Get Ready for Winter
The clocks have turned back, the days are getting shorter and the nights colder, which can only mean one thing: winter is coming! Don’t get caught out. Prepare for winter with these easy-to-implement home maintenance tips.
Maintain a Constant Temperature
Set your thermostat to a lower, comfortable temperature, ideally between 18°c and 22°c. Check you can adjust the temperature – with a manual thermostat, you should be able to hear a ‘click’ when the heating gets activated; note however, that there is no click on a digital thermostat. You should get a broken thermostat fixed or replaced sooner rather than later as a faulty thermostat means you’ll have an inefficient boiler, or worse, one that doesn’t function at all.
If you have gas radiators, check your thermostatic valves are turning correctly; sometimes, they can just snap off. Also, make sure you know where to find your water stopcock, as you may need to turn the water off for a while if you discover your pipes are frozen. If you do have frozen pipes, warm them up gradually to thaw them out and prevent them bursting.
If you are away from home for prolonged periods during the winter season, set the thermostat to 14°c or leave the heating on an intermittent setting. It is more efficient to heat up a mildly warm home rather than heat up a stone-cold one. Finally, ensure your boiler is serviced and your roof and vulnerable pipes are insulated. If you are reading this before Christmas, you may find 7 Things To Do Before You Leave Home helpful.
Prepare a Power-Cut Kit
You may experience a power outage during winter. Although you could be forgiven for thinking such outages only happen in the suburbs, the truth is it can happen anywhere and it’s best to be prepared by having a power-cut kit to hand. This kit should include a torch, batteries, candles, matches, a battery-operated radio, blankets, a power pack for charging your phone and some emergency food such as packets and tins (remember to include a tin opener). An extra tip: keep a torch by your bed so you’ll be able to find the kit in the dark.
If you do experience a power cut, you should first check to see whether your neighbours’ power is also out. If not, you need to ask whether your own consumer unit has tripped. Once you’ve reset the switches, check – do the lights come back on all over the property or have you suffered a partial power cut, i.e., do the lights come on in the other rooms? If not, it could be that one of your electrical appliances is faulty. Unplug all of them if you can. If you have no idea, call UK Power Networks at any time of the day or night on 105 and they can advise you. If it’s not an emergency, book a qualified electrician to attend as soon as possible. Lastly, do not open your fridge/freezer unless it’s absolutely necessary, as this will keep the cold in and stop food defrosting.
Ventilate Your Property
As counterintuitive as it may sound, ventilating the property by opening your windows for just 10 minutes a day will help combat condensation and the build-up of mould. Watch out for kitchen or bathroom steam seeping through the home; if possible, close the door and ventilate just that room. Drying your washing inside on a clothes horse? Open your windows; London air is very dry, even in the winter months, and will speed up the drying. More information on how to keep your home condensation-free can be found in How to Banish Condensation.
Check Your Outdoor Lights
In summer, when outside lights are either not in use or go unnoticed, it’s easy not to realise they’ve stopped working. This is not something you only want to discover once winter has set in. Often, domestic accidents occur in and immediately around the home; this could mean your own doorstep if you have inadequate lighting at the front. Common trip hazards are frequently made worse by frost and ice, so check outdoor light sensors are working and change lightbulbs where necessary.