When winter comes around there are lots of things you start to worry about however making sure that your home is ready for the harsh winter weather should be the top of your list of things you need to do. Reading through this guide will give you 5 great home improvements that you can make to your home to get ready for winter!
1. Invest In A New Boiler
Investing in a new boiler is a huge commitment and a huge cost for just a home improvement for winter but it can really pay off in the long run. There are two ways you can mainly tell if you need a new boiler, the first is if your boiler is older than ten years and the second is if you have been having on and off trouble with your boiler for a while. Replacing an old boiler or a boiler with these problems will save you money in the long run, both on your heating bills and on the cost of an engineer call out to fix your malfunctioning boiler.
If you are living with a boiler that is ten years or older then the chances are, you are losing out on a lot of the energy that you are generating with your boiler. This is due to older boilers being rated a G on the boiler efficiency rating, with G being the lowest at 70% efficiency or below and A being the highest with 90% or more. So, if you have a boiler 10 years or older you could be losing up to 30% of all energy that is being generated by it due to how inefficient it is. When you compare this to modern boilers that are often rated at around 92% efficiency, meaning you are getting to use 22% more energy generated by a modern boiler!
When it comes to choosing a new boiler for your home there are a few things you want to double-check before you purchase it. Such as what type of boiler is your old boiler, they will usually be either a combi boiler, system boiler or a conventional boiler. You will also want to research boiler brands and try and find one that is both within your budget and reliable so reading reviews is a great way to find out what is reliable. Finally, you will want to find a gas safe heating engineer that can install your new boiler.
2. Insulate Your Pipes
Insulating your pipes is an essential part of getting ready for winter. Insulating your pipes is vital in ensuring that you do not end up with a lack of water from your pipes freezing and bursting due to the water expanding. To begin with, you will want to check around your house to find water pipes that are exposed in areas in your home that are not heated, such as your crawl space, garage, and your attic. To begin with, you will want to go to your local DIY store and purchase some pipe insulation and duct tape. It is also advised to have a saw and a tape measure so that you can measure and cut the pipe insulation to the length that you need. What you will want to do first is measure the exposed pipes and make a note of their length before cutting the pipe insulation to the correct size for each exposed pipe. You will then want to put the insulation over the exposed pipes, making sure they fit snuggly using duct tape every so often along the draft excluder.
3. Draught Proof Your Home
Draught proofing your home is vitally important, especially before the winter months when there start to be cold winds that can get through these draughts in your home. Draught proofing is a generally inexpensive option when it comes to getting ready for winter with it costing around £80 for both the inside and outside of your home. Just like with insulating your pipes you will first want to call at your local DIY shop to get some self-adhesive strips and a brush strip for the bottom of your front door.
Inside Your Home
When you get started draught-proofing inside your home it is best to get started by buying a draught excluder for the bottom of your inside doors, these can be bought online for as little as £1.50! By placing these at the bottom of your doors you are not allowing the hot air generated by your heating system to escape into the rest of your home. Then you will need to wipe down the inside of your window frames to remove any excess dirt, take the self-adhesive strips, measure your windows, cut the strips to size and place on the inside of your open windows onto the frame so that when the window closes it fits snug. This then means that there will not be a gap between your window and the window frame that will allow cold air in.
Outside Your Home
The main thing you need to do on the outside of your home is to attach the brush strip you bought to the bottom of your front door. To begin with close your front door and measure the distance at the bottom. After this, if you need to, cut down the brush strip to ensure it fits correctly to your front door and you can both open and close the front door with no obstruction from the brush. If your home does not already have one, there is also a brush that you can add to your doors letterbox.
4. Bleed Your Radiators
Bleeding your radiators is a task that is not as hard as it sounds and only requires a few household items and a few minutes for each radiator. There are a few signs that your radiators need bleeding which are taking a while to heat up, the top feeling colder to touch than the bottom and noises such as gurgling coming from the radiator. However, you should be bleeding your radiators once a year to make sure that they will continue working correctly. When it comes to bleeding your radiators, you will need these items:
- A radiator keys
- A tea towel or oven glove
- A container or bucket
Then using these items and following these steps you can bleed the radiators around your home:
- Switch off your heating – this means the water will not be hot when it comes out and the radiator will not be too hot to touch.
- Put your container below the radiator to catch any water that escapes.
- Place the radiator key into the valve at the top of your radiator and turn anticlockwise slowly until you can hear the hissing sound of the trapped air escaping.
- Once all the air escapes turn the valve clockwise to seal the valve before too much water escapes.
- You can then turn your heating on.
- Make sure you check the pressure on your boiler to make sure it is still the right pressure.
- Check your radiators and if they are heating up evenly you have successfully bled your radiators.
5. Check Your Insulation
Checking insulation is often overlooked when preparing for winter however this can be at a cost of both comfort and an increase in heating bills! There are two types of insulation that you should be checking, your loft and cavity wall insulation.
The best way to check your loft insulation, if you have access, is to get up into your loft and measure how thick the insulation is. It varies for each type of insulation how thick it is recommended to be:
- Glass wool: 270mm (27cm)
- Rock wool: 250mm (25cm)
- Cellulose: 220mm (22cm)
If you measure your insulation and find the measurements do not equal the recommended amount of insulation, then it is best to call an insulation installer to come and fix this problem.
Cavity Wall Insulation
There are two ways to check if you have cavity wall insulation. The first of which is to check with your local building authorities if your home was insulated or ask your landlord if you are in rented accommodation. Another way is to ask an insulation installer to drill a small hole in your wall to inspect if the wall is empty or insulated, while this may cost a callout charge and service fee it is worth it to get peace of mind for your home’s insulation.
Following these steps will give you a great start to getting your home ready for that cold winter weather and chilly months.