As the UK braces itself for some typically cold, wet and windy 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 repairs and maintenance 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 or kitchen, and it doesn’t make a great impression on guests either. Simply picking up some affordable self-adhesive draught stripping from the local hardware shop will do the trick in the short term, and make a noticeable difference. Additionally, if you take steps to fully draught-proof your property, including insulating cavities, underneath floorboards and in loft spaces, 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 also 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 we leave for work, then putting it back on full whack when we get home from work. However, this can actually lead to condensation problems, and can prove to be more expensive than you think. Instead, keep your thermostat at around 19/20 degrees C consistently. This should also help to avoid frozen pipes, particularly if you will have an empty property for a few days, or if you’re planning on going away over the festive period.
3. Sort out your roof:
Roofs are often neglected until a serious, and often costly problem occurs, which more often than not, could have been avoided if regular maintenance had been carried out throughout the year. Make sure your gutters are cleared of any moss or autumn leaves to avoid blockages. If your gutters are blocked, rain and melted snow can’t properly drain, and this could result in them overflowing, which can lead to damp and damaged brickwork, soggy foundations and cracked fascias. It only costs a few pounds for a professional handyman to safely do this type of scheduled, preventative maintenance job for you.
4. Protect your pipes:
As we’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 to the cold temperatures. Hot water cylinder jackets cost around £15-£20, while foam tubes for pipes cost even less and both are easy to fit yourself.
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:
A modern, efficient boiler will not only save you money on your energy bills, but it will also help ensure tenants remain safe and warm over the winter period and beyond, meaning less hassle for our landlord clients. 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, and tested for gas safety on an annual basis.
If you decide to purchase a new efficient condenser boiler, this can save hundreds off your annual bills and make your property even more attractive to prospective tenants, as we find that many tenants nowadays do make decisions on which property to take, based on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating. For your information, in the UK, rental properties must meet the E Grade or above to be be let out!
Our property team are on hand to help and advise on these types of matters further, and we can make recommendations to trusted, local contractors for any of the above type of work you may need.
We hope you’ve found this information useful. We’ll be sharing many more tips to help you winter-proof your property in the coming weeks and months, but in the meantime, wrap up, it’s getting cold out there!