9 Easy Ways To Get Your House In Order
The nights are drawing in and it’s time to prepare for those chilly winter months ahead. Money expert Sue Hayward has a checklist of potential weak points…
FIX NIGGLING JOBS
Think like an estate agent and vet your home. Take a wander round, noting everything that needs fixing and soon you’ll have things in tip-top shape!
A leaky tap may not seem like a must-do job on a Saturday morning, but it can waste the equivalent of half a bath of water every week. This costs money if you’re on a water meter, and can mean a plumber’s bill if the problem persists.
It’s also worth knowing where your stopcock is, in case you need to switch off the water. It’s usually a tap or lever under the sink.
CHECK INSURANCE POLICIES
Check your home insurance is up-to-date and make sure you know exactly what your policy covers. No need to read the thing from cover to cover, as most policies outline the main areas along with the level of cover for a quick check.
The good news is that insurers must now tell you how much you paid for your policy last year, so it’s easier to spot any huge price hikes on renewal. This is more incentive to shop around, which is quick and easy if you use comparison sites like COMPARETHEMARKET.COM or MONEYSUPERMARKET.COM.
PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY
Once the clocks go back, burglaries go up by a third, according to Co-op Insurance.
Check any fences surrounding your property are secure and gates and sheds have decent padlocks. Most home insurance policies exclude storm damage – so as you’ll have to stump up and replace any frail fences that blow down, it would be better to get them fixed first.
Make sure outdoor lights are in working order as these can be a deterrent for potential burglars. If you don’t have any, it may be worth investing in battery operated sensor lights. These come on when someone approaches the front door, and they’re easy to fit as they don’t need wiring. Pick them up from around £15 at DIY stores or on Amazon.
GET YOUR BOILER SERVICED
Do this before the cold snap, otherwise you could end up with no choice but to pay hefty emergency call-out charges if the heating packs up and you’re left shivering. g
Check if you’ve got boiler breakdown insurance first, as this may cover the cost of an annual service.
If you don’t have insurance cover, you’ll have to pay for a service, so shop around and make sure you use a Gas Safe registered engineer. You can find one at WWW.GASSAFEREGISTER.CO.UK
Winter is when heating bills can go sky-high as you crank up the heating. Most energy companies hike their prices at this time of year, too. If you don’t want to check comparison sites, you can now simply sign up to WWW.LOOKAFTERMYBILLS.COM which automatically switches you to the best deal that will save households an average of £250 a yyear.
HOME EMERGENCY COVER
This is usually an add-on to home insurance and can cover everything from central heating breakdowns to blocked toilets and drains. It’s worth considering – however, as it’s emergency cover this means if you’ve got a spare loo in the house, you may not get a call-out if only one is blocked! Hang on to numbers of plumbers, heating engineers and anyone who’s done work for you around the house. This way, if you need help in a hurry, you’ve got tradespeople you can trust and rely on. And while you can’t keep spare parts for everything in the house, do keep a supply of batteries in different sizes along with a range of light bulbs.
FREE FIRE SAFETY CHECKS
Ask your local fire service for a free Safe & Well check – previously known as a Home Fire Safety check.
This is worth having as your local fire service will visit your home to check for potential fire hazards including overloaded plug sockets, wires trapped under carpets or dangerous electric blankets.
They can fit free smoke alarms, too. Find out more at WWW.FIRESERVICE.CO.UK
BUY A COSY JACKET
Not for you, but for your hot water tank! This should be about 80mm thick according to the Energy Saving Trust and costs around £15 in DIY stores. It will save you at least £20 a year, so it’s a worthwhile investment!
Add some layers in the loft, too. Loft insulation can make a big difference to keeping the heat in your home, rather than paying to heat the birds on the roof outside.
Check for draughts around windows and doors, and plug any gaps with some draught excluder tape.
Secure any sheds and outbuildings