In Britain, it’s generally easy to tell when winter is on the way. The clocks go back, the roads become periodically un-drivable, and a steady procession of alarmist headlines grace the front of the Daily Express, each featuring subtle phrases like ‘killer arctic blast’ and ‘big freeze’, and accompanied by a picture of the United Kingdom encased in a block of ice.
As such, many of us are quite cynical when it comes to predictions of a Game-of-Thrones-style snowpocalypse. So much so, in fact, that when an especially cold winter really does come along, we’re often surprised at just how cold it is.
But, in fact, there’s a strong chance that this year might really be a cold one, thanks to El Nino effect, which causes the arctic jet stream to move up and down across the Atlantic. This is similar to the 2010 winter, one of the coldest in recent memory. Or, to put it in the words of house Stark: winter is coming – and so it’s advisable that it be prepared for it doing so.
This preparation should largely consist of ensuring that your home is a bearable place to be. This means ensuring that it’s properly (and preferably inexpensively) heated. Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which this might be done.
Keep the heat in
The best and most obvious way of improving the energy-efficiency of your home is to take steps to keep the heat in. Double glazing and cavity wall insulation have both been proven to be effective, as has loft-insulation. But great gains can also be made by simply closing curtains and shutters. This is all the more so if your curtains are of the heavier, blackout variety; but even if they’re not, you can easily supplement them with some tacked-up blankets.
Open doors are a particular concern, especially in homes where draughts are a problem. If you’re in the habit of congregating in a single room most evenings, then you’ll want to focus your efforts on that room – since heating the others will be a little more wasteful. Installing a draught excluder can work wonders at the bottom of the door – and keyholes and letterboxes might be covered with flaps.
It’s wise to go looking for potential sources of draughts. You might start this by looking in the obvious places – perhaps you’re already aware of a few of them, and these places often make excellent starting points. But draughts can also often turn up in the most unexpected of places – by simply plugging a few gaps in your skirting board, you can save significant amounts on your annual heating bill. Similarly, if your house is undergoing renovation, you might consider insulating beneath the floorboards in order to prevent further heat loss.
Special thermal leak detection devices are available, which make searching for weaknesses easier – if you’re struggling to track down that elusive leak, or you simply have an enormous property to search, then such a device may prove a worthwhile investment.
Invest in a new boiler
New technology can make an enormous difference between a cold home and a warm one. While replacing a boiler might seem a significant investments, the savings yielded can be co-ordinately significant. This is especially so if you’re moving from an older, G-rated boiler to a newer A-rated one.
As a rule of thumb, boilers older than twenty years will benefit from replacement. But be sure to investigate fully before committing, as this is an area where retailers are keen to tout misleadingly low headline prices which don’t factor in things like labour and shipping.
Lower your thermostat
Though it might sound like such a simple solution that it’s almost not worth mentioning, one can reduce spending on one’s heating by more than fifty pounds annually by just nudging the thermostat down by a single degree. Of course, this isn’t always so simple; some homes do not come equipped with thermostat, and of those that do, many are of the older, analogue sort – which are nowhere near as precise as more modern digital thermostats.
As well as precision, a digital thermostat also presents homeowners with other tools. For example, one might invest in a thermostat equipped with a timer, so that temperatures in the home can be kept lower during the daytime, when the home is empty, and higher in the evenings, when it is occupied. By saving yourself money on your heating when you’re not in the house, you’ll have more available to keep the place toasty when you are.