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How Homeowners can Prepare for Winter

Cold Weather Raises Utility Bills; Fight Back with These Tips

© 2012 by Dan Whiteside; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.

Snowboarding in the mountains; photo by Arriba

With winter rapidly approaching, there are several jobs that need to be done around the home. A little organization will go a long way and should help you get through the cold months in style—so let’s find out more.

Although most people know that spring is the time for conducting their A/C maintenance, many neglect to give their heating system a check up in the fall, along with the following measures.

Here’s how to prepare for the nippy spell:

  • Take out Homeowners Insurance.

    Wind, rain, sleet, and snow can cause damage to your abode, so it’s wise to take out homeowners insurance with a well-known company like HomeServe.

    This will protect your bank balance in an emergency and will ensure you get the financial help you really need in the event of one of the natural catastrophes mentioned above, as well as others, depending on where you live.

    Your home should be insured for the amount of money it would cost to rebuild your abode if it was totally destroyed, including an allowance for architects, surveyor fees, legal fees, and demolition costs—so bear this in mind.

    Although standard insurance coverage will vary from country to country, be sure to do your homework to determine whether you need any riders on your policy. For example, in the US, flood insurance is a separate instrument to purchase.

  • Arrange a Boiler Service.

    If your central heating system is old and inefficient, it might be worth upgrading to an A-rated, energy-efficient condensing boiler. This could save you hundreds of pounds or dollars a year.

    It will also significantly cut your carbon dioxide emissions, contributing to a green lifestyle, so it’s worth thinking about.

    If you can’t afford to buy a new system right now, don’t forget to arrange boiler cover before the frost sets in. A Gas Safe Register approved engineer will ensure everything’s working as efficiently as possible and will make repairs if necessary.

  • Make Sure Your Exterior Walls are Insulated.

    According to the Energy Saving Trust, around a third of all the heat lost in an non-insulated home goes through the walls.

    As heat always flows from a warm area to a cold area, this problem can be worse in winter, so it’s worth investing in wall insulation—particularly if your home has cavity (conventional wood framing) walls.

    Cavity wall insulation can be blown into the gap from the outside or inside of your house and could save you around £150 UK (approximately $243 USD, depending on current exchange rate) a year.

    Every part of your exterior walls should be filled, so make sure the installer can easily access them. In most cases, you can choose between loose fill or spray foam insulation.

  • Lag, or Insulate, Your Water Pipes.

    The warmth from the water inside your pipes will also try to escape into a cooler environment. That’s why it’s essential to lag the water pipes throughout your residence.

    Insulating materials cost around $24 to do the average home (but may be more or less depending on demand and location, and can be bought from most home improvement stores, so assess how much you need and make a purchase.

    Insulating your pipes is quite a simple process (buy the lengths of foam tube with an installation slit on one side), and should stop your waterworks from bursting in sub-zero temperatures.

Winter will soon be here, so take the time to prepare your house. For further things you can do to both winterize and summerize your home, please refer to the energy conservation links below.

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