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Get your home winter-ready

Get your home winter-ready

Category: Home insurance

Updated: 23/10/2015
First Published: 19/10/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

We hate to say it, but summer is over. The end of British Summer Time is fast approaching, and when the clocks go back this weekend, the nights will start drawing in – which makes now the perfect time to check that your home is set for winter.

Don't invalidate your insurance

As well as keeping your home safe and secure for the colder months to come, giving your home a winter once-over can ensure you don't invalidate your home insurance policy. As Age UK Enterprises points out, most policies require a home to be properly maintained if claims for weather damage are going to be valid, so you'll probably want to use the few final weeks before the weather really turns to check that your home is winter-proof.

Start by making a checklist of DIY jobs that you can start ticking off, and if necessary, consider hiring a tradesman to help – it may seem an unnecessary expense, but it could be far cheaper than needing to book an emergency call-out should a lack of preparation mean something goes wrong at a later date.

"Preparation is key to protecting your home and avoiding expensive and urgent call outs when the weather changes," said Gordon Morris of Age UK Enterprises. "There are a number of worthwhile checks homeowners could be doing to the exteriors and interiors of their homes whilst the fair weather remains, which could save them time and money in the long run.

"Additionally, digging out your insurance policy terms and conditions and checking you are covered for incidents such as storm damage and burst pipes could help avoid any unexpected costs should the worst happen."

Get checking

As well as checking the small print of your building and contents insurance policy so you know exactly what you're covered for, there are a number of other things to consider checking so you're prepared for the winter weather:

1. Roof tiles. You can give the roof a visual once-over, but if you've got any concerns, you'll want to get a professional to take a closer look. Now's definitely the right time to check that the tiles are secured and sealed correctly, as you wouldn't want to find out to the contrary during a winter storm.

2. Guttering. There'd be nothing worse than finding your guttering was blocked during a particularly heavy downpour, so make sure that everything is clear and operating as it should be. Hop up a ladder to take a closer look – ensure that any leaves or obstructions are removed, and pay special attention to the ends of the guttering or any junctions – or if you can't do it personally, ask friends or a tradesman to help.

3. Garden furniture. You may have been used to keeping your garden furniture outside for the last few months, but as the evenings get colder and the darkness draws in it's time to store it away. Not only will this mean that it avoids damage and wear and tear during the winter months, but it also means that you're not putting anything at risk of theft from opportunistic burglars taking advantage of the darker evenings.

4. Insulation. Insulation is particularly essential at this time of year to ensure that your home stays warm and toasty throughout the cold spell, so you'll want to check that you've got the right kind (and amount) of insulation for your loft and cavity walls. Efficient double glazing can also help keep homes warm – check the seals on windows and doors to ensure you don't lose precious heat – as can simple things like draught excluders, and if you need anything to be addressed, it'll be worth speaking to your energy provider to see if you qualify for free energy saving home improvements.

5. Boiler. You may have turned the boiler on already, but if not, don't wait to feel the chill before you check that it's in working order. You'll want to get the boiler serviced on a regular basis anyway, and you could ask the plumber to check that the radiators are in good working order, too. You may find that you need to "bleed" the radiators to get the air out and ensure even heat distribution – this can be done on a DIY basis, but if you're unsure, get someone to help.

6. Gas and electricity. Whether you've turned the heating on already or are braving it out until November, it's got to happen sometime – and that means higher gas and electricity bills. It isn't just the heating, either, as winter means higher energy usage all round (the lights will be on for longer, and the oven will be used more regularly as salads are replaced with stews, etc.), so prepare for the big winter switch-on by comparing energy tariffs and see if you can find a cheaper deal.

What next?

If it's almost time to renew your home insurance policy, compare quotes to see if you can get a more competitive offer from another provider, and you can be confident that you're truly winter-ready.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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