THE UK is preparing for its coldest winter since 2012 and households in England, Scotland, Wales are being urged to make sure their homes are winter-ready.

After a mild autumn, winter is sure to provide a shock to the system as temperatures plummet in the lead up to Christmas in what is predicted to be the coldest festive period in eight years.

British Gas, the UK’s largest energy and home services company, fix around 1.2 million boilers each year and are urging people to prepare their homes now.


People are being advised to prepare their homes now, to ensure their heating and hot water systems can see them right through to next spring, as well as learning how to resolve any minor issues themselves.

British Gas service and repair engineer, Hannah Hughes said: “We know that having no heating or hot water during the colder months is people’s worst disaster in the home, and this week could be the first real test for many households’ heating systems.

“Making a few small changes around the home will help ensure your heating and hot water system is working at its best.

"What’s more, a system that’s in good shape will keep you warmer for longer without using more energy than it needs – an important way to keep your bills down, at a time when more people are working and socialising at home.

Hannah has shared ten top tips to keep your homes warm this winter and save money on your energy bill.

10 tips to save money on your energy bill.

Bleeding your radiators:

Air can enter the system when you’re not using it over summer – and when it forms bubbles at the top of your radiators, it stops them from working efficiently. If you notice cold spots at the top of your radiators, switch them off and after they cool, turn a radiator key in the valve at the top to let the air out.  It’s worth having a rag or a small container to hand to catch any drips.

Don’t forget that bleeding your radiators may cause the system pressure to drop – you can spot this by checking the pressure gauge on your boiler, and it’s easy to top up if needed.

Cold spots at the bottom or in the middle of your radiators might mean you’ve got sludge building up – sorting this out is more complicated, and you might need to call an engineer to help flush out your system.

Wrapping your pipes up warm:

We often come across frozen condensate pipes – which don’t actually require specialist training to fix. The best solution is to stop the water inside your hot water pipes from freezing in the first place – water expands when it turns to ice, which can lead to burst or damaged pipes. 

Insulating materials are an easy, cost-effective solution, available from most DIY stores – if you keep your water system nice and cosy, it will do the same for you.

Shutting out the cold:

You wouldn’t leave the back door open when the heating’s on, but warm air could still be escaping without you realising – and cold air could be sneaking in!

Draught excluders are available from most DIY stores, and they’re an easy and affordable way to draught-proof your home. 

As well as sealing the joins around your doors and windows, don’t overlook extra measures like letterbox brushes, chimney balloons and even keyhole coverings.

Furnishing for warmth:

Think about where your heat sources are, and make sure your radiators can do their job properly. Putting your sofa in front of a radiator may keep the best spot in the house extra toasty, but it will absorb heat that could be warming the rest of the room. 

Curtains and rugs have an important part to play as well – thick material (the thicker the better) prevents heat from being lost through windows and doors – just don’t forget to open your curtains during the day so that the sun can do some of the work!

TLC for your boiler:

In our experience, people often don’t give much thought to their boiler until something goes wrong with it. Your boiler is essential to keeping the household going, so it’s well worth looking after – and regular services can prevent problems from arising, full stop.

Being energy smart:

Unsurprisingly, winter is peak season for energy usage. Making the most of smart tech like thermostats means you can control your heating on the go and avoid wasting money on energy you’re not using.

For example, if you’re stuck at work or delayed on the way home, you can use your smartphone to stop the heating from coming on too early and warming up an empty house.

Also, if you have a smart meter installed, you can see how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence, helping you to identify where you can make savings.

Installing a carbon monoxide detector:

Faulty central heating systems are one of the most common sources of carbon monoxide in the home.  You can’t hear it, see it, taste it or smell it, and it kills around 30 people a year – but fortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. 

As well getting your boiler checked once a year, it’s essential to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted.  Available through British Gas or from your local DIY store, the detectors last between five and seven years, so check yours is in date and test it to make sure it’s working.

Keeping everything ticking over:

Like a car that hasn’t started for a while, your boiler can seize up if it’s not turned on for an extended period of time.  It’s a good idea to run your central heating for at least an hour a day during the colder months – even if you’re not in the house – to make sure it keeps running smoothly.

Troubleshooting wisely:

While there are plenty of simple fixes that you can make around the house, it’s important to know where to find trusted advice, and to recognise when you’ve reached your limit and need to call in the experts.

British Gas have launched a digital advice service called Solved on Screen Live where an engineer will talk you through the process of troubleshooting in real time. Find out more here.

Getting the help you’re entitled to:

It’s always worth finding out if you’re eligible for extra assistance with your energy bills, especially before the cold weather sets in.  £140 winter rebates are available through the Warm Home Discount scheme.