Protect your home against the cold snap

With reports of freezing cold weather set to hit the UK, we have some handy tips to help you avoid damage to your home and improve your energy efficiency.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Insulate external pipes and accessible indoor pipes (in unheated areas like the garage) with weather-resistant insulation. The most effective way to protect pipes is with the traditional pipe wrap insulation. Although this is available in a range of different materials, we recommend polyethylene which has excellent insulating qualities. If using insulation foam, use this on top of the pipes rather than underneath them. We also suggest filling the gaps behind your radiators with PU foam or mineral wool. This will prevent you from losing a lot of heat though non-insulated outside walls.

It is important to identify where the stopcock for your water supply is located – you may have to turn off your water supply in the event of your pipes freezing or bursting. If your pipes do freeze, turn the water off as soon as possible and be sure to thaw them out slowly. Hot water bottles would do the job effectively, however, if these are in short supply you could use towels soaked in hot water or a hairdryer on a low setting.

We also suggest all taps are regularly tested for blockages and free flow of water. If you are going away on a winter’s holiday, leave the thermostat set on a low temperature to help prevent pipes from freezing whilst you are away.

Clear gutters and secure your roof tiles

Ensure your gutters and drains are clear of leaves or dirt. This will help prevent blockages and the unwanted build-up of frozen trapped water.

If it’s safe to do so, inspect your roof for missing or cracked tiles. A roof leak can be a very expensive inconvenience but can also be easily avoided. If you are unable to safely access your roof, you could call in a professional to check it for you.

Secure your garden

Tidy away and cover your garden furniture. If you have not done so already, clean off any dirt and grime. Remember to brush away any snow, leaves or debris from the stored furniture to help prevent dampness or damage.

Cut back low-hanging tree branches which could be brought down by strong winds or heavy snow.

Improve your energy efficiency

We recommend setting your heating to 18–21°C and trying to find a comfortable temperature in this range. Rather than setting high temperatures for quick blasts of heat, it’s better to put the thermostat on earlier to maintain a steady temperature. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if you turn down the heat on your thermostat by just one degree you can save 10% annually!

Try to block draughts from windows, external and external doors, as well as loft hatches. And don’t forget to block your letter box and keyhole; this is an easy way to save a lot of heat cheaply. Similarly, drawing the curtains (the thicker the better) at dusk and keep the doors closed of unheated rooms. In turn you should soon will reduce cold air flow and improve efficiency.

It is vital to keep heating appliances or wood burners serviced, or your chimneys swept, in order to make sure that your fire burns efficiently and economically. Remember to only burn dry, well-seasoned wood that has been properly split.

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