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…

My Weekly - - Contents -

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

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