As the UK braces itself for some winter weather, now is the perfect time to make sure your property is ready to face the colder temperatures. Here are some things that both landlords and tenants can do now, to help prevent winter damage, improve energy efficiency and try and keep costs down as much as possible.
One of the biggest drains on heating systems is draughts from doors and windows. No-one likes to step out of a toasty living room into a freezing cold hallway, and it doesn’t make a great impression on guests either. Simply picking up some cheap self-adhesive draught stripping will do the trick in the short term. However, if you take steps to fully draught-proof your property, including floorboards and lofts, the Energy Saving Trust says you could save a typical £55 a year. If you turn down your thermostat as a result of a warmer home, you could save an extra £65 a year.
2. Keep your heating on, but low:
Many of us have fallen into the habit of switching the heating on high before work, then putting it back on full whack when we get in. However, this can actually lead to condensation problems, as well as prove to be more expensive than you think. Instead, keep your thermostat at around 20 degrees C consistently. This should also avoid frozen pipes, particularly if you have an empty property or are going away over the festive period.
3. Sort out your roof:
Roofs are often neglected until a serious (and costly) problem occurs – which, more often than not, could have been avoided if regular maintenance was carried out throughout the year. Make sure your gutters are cleared of autumn leaves to avoid blockages. If your gutters are blocked, rain and melted snow can’t properly drain, and this could result in damp and damaged brickwork, soggy foundations and cracked fascias. It only costs a few pounds for a professional handyman to safely do the job for you.
4. Protect your pipes:
As I’ve already mentioned, keeping your heating on at a consistently low temperature should avoid frozen pipes. However, it is worth taking extra measures, especially as newspaper reports are warning about how cold and snowy the UK’s winter is going to be.
Insulating your loft, cold water storage tank and pipes in your attic and crawl spaces should be a priority, as these are exposed. Hot water cylinder jackets cost around £15-£20, while foam tubes for pipes cost even less and both are easy to fit.
According to the ‘Energy Saving Trust’, doing both these tasks will save a typical three-bedroom semi-detached house around £60 a year.
5. Get your boiler serviced:
An efficient boiler will not only save on energy bills, but will also ensure tenants remain safe over the winter period and beyond. This final task is perhaps the most important and is a legal obligation for landlords. Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords have to ensure gas appliances, fittings and flues are safe for tenants. These must be regularly maintained by a ‘Gas Safe’ heating engineer.
If you decide to purchase a new efficient condenser boiler, this can save hundreds off your annual bills and make your property more attractive to tenants.
I hope you’ve found this information useful. I’ll be sharing many more tips to help you winter-proof your property in the coming weeks and months, wrap up, it’s getting cold out there!