Looking after your home over the winter months

With the nights drawing darker and colder at this time of year, its very important to look after your home, especially if unoccupied.

These tips should help to prevent the bitter cold causing you problems with your property.

Insulate pipes

The biggest step you can take to ensure your property doesn’t become damaged as the temperature drops is to get insulation installed. You might even find you are eligible for free insulation or a grant towards the cost. Click here to find out if you’re eligible https://www.gov.uk/energy-grants-calculator

It is wise to get your loft insulated to stop heat leaking unnecessarily through your roof; you should also have your pipes lagged. Freezing pipes is one of the biggest problems during the winter, as they can cause the pipes to burst, resulting in leaks and even floods in the house. By insulating the pipes, you’ll keep them a lot warmer, thereby preventing the pipes from freezing.

Put the heating on

You might think it sounds silly to put the heating on if there’s no one living in the property, but you could actually save a lot of money by doing so. Despite having to still pay the bills, by putting the heating on, you will prevent your home from becoming too cold and subsequently freezing. If this happened, you could find yourself paying thousands of pounds to fix any serious damage caused by burst pipes.

It is advisable to have the heating on a constant temperature, even if that temperature is quite low. By putting it on a setting of at least 14C, you’ll keep the property warm, so it remains in a good enough condition when the cold weather thaws. If, on the other hand, you put the heating on a higher temperature for one or two hours a day, you could cause the pipes to freeze between these times. Therefore, a constant temperature will make sure your house doesn’t become too cold without any residents living there.

Visit regularly

You might not think you have any reason to visit your property, particularly if you live quite far away from it. However, it is a good idea to make a trip there every so often, just so you can check up on the property and make sure everything is in a good condition.

When you visit, there are some things you’ll definitely want to check; for instance, put the taps on to ensure they are still working. If no water is coming out of the taps, this could be a sign that the pipes are frozen. You should also check the stop tap and see if it still works; this way, should there be a leak in the future, you know you can easily turn off the water supply to prevent as much damage as possible.

It is also wise to clear the gutters as leaves and debris are likely to have fallen and blocked them during your absence. If you don’t do this, water could collect in the gutter, which could later freeze and cause a build-up of ice in the pipes.

Despite the cold weather, you should also open the windows to aerate the house. Just by opening them every so often, you will ensure the windows don’t freeze shut and you will allow air to circulate around the property. Don’t keep them open for too long though, as you don’t want the temperature inside the home to plummet.

Block draughts

You should try to visit during windy weather if you can; this way you can easily identify if there are any draughts in the property. Once you have located these, you can block them to prevent losing any heat to the outside.

By trapping as much heat as possible in the house, you have a better chance to preventing serious problems from occurring. Make sure you check the doors and windows to see if there are any gaps, and, if there are, seal them all.

Make it look lived in

If you want to avoid your property becoming prey to any potential burglars while it is empty, it is wise to make sure it appears ocupied, even though no one is living there. Prospective thieves will be put off breaking in should they think there are residents in the property, so it is a good idea to do things such as put your lights on a timer.

All you need to do is get a timer for a couple of lamps – preferably one in a main room and one in a hallway – and set them to go off at prime times of the day, such as 19:00 to 22:00. Similarly, you could set your radio or TV to go on so they can be heard or seen from the outside; this way it’ll look as though someone is inside.

You should also make sure any deliveries you have ordered to the property are cancelled, especially if they are regular ones. If it is obvious that no one is picking up the post, burglars will see that no one is living there.

If possible, it is advisable to open and close curtains or blinds when you visit – this will look as though someone is regularly around. Should they, on the other hand, remain closed all the time, thieves will certainly recognise the house is empty.

All these tips should ensure your home stays safe and secure over the winter months.