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Vicky’s top tips for preparing your home for winter

With the temperatures starting to drop, now is the time to ensure that you are ready for the winter, especially if it brings another year of snow and freezing temperatures.

Vicky Gouldney, our Commercial Property Advisor at Stockland Green Opportunity Housing & Training (SOGHT) and Pioneer Places (subsidiaries of The Pioneer Group), shares advice that helps to keep her tenants safe and warm in the colder months.

1. Get smart with your heating

It’s always worth taking some time to get to know your boiler! We’ve always found that if the thermostat on your boiler has a timer function, you can set yourself up for a cosy winter. With clever use of the timer, you can always wake up and come home to a warm house without leaving the heating on 24/7. These days there’s no need to worry if you have lost the instructions, there are plenty of videos on YouTube and guides on Google, so you may be able to find one about your thermostat.

Don’t forget that your house or flat will take a while to heat up and cool down, so try setting the timer for 20 minutes before you wake up and 15 minutes before you leave.

There are also new smart thermostats around which learn your daily habits and can be controlled remotely, so if you forget to switch off your heating and have gone away for a few days, you can switch it off via your phone.

Also, don’t forget to turn down or off the radiators in rooms that you don’t use often.

2. Avoid condensation

Warm air on cold glass and walls produces condensation, but thankfully problems (especially mould) can be solved quickly without the need for professional help or a large bill.

My top tip is to always make sure that your property is well ventilated by opening windows, especially when you are having a bath or shower or cooking. Your window doesn’t need to be wide open – we keep ours open a few centimeters – and always remember to lock them before going out or to bed. On some windows, you can lock them while they are open too.

If you have no windows in a bathroom or kitchen, be sure to use your extractor fan or get a dehumidifier to help tackle some of the moisture – even those small ones from the bargain shops can make a big difference.

A sudden rise and drop in air temperature is a regular culprit of causing condensation too so having a constant reasonable temperature in the home can help.

3. Make sure your gutters and drains are clear

Cleaning your gutters is one of the least glamorous jobs around the house – think wet leaves! But clear gutters can help you avoid major issues this winter, as they ensure that rainwater and melted snow drain away to the right place. Filled with heavy leaves, gutters can also pull away from your house and cause leaks that damage your home and lead to mould growth, so once all the leaves have fallen, it’s a perfect time to pick up some gloves and get clearing.

4. Ensure your boiler is serviced regularly

There is nothing worse than having a boiler break down during the coldest months of the year. An annual boiler service can help to reduce the chances of unexpected breakdowns or maintenance issues over winter. For all tenants of The Pioneer Group, we carry out this service annually as part of our maintenance contracts to ensure our tenants are safe and warm.

5. Don’t forget your winter bills

With Christmas around the corner and the rise in energy consumption, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on the pennies wherever you can to compensate.

If you want to reduce bills, think about switching to a new energy supplier who can offer you a better deal. Customers often stay with the same suppliers out of habit, but by switching you could be getting better value elsewhere.

Dig out those pullovers too. If you turn down the thermostat just one degree and put on a jumper, hoody or cardigan, and you can save money on your heating bill. While you can keep warm with extra layers, think about your window coverings! Using thick curtains as a layer to keep warmth in and cold air out.

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