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Cold weather alert: how to protect your home

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Public Health England has issued a cold weather alert which is likely to remain in place for several days. Here are the best ways to shelter your home.

All parts of the country are urged to take care as snow, ice and low temperatures are expected this week.

With energy costs already high, many may be worried about how they’ll be able to pay as the temperature plummets.

According to Comparethemarket, the average energy bill rose by over £240 to £1,625 in 2017, an increase of 14% on the previous year.

However, those on default standard variable tariffs will be paying more. The comparison site found that nearly a fifth of over 65s are on these expensive tariffs, equating to two million elderly people across the country.

If you’re on a provider’s default tariff, it’s important to remember that by comparing and switching to a new supplier, your energy won’t be cut off. You will continue to receive gas and electricity to your home. The energy switch process typically takes around four weeks, but can be sooner or later.

As well as reviewing your energy, you should also check your home to ensure it’s ready for the colder weather.

You should service your boiler by a professional (Gas Safe registered plumber) to avoid the chances of a sudden boiler breakdown, according to Policy Expert, as this could turn out to be an expensive ordeal.

Otherwise, here are Policy Expert’s top tips on protecting your home from winter weather:

  • Roof tiles: check for any cracked, missing or loose tiles and replace them. If a roof is in disrepair the weight of snow or high winds can be hazardous.
  • Keep the central heating on: set the central heating to a minimum of 14 degrees celsius throughout the winter. It helps prevent pipes freezing as well as frost damage.
  • Repair damaged chimneys: look for cracks around chimney pots and at the roof join, also for loose render and render that’s come away from the stack. High winds and heavy rain can damage chimneys even further, so make sure they’re properly stable before extreme weather happens.
  • Windows: take a look at your window frames and fill any cracks and put on a coat of paint if needed. Extreme temperatures and wet weather can cause untreated wood to expand and rot, treating the window sills helps prevent water and frost damage.
  • Insulation: lag any pipes and water tanks in exposed areas such as lofts, garages and utility rooms to prevent pipes freezing and bursting.
  • Guttering and drains: clear your guttering and drains of any debris such as leaves, mud and stones; they can block easily and freeze up.
  • Walls: check the pointing in brickwork both on the main house, all outbuildings and garden walls, look for any loose stone or areas that are in need of repair.
  • Fuse box and electrics: a home’s electrics are a major source of insurance claims. If you haven’t done so in a while, get a registered electrician to check your home’s fuse box and wiring.

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