WITH Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to make our homes as warm, secure and comfortable as possible.
Property expert, Kirsten O’Neill from Newton Property (www.newtonproperty.co.uk), one of Scotland’s leading providers of factoring and letting services, shares some inexpensive tips to winter-proof your home.
1. It’s curtains. Curtains are one of the most effective ways to protect your house from losing heat through the windows. Curtains with a thermal lining are a relatively cheap option or, if you’re handy with a sewing machine, line them yourself with a cheap fleece. You can also place a curtain in front of outside doors to add another layer of protection.
Open up curtains and blinds during the day to let sun in and close them as soon as dusk falls, to keep in heat.
2. Banish draughts. Dig out your gran’s sausage dog draught excluders and put it at the bottom of doors to stop heat escaping through the gap between door and floor. Or make your own by cutting an old pair of tights and stuffing them with socks! Beware mini-draughts from letter boxes, keyholes, cat flaps. You can pick up cheap solutions at your local DIY store.
3. Love a rug. Wooden floors can look great but can lose you lots of expensive heat. It is estimated that floors account for as much as ten per cent of heat loss if they’re not insulated, according to the National Energy Foundation (NEF). Rugs and blankets can help and have the added bonus of keeping your feet warm.
4. Floorboards and skirting boards can contract, expand or move slightly with everyday use. If there are cracks or gaps in the flooring, it’s a good idea to squirt some filler into them. Use a silicone-based one that can tolerate movement.
5. Keep the heat. It’s now fairly common to have decorative fireplaces. If you’re not using yours then you should consider a chimney balloon. What’s that? It’s made from a special laminate, and costs about £20. It works by being placed inside the chimney hole, just out of sight, then inflated until it completely shuts out any incoming cold air or escaping heat. Just be sure not to start a fire without removing it!!
6. Insurance review. Make sure your building and content insurance is up to scratch. If you are in a flat, it’s likely that the factor will provide buildings cover. Make sure that’s the case and check that you are happy with the level of cover.
7. Taking a break. If you are heading away for a few days, keep your heating on low. Leave a key with a friend or family member and, if you live in a flat, let your neighbours know how to contact you should there be a problem, such as burst pipes. You might also need to let your buildings insurance company know if the property is going to be vacant over a certain length of time. If there is a burst and they can’t get hold of you, remember the Police and Fire Services are within their rights to break down your door!
8. Gas safety checks aren’t just for landlords. It is recommended that you get all your gas appliances, including your boiler, fire and cooker are serviced regularly and safety checked once a year. Good maintenance = efficiency = cheaper bills! Remember, carbon monoxide poisoning is a killer.
9. Windows. . Upgrading or replace any drafty old windows with double or triple glazed. It may seem like a big outlay, but you’ll be amazed what a difference that can make… and the money it could save you in the long-term. Just make sure you have permission in a listed building!
10. Give your boiler some TLC. Getting your boiler serviced before the cold weather really kicks in can save you money in the long-run. A service can improve a boiler’s efficiency and might pick up minor problems which could turn into major disasters. The last thing you want on Christmas Eve is a faulty boiler!
11. Shut up unused rooms. Keeping doors closed will prevent cold air moving into the rest of the house and contain the heat you’ve generated in a smaller area. But remember to keep just enough ambient heat running through unused rooms – to prevent frozen pipes!
12. Gutter check. This is the ideal time to have your gutters checked – think of all those fallen leaves bunging up your gutters. And while that’s been done, ask your contractor to have a look at your roof for loose or missing tiles. Rapidly melting snow needs to make a quick exit… hopefully, not though your ceiling!
13. Get radiator wise! Keep your radiators clear. Avoid placing large pieces of furniture in front of them and consider putting a shelf above the radiator as this can also help channel the warmth, especially if you have high ceilings. This is also useful if your radiator is below a window with curtains, where warm air would be trapped between the window and the curtain.
A cheap way to prevent heat loss from radiators, particularly on those attached to external walls, is to use heat reflective aluminium foil – tin foil – behind the radiator to stop heat disappearing through the wall by reflecting it back into the room. Most DIY stores sell them in rolls.
If your gas central heating isn’t warming your home properly, it could be because there are air bubbles trapped in the system. Bleed your radiator for a quick fix and to maximise their efficiency and if your radiator is cold at the bottom, just give it a little tap when you are bleeding the air to release it.
14. Lag and insulate above your ceilings. If you live on the top floor, or have access to an attic, lag the floor of the attic with rock wool insulation (remember your goggles and mask). Try it for a while, if it’s still cold, double the layer… it really works!
15. Emergency list. At Newton, we give all our clients a list of emergency out-of-hours contact details. Think about preparing your own list of local, reliable, recommended contractors and who you might call in an emergency. Better still – appoint a factor. We’d be happy to help.
For further information please contact Jill Creighton at Headline PR firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07775 862552
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