Are you ready for winter?

The weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse over the last week or two and winter is almost upon us but are you ready for it?  Here is a few ideas for things that you can easily do to get your house ready for the cold and to save energy.

1. Draughts – if you have draughty doors or windows rty to seal them up.  You can get strips of adhesive backed foam in your hardware store which will help to seal windows to the frame.

2. Light bulbs – Low energy type? Although incandescent bulbs are less inefficient in the winter as their waste heat is contributes to heating the rooms we use. But even with low energy bulbs,  switch them off when you’re not using them

3. Loft Insulation – if you don’t already have this, it will make a big saving on your energy use.  If you already have insulation between the roof trusses, perhaps 100-150mm thick, you would still benefit from an additional layer across the joists to give a total thickness of at least 250mm – this would meet the minimum standards for new build houses.  B&Q are currently discounting some of their loft insulation. Take care when installing loft insulation so that you don’t fall through the ceiling, and wear a dust mask – the insulation can give off irritant fibres when it is being moved about.  You shouldn’t put insulation under any water tanks in the loft – they require some heat escaping from below to prevent them freezing in the coldest weather.  You must also ensure that an air gap is left between the insulation and the roof pitch at the sides if the loft – this is to allow the loft space to breath and prevent condensation forming.

4. Curtains – Even draught free windows lose heat – between 4 and 5 times as much as the same area of wall on a modern well insulated house – but a set of heavy curtains or blackout blinds will trap an volume of air between the room and the glass, significantly reducing heat loss. Closing them as darkness falls and the external temperature drops will save you energy.  If the outside temperature is very low, 15-20 degrees Celsius  less than inside, you would save more energy by closing the curtains during the day and using a low energy bulb for lighting.  This could, however, become depressing and is not recommended for prolonged periods of cold weather.

5. Central Heating Programme – time to review the programmer and thermostat setting. Do you really need the heating to come on for an hour in the morning so you can eat your cornflakes in your pyjamas before leaving for work for the day?

6. Clothes – woolly jumpers, fleeces and thick socks will let us turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees without significant discomfort. We are getting by at about 15°C at the moment.

7. Blankets – We don’t really need to heat our bedrooms.  Residual heat from the living room will keep the bedrooms tolerable and once you get under a duvet and blanket y0u will soon warm up.

8. Hot water tank – this is another source of energy loss. If you have a hot water tank it should be well insulated, and the temperature should be set high enough to meet your needs but no higher for two reasons: it takes more energy to make the water hotter (only to mix it with cold water when you use it) and the energy loss is proportional to the difference between internal and external temperature.  While checking the insulation on the tank, it is also worth checking the lagging on your pipes, especially in the loft, as we don’t want frozen pipes.

9. Plan use of waste heat – only use the tumble dryer when you are in the house and can benefit from the heat it gives off, allow the heat from cooking to circulate, put clothes over the hot water tank to dry for a start.

10. Emergency supplies – put together a box with emergency supplies such as torches, batteries, snow shovel, de-icing salt or grit, candles and possibly a camping stove.

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