As the temperature drops and winter sets in, we’re all starting to feel the chill – and increased energy bills at this time of year are a common topic for discussion.
It’s also something on the minds of many people seeking to buy or rent a home – “How much does it cost to heat?” is a frequently asked question.
If this could be an issue with your property, we’ve drawn up a checklist of simple ideas that could substantially reduce fuel bills and increase the energy-efficiency of your property.
If all these ideas are implemented, heating bills could be reduced by up to a fifth – a substantial saving in anyone’s eyes.
Check the roof for loose or broken tiles and, if there are any, get them replaced as soon as possible. Not only is this allowing heat to escape, but you could also be at risk of incurring further damage from heavy rains or snow. It’s a good idea to clean out gutters, too, as leaves or other debris can block the free flow of rainwater into drains; if this freezes, it could become heavy enough to tear the pipes away from the walls.
Insulate as much as possible. Walls, attics and lofts, water pipes and heater – it will all make a difference to the warmth of the property and the costs of heating it. Don’t forget the access door to the loft or attic either – even if the space itself is insulated, you need to make sure air isn’t escaping through the hatch so make sure it’s closed tight.
Weather-strip your windows and doors. It’s estimated between seven and 12 per cent of a home’s heat-loss occurs in these areas, with older properties particularly prone to draughts. If weather-stripping has already been done, check it regularly as it will need replacing every few years. If you can see daylight under the doors then warm air will escape here too – in some cases, the door threshold might need adjusting to eliminate this properly.
Look for gaps around window frames and wherever pipes or cables enter the property in both exterior and interior walls. These can be easily filled or sealed, and it will make a real difference to keeping heat inside the home.
Get the heating system serviced. Breakdowns always seem to occur at the most inconvenient time, but a regular inspection will reduce the likelihood of problems and will also ensure the system is working as efficiently as possible.
Clean the chimney. If you’ve got a fireplace, it’s essential to make sure the flue is clean and clear of any blockages. This won’t just make sure it’s operating at an optimum level – it will also reduce your risk of a chimney fire. If you have a fireplace that’s not used, consider blocking it off properly so that heat can’t use it as an escape route.
Consider installing plastic film on large windows, such as sliding patio doors which can account for a surprising amount of heat loss. This transparent covering is easy to apply and barely noticeable once in place.
Here’s a rather unnerving fact, as highlighted in research from insurance company CPP: a million Britons have moved house because of disputes with their neighbours. Yes, one in 20 of us have opted to sell up because of increasing tensions with — or bad behaviour from — the people who live nearby.