Winter check your home

Its an indication of how worried we are about heating bills that one of the most popular viral videos shows someone claiming they can heat a small room in their home for 8p (13c) a day – using tea lights and terracotta flower pots.

We can, however, retain more of the heat we pay for by making sure that it doesn’t escape. It’s not too late to give the home a winter check – the most obvious escape routes for heat are windows, doors, ceilings and floors.

It’s too late to have double glazing installed,but you could have existing units resealed. Doors should have draught excluders fitted (and if they are closed that helps too). Wooden floors need to be sealed and covered up for colder months with as many rugs as possible.

So much of the heat escapes up and out, however, so check the level of insulation. According to the Energy Saving Trust, insulating your home can cut down on 50% of heat being lost compared to a home with no insulation.

Also have a roofer check the state of the tiles, slates and flashings before the wettest months. It also makes sense to have guttering looked at. If it is blocked with leaves and water can’t escape, then damp can seep in.

The heating system also needs a thorough check and if a boiler is past its best then make sure you contact a Gas Safe-registered engineer to discuss whether a combination or regular condensing boiler is most suitable.

Pipes tend to be hidden and therefore forgotten, but they need to be properly insulated for any severe dips in temperature. If the house is going to be empty for any length of time, the heating should be left on at a low setting. This is particularly important for those living in flats, where a burst would affect other homes. For those who are going away, make sure a neighbour has a key or contact details for someone who does. Adding in the cost of repairing doors that have had to be forced to gain access is going to make the whole process more painful.

Have a look at the grants and discount database on the Energy Saving Trust website.

The Green Homes Cashback Scheme from the Scottish Government offers up to £1200 towards installing energy-efficiency measures. These need to be recommended in a Green Deal assessment and companies carrying those out can be found with a postcode search on the site. There’s up to £500 for insulation measures, up to £400 for a boiler and up to £300 for other measures (such as glazing, LED lighting and heating controls). The assessment will cost but if the claim is submitted before the end of the year, £150 can be claimed towards it.

www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/scotland or call 0808 808 2282

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