As December nears and temperatures get closer to 0c, it is crucial to prepare your home for the winter months ahead. In our latest blog we look at 5 tips that can help make your home warm and comfortable for you and your family.
1. Protect your water pipes by Insulating them
Burst or frozen water pipes are a casualty you do not want in your home this winter. Pipe Lagging is a simple, inexpensive and quick solution to protecting your water pipes. Insulating hot and cold water pipes saves energy heating hot water and preventing water pipes from freezing during cold spells.
Insulating hot water pipes can raise water temperature, allowing you to turn down the temperature to save energy. Pipe insulation can also keep water hotter for longer periods of time, meaning your boiler won’t have to work as hard to achieve the same temperature. Cold water pipes should be insulated to prevent them freezing as temperatures drop. A frozen pipe can burst resulting in thousands of euros worth of damage.
The return on investment for pipe insulation is short and can easily be installed as a DIY project.
Another effective way to cut heat loss is ensuring your cold and hot water tanks are insulated with a lagging jacket. Again these are easy to install and with prices starting at €12.00, these jackets will cost you less than what you could save in one year.
2. Service your home’s boiler or heat pump
It is preferable to service your home heating system before winter, but fear not, there is still time! Having your boiler or heat pump serviced ensures it is working to its full efficiency and ready to serve your home this winter. Please find a qualified and experienced technician to carry out the service. For gas boilers, technicians should be registered with the Register of Gas Installers of Ireland.
Servicing your home’s heating system will ensure it continues to operate efficiently. This includes replacing parts that may be at the end of its useful life, and ensuring the air-to-fuel combustion ratio is still within specification. The technician should also check for leaks and overall performance of the heating system, including testing for carbon monoxide leaks. Servicing your home’s heating system should be on your list of things to do every year. It will ensure the system is in top running condition and help catch any minor issues before they turn into major problems.If you’re interested in upgrading your home’s heating system, look into our Electric Ireland Incentive or the Better Energy Homes Scheme for grants and discounts.
While we’re on the subject of heating systems, you should bleed your radiators regularly to ensure they are working to full capacity for heating your home. Air can get trapped in the radiator preventing it from being filled with water. To bleed the radiator you must turn off the central heating, check to see there is some warm water in the system, locate the bleed valve on the radiator, use a bleed key (easily available in any DIY shop) and turn it 180º anti-clockwise to expel air trapped in the system. When all trapped air has been expelled, it will start to drip water and you can close the valve. Your radiator will now be able to fill to full capacity with warm water.
3. Upgrade your home Insulation
If you have an older home you may have ineffective insulation installed or none at all in your walls, floor or attic. Did you know that 10% of your homes heat loss comes from badly insulated floors? A full 25% can be lost through inadequate attic insulation.
Insulation is like a huge blanket in your home, keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer.
Insulation upgrades can be expensive but there are a variety of grant schemes and incentives available that will help offset costs. SEAI’s Better Energy Homes Scheme offers cash grants for a wide variety of measures. Your home must have been built before 2006 to qualify, but the scheme is not means-tested. You can choose from a variety of insulation contractors that are registered with SEAI to offer the grants. Most contractors will assist you with the grant paperwork, and it’s important that you receive approval before the installation begins.
KORE also offers an Energy Efficiency Incentive with Electric Ireland that can be combined with the Better Energy Homes Scheme. This incentive offers discounts on your gas or electricity bill as long as you are an Electric Ireland customer. You may also switch providers to take advantage of this incentive. You can see if you qualify for the Electric Ireland Incentive here.
If you own a home built before 2006, and are in receipt of either Fuel Allowance, Jobseekers Allowance for more than 6 months with a child under 7 years of age, Family Income Supplement or One-Parent Family Payment, Domiciliary Care Allowance, Carers Allowance (must be living with person you care for), you may qualify for free insulation upgrades under SEAI’s Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme. There is no cost as long as you fully meet the requirements of the scheme. You can learn more by visiting the KORE Warmer Homes Scheme website.
If you’re interested in upgrading other areas of the home in addition to insulation, there is the SEAI Better Energy Communities Grant which can offer a grant of up to 35% on energy efficiency upgrade measures in the home. Measures such as full window and door replacement, heating control upgrades, solar pv and thermal systems, mechanical & heat recovery ventilation. Download the Better Energy Communities brochure now.
4. Draught Proof your home
Draught proofing your home is one of the easiest and least expensive things you can do to help keep cold air out and warm air in. Make sure to draught proof any gaps around your home’s windows and doors. You can purchase draught proofing strips from a variety of hardware shops, or through the KORE Shop. Door draught proofing brushes are perfect for the bottom of timber doors, and you can seal up your home’s letterbox with letterbox double brush covers. Draught proofing products install easily and can be done as a DIY project.
Another trick to keep warm air from escaping is to use heavier curtains on your windows. A huge culprit of heat loss comes from uncovered windows, and you would be surprised at how much heavier draping can assist in conserving your homes heat.
5. Keep your Chimney clean and clear
A regular chimney inspection and cleaning is needed if your home has a stove or fireplace. A clean chimney ensures there is no dirt, debris or soot stuck in the chimney breast. Often we hear of birds nests stuck in a chimney top, and items like these and accumulated debris can cause fires and unnecessary smoke. The more often you use your fireplace, the more often you should have it inspected and cleaned. A regular chimney sweep may cost as low as €50, but prices can vary depending on the time of year and your location. Make sure to only hire someone with the necessary training and experience to get the job done right.
Once your fireplace has cooled down, please close the fireplace flue to stop heat escaping and cool air entering.
While we are at the roof of the house, it is important to have clean gutters all year round, but especially as winter approaches. Clear the gutters from leaves, twigs and moss that can block the drainage and allow rainwater to drain at the side of the house causing damp and mould. A clean gutter lessens the chance of it freezing over and cracking with excess weight on it, costing you thousands for a replacement.