Temperatures have dropped and there has been some snow in parts of the UK this week. Now is a good time to make sure your property is prepared for the winter weather. Planning can save you money in the long run on expensive repair work.

Here to help you are some useful reminders.

 Condensation 
As temperatures drop outside people are inevitably turning their heating on and you may start to notice condensation. Condensation can form on any surface and it may not be noticed until mould growth occurs.  Condensation forms more easily on cold surfaces (such as windows; walls and ceilings) and because of this, it is a good idea to make sure surfaces are kept warm which will reduce the amount of condensation. This can easily be done by improved insulation, as well as draught-proofing windows and doors. It is recommended that thermostats should be kept to the same temperature in every room of the property thus eliminating any cold rooms within the property. Improved ventilation should also be addressed if you find yourself vulnerable to condensation.

Check gutters are clear 
It is important to ensure that gutters are clear as a problem like this can get worse, be more expensive and difficult to repair the longer it is left. Consequences such as structural damage and damp can occur if problems are not sorted immediately. Blocked gutters can also freeze over if there is excess water or slow reduced draining from obstructions.

 Coal fire or wood burning stoves
Make sure your chimney is clear and swept if necessary. Test your carbon monoxide alarm. The storage area for your fuel should be dry and have easy access for deliveries. You should have enough space to store the fuel you think you will need to last you between deliveries at the coldest time of the year or even a little more. For wood burning stoves there are 3 main wood fuel types Logs; Pellets and Chips – Although chips are typically used for larger scale applications such as leisure centres or community heating schemes.

Logs: Obtained directly from trees, with minimum processing involved. Generally, they are just covered to keep them dry and left for one to three years to ‘season’. In this time, the moisture content falls from around 50% to 20%, and they become lighter. The drier the logs, the hotter the fire and the less smoke and tar will be produced.

Pellets: Derived from wood by-products from saw mills and wood manufacturing. Pellets are denser, drier (8 to 10% moisture content) and require around a third of the storage space of logs or chips.

Outdoor lighting 
We are fast approaching the shortest day of the year and it gets darker much earlier in the evening now. It is worthwhile ensuring that you and your loved ones feel safe by confirming front paths and entrance ways are appropriately lit. Do not forget the rear of properties for safe access to the garden and bins etc.

Walkways
Check that any steps and handrails are in a good condition. A vast majority of winter visits to to A&E are accidents and falls caused by slippery conditions in and around the home. Also remember that decking can also become slippery in bad weather.

 Locate the stopcock 
An obvious one but worth ensuring you know where it is located – a burst pipe; freezing conditions and panic can mean that you lose precious time trying to locate it if you don’t already know.

Insurance
No matter how well we prepare, problems can and do occur as a result of bad weather, so it is vital to make sure you have the appropriate cover for your home and contents.

Financial Help
There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills. It’s worthwhile claiming what you are entitled to. This could include a tax free winter fuel payment or cold weather payment.