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Don't let the cost of the cold snowball out of control
Make sure you don't have to pay out more than you should because of the cold weather.
It’s that time of the year again, when Britain’s insurances companies get, ahem, snowed under by holidaymakers, homeowners and motorists.
By avoiding and being prepared for icy conditions you can save a fortune in your home and out on the road.
We all want to be wrapped up warm indoors when the cold front hits so make sure that your home can withstand the adverse weather.
With gas and electric bills increasing, making the most of your heating is a must, and don’t forget about regular maintenance to make sure the heating is working when the cold spell comes in.
British Gas have some top tips for getting the most out of your heating:
- Bleed your radiators: if a radiator has a cold spot it means there’s air in the system and you will have to bleed them. To do this, turn the system off and turn the radiator key until the air stops and the water runs consistently.
- Block breezes: make sure windows and doors are sealed to stop the air escaping or fit draft excluders
- Curtail with curtains: hang heavy, lined curtains to trap the heat and if you have venetian blinds tilt them so the blades face down, curved side to the room
- Thermostat; set your thermostat at around 21°C, but remember by reducing your room temperature you can cut your bill by around £60 a year
- Water tank: if you have a water tank insulate the hot water. It will cost you around £15 but you’ll save £35 on the boiler jacket and £10 on the pipes in the first year
- Insulate: insulating your loft and walls can save you £145 and £110 a year, respectively
- Don’t waste heat: fit thermostatic radiator valves so you only heat the rooms you use
If you’re escaping the cold and going on holiday then make sure you take precautions at home, said Paul Havenhand, head of insurance at the Post Office, who recommended keeping drains clear and putting the heating on a timer to go on once a day.
‘As temperatures plummet, homeowners are at risk from frozen water pipes bursting – leaving their property at risk of flooding. There are some simply precautions people can take to minimise damage to their home from the colder temperatures; ensuring loft insulation is sufficiently thick and leaving the heating on a low setting while out of the house will limit the risk of having frozen pipes.
‘People should also ensure their home insurance policy provides them with the level of cover they need. Should pipes freeze and burst, homeowners should contact their home insurer for assistance immediately.’
What to do if the heating breaks down
If your central heating and hot water stop working then you need to follow these tips:
- Check to see that there are no other causes – are the other gas appliances and electric sockets working?
- Check isolation switches are on and that the trip switch in the fuse box is on
- Check the thermostat, it may be a case of turning it up
- Check the appliance controls on the boiler, is the temperature dial up?
- Is the boiler pressure between one and two bar? If it is too low, turn the values next to boiler until you see it going up
- Reset the boiler’s timer
- If you have a pilot light that has gone out, check the manufacturer’s instructions to see how to relight it
We’re all going to need to use our heating more so brace yourself for an increase in your bills. Comparison site uSwitch.com estimates that it will cost an extra £7 a week to heat our homes.
Consumers need to make sure they are on the most competitive rate and that they factor in any increased heating use into their budget so they’re not caught out.
Tom Lyon, energy expert at uSwitch.com, said: ‘It costs just over £3 a day on average to heat a home, but during a severe cold snap this could easily rise by £1 a day. If freezing weather sets in for a month, it’s perfectly feasible for households to see an extra £30 added onto their next energy bill and this will be a real struggle for some.
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