The thermometer is definitely heading downwards, as we rush towards Christmas. It looks like this winter is going to be a much colder one than recent years, so it’s time to make sure your home is warm and cosy before everyone starts to arrive for the festivities.
However, the best-laid plans can and do go wrong with home plumbing and heating, especially in cold weather. Frozen pipes and boiler failures can mean a very ‘bleak midwinter’ indeed! So here are a few tips on how to stay toasty warm this Christmas, avoid those boiler and plumbing disasters, and keep the cost down as well.
Get a boiler check before the guests arrive
If your heating system relies on a boiler, then book a boiler check to make sure it’s working properly and efficiently. Getting in touch with a British Gas engineer is a good idea. They are trusted right across the UK to service, repair gas boilers, and are fully GasSafe registered too, so you know you’re dealing with professionals. A maintenance and service check will set you back around £100 (unless you have a contract that includes boiler maintenance), but in the long run a properly maintained boiler will actually end up costing you less as it heats your home more efficiently.
Once your boiler has been fully serviced and checked, you can relax knowing that you’re not going to be plunged into Arctic temperatures on Christmas morning, when it’s practically impossible to get an emergency engineer out before the turkey refreezes.
If your home is heated by solid fuel such as smoke-free coal or a log burner, then make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel in well before the big day. Check your log store is dry too, as there’s nothing worse than trying to keep a fire going with wet logs. A warm, flickering fire is a great way to welcome guests, too, giving your home that cosy Christmas feel as soon as they walk through the door. However, make sure the chimney has been swept before, so that your fire is smoke free and burning efficiently. If people ask you for ideas for a Christmas present, how about a ‘door snake’ – a draft excluder that stops any heat escaping underneath the door? They’re cheap, they’re fun, and they’re surprisingly efficient, keeping your room toasty warm.
Protecting your pipes
In very cold weather, there’s always the risk of pipes freezing. While they’re frozen there’s not a problem, but once they start to thaw then the expansion of the water in the pipes may have cracked or split a connection point, and you’ll suddenly find you’ve got a serious leak.
To avoid burst pipes, get a plumber to do a winter check to ensure exposed pipes are properly protected and in good condition. Lagging can keep your pipes just a degree or two above freezing, avoiding the misery of water coming through the kitchen ceiling on Christmas morning.
If you’re concerned that temperatures are low enough to cause a problem, then keep the heating on to raise the temperature of the water in the pipes and stop them from freezing.
Stay warm, but save energy
The simplest way to stay warm is to turn your thermostat down. Despite what you may think, just a drop of a degree or two could save you a considerable amount on your winter heating bill, yet you’ll barely notice the difference. Making sure your home is thermally efficient also keeps costs down and the inside of your home warm.
Old windows and draughty doors let heat pour out, while a lack of loft insulation will allow massive amounts of heat to escape. Government schemes are available for low income and at-risk householders, such as the elderly, to ensure lofts are properly insulated and properties are protected against the cold. It’s worth contacting your local council to find out if there are any schemes in your area that you may be eligible for.
Have a warm Christmas!
It’s nearly time to put up the tree, close the door and curl up in front of a fire with loved ones. So by doing a few checks before the big day arrives, you should be able to have a warm and comfortable Christmas, without breaking the bank. And if things do go wrong, make sure you’ve got emergency gas engineer and plumber numbers handy, or a British Gas contract that gives you complete emergency coverage if your boiler does decide to go on the blink.