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Home winter care

5 minute read

Winter can be a magical time. However, snow storms, freezing temperatures and long, dark nights can have a big impact on your home.  

 
  • Prepare for cold weather with small maintenance jobs to avoid expensive repairs
  • Cut your heating, lighting and energy bills for an efficient winter home
  • Prevent frozen pipes bursting and damaging your home
 

Snow, ice and frozen pipes can all cause damage that generally leads to a spike in insurance claims. Darker, colder days also mean your heating and electricity bills can increase rapidly. Start preparing for winter to avoid these risks and high energy bills with our cold weather tips.

Winter home maintenance checklist

The Met Office provides a Cold Weather Alert Service every year, between November 1st to March 31st. This warns you of predicted adverse weather conditions in the coming days and weeks.

There are actions you can take in advance to guard against them. Our checklist covers simple tasks you can do inside and outside to help when you’re getting ready for winter.

Outside

In your garden, driveway and around your home’s exterior, there are a few actions you can take to prevent snow, ice and rain damage:

  • Cut down overgrown branches: Dead branches and foliage from hedges can fall into and clog gutters. Snow can also build up on them, causing branches to snap, fall and damage anything below. Trim them back to help avoid this.
  • Clear gutters and drains: Blockages in gutters and drains can lead to water backing up. It can start to run down the walls of your house and leak through the roof. If it freezes, the added weight can put a strain on plastic guttering and drainpipes, causing them to break. Clear them regularly during winter.
  • Check and fix the roof: Make sure any aerials and satellites are secured, especially when strong winds are forecast. Assess and replace cracked or missing roof tiles. Again, water can leak through and freeze in cracks, possibly causing more damage. 

 

Inside

When you’ve ticked everything off the winter home maintenance checklist outside, there are a few key areas to focus on inside:

  • Weatherproof against any draughts: Check for any gaps around windows and doors that are letting in air and causing draughts. Seal them up with weather-stripping or caulk. Consider double-glazing if it’s not already in place, or replacing an old door with a new one, depending on how bad the problem is.
  • Insulate your walls and loft: Cavity wall insulation can keep your home warmer and cheaper to heat in winter. Around one third of all heat escapes through walls , so check if your home’s walls are insulated. You’ll need the help of a professional, but for loft insulation you can easily install this yourself.
  • Check the fireplace: If you have a working fireplace, arrange an inspection to make sure it’s not blocked and is fully functioning. Otherwise, this can cause draughts, while debris can create a fire hazard.
 
Snow, ice and frozen pipes can all cause damage that generally leads to a spike in insurance claims. Darker, colder days also mean your heating and electricity bills can increase rapidly.

Energy saving cold weather tips

Electricity demand and usage is much higher on a typical winter’s day, compared to one in summer. This generally leads to greater energy costs across the season. These energy-efficient cold weather tips can help you run a warm and comfortable winter home in a cost-effective way across three main areas.

Heating

  • Keep your heating on a constant low heat when you’re out, to prevent pipes freezing and your boiler using more energy.
  • Use a timer so the heating is only turned up when you’re at home.
  • When preparing for winter, turn the thermostat down by 1°C to save on heating bills and give you time to get used to a lower temperature.

Lighting

  • Switch from traditional incandescent light bulbs to long-lasting, energy-efficient LEDs
  • Consider automatic lights in certain rooms that turn off when not in use or dimmer switches to adjust as natural light levels change.
  • Simply turn off lights when not in use, or use lamps rather than overhead lights, to use less energy.

Appliances

  • Check fridge and freezer settings, as keeping them at really cold temperatures may be unnecessary and uses a lot of energy
  • Wash clothes at 30°C instead of 40°C – there will be no difference in wash quality, and you’ll save money on electricity.
  • Fully turn off or unplug TVs, DVD players and computers when not in use, as they use power while on standby.  
 

Frozen pipe prevention

During winter, the pipes in your home may be at risk of freezing and bursting. This can cause costly damage to repair and lead to a cold house. One of the most important home maintenance tips for winter is to protect against this – mainly through good home insulation, warm air circulation and maintaining a low heat setting. 

To prevent frozen pipes:

Insulate your loft: Use good quality lagging, especially around your pipes and water tanks so they don’t freeze.

  • Open the loft hatch occasionally: This will allow warm air to circulate around pipes in the loft.
  • Fit new washers to dripping taps: Stop the chance of water freezing and blocking the pipe. 
  • Maintain a low temperature: Use frost protection thermostats on heaters where possible.

If a pipe has frozen, but not burst, avoid damage by:

  • Removing carpet, furniture and electricals near the frozen pipe, to minimise damage costs if it does burst. 
  • Opening the tap nearest to the part of the pipe that’s frozen. This allows water to flow easier once it has melted. 
  • Thawing the ice in the frozen pipe with a water bottle, hot cloth or hairdryer – it’s important to keep this safely away from any water. Start at the end closest to the tap. 

If something does go wrong, it’s worth checking if you have home emergency cover included in your home insurance policy to help sort things out.

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