Game of Thrones' Ned Stark was right to look so miserable when he announced that winter was coming.
You're absolutely right, Ned. 'Tis the season of frozen pipes, clogged gutters and leaky roofs - but with a bit of forward thinking, you can protect your home this winter.
These are the practical checks that you should adhere to:
- Check that your pipes are protected. They should be well-insulated against the cold, and if you're going away for any length of time over the winter, make sure that your heating system is timed to kick in occasionally to avoid them freezing.
- Give your roof a thorough check. Due to wet weather, leaks are more common in the winter, so make sure that you catch any potential damage before strong winds and bad weather make anything worse. Replace any broken or missing tiles and repair any damage as soon as possible. If you have a flat roof, check to see if it needs re-covering.
- Make sure your boiler has been serviced. It will only take a few hours out of your day and you will thank yourself when you can enjoy lovely hot showers when it's freezing outside.
- Draught-proof your home. Not only will you feel warmer, but you'll also save on your energy bills. The worst places for draughts are around windows and doors, fireplaces, and any gaps where wires have been installed. Don't forget that draught excluders and letterbox covers can also help you keep the heat in.
- Make sure your gutters aren't blocked. Debris such as dead leaves, moss and pieces of foliage can stop your gutters from working properly, so when the wet weather comes, your home could be flooded, as excess water can't drain away properly.
- Make sure your home is well-lit. Not only will you feel a bit better when you have to leave early or arrive home late (no fumbling in the dark for you!), but you'll also have additional security when you go away. If you're taking a winter break, set your lights on a timer - it'll make thieves think twice.
Of course, there are some other checks that you can make from the comfort of your own home.
- Make sure that your home insurance documents are up to date and all your details are correct. It's vital that you tell the truth on your policy documentation (if you don't and have to make a claim, it could be deemed invalid) and keep your insurance provider aware of any changes that you may make.
- Are you paying too much for your electricity and gas? It doesn't hurt to go onto a price comparison site and see if you can get a tariff that'll keep your energy bills down.
- Don't forget that if you're planning on working your way through a lot of TV this winter that you can also find some great deals at the moment - just do your homework and find out what works for you.