How homeowners can keep costs down this winter
Cold winters always result in a surge in home insurance claims, which can cost property owners dearly. Not only do claims mean policy holders must pay an excess, but their premiums typically rise as a result.
A buildings and contents insurance policy is not necessarily enough to protect your home from any damages. Insurance firm Policy Expert warns that insurers can reject claims for weather damage if they feel a property isn’t suitably protected from the elements, as they can argue the damage would not have occurred if your property was properly maintained.
Having the right amount of cover is essential, the firm says. Some home insurance policies might not cover outbuildings, for example. Others won’t cover boilers and heating systems if they haven’t been checked by a registered plumber.
Draughty homes aren’t just cold, they waste energy and drive bills up. MoneySuperMarket.com estimates homeowners can save £55 a year on average if they fully draught-proof their properties.
The most common sources of draught are windows, doors (including keyholes and letterboxes), chimneys and fireplaces, loft hatches and skirting boards.
Most DIY stores stock a good range of draught proofing equipment. While it may require some upfront investment, you’ll quickly recoup the outgoings in savings. Less draught means you can also turn your thermostat down, translating into further bill savings.
Water pipes are likely to burst during cold weather spells and periods of absence.
LV= says homeowners spending extended periods of the season away should programme their central heating to come on for a few hours each day to thaw pipes.
Homeowners should insulate their pipes and ask a friend or neighbour to drop by once a week to check on their home if they’re away.
MoneySuperMarket.com says that insulating loft and cavity walls could save property owners up to £300 every year.
Modern properties built after 1990 are probably insulated already. If a home isn’t insulated, heat will escape through the roof, walls and floors – and will do so more quickly when the weather is colder.
While professional installation will likely cost around £250, it’ll more than pay for itself within its first year. It also may be possible to benefit from a free insulation deal currently offered by energy companies, which will pay for installation (whether in-part or outright).
For all its clear weather, the summer can cause blockages in pipes both inside and outside your home. Rightmove notes that leaves falling from trees will clog gutters and drainpipes during autumn, meaning water will start to build up.
Not only will this excess water eventually leak into the roof and down the walls of the house, it could damage your home if it freezes. Make sure you remove any loose foliage before temperatures drop.
Trapped air can also build up inside radiators during the summer, as they tend to be used infrequently if ever. This can stop heat from circulating properly, and as a result you’ll need to bleed the radiator. You can tell if it needs to be bled very simply: switch the radiator on, and see whether it’s colder at the top than the bottom.