This week was the first frost for many households, which means it's time to bundle up and get our homes ready for the winter.
Cold, wind, rain and eventual flurries can do serious damage to houses, not to mention cost you a small fortune in heating bills. But a little bit of care and attention now can help you save later.
Whether you live in a house in the country or a flat in the city, here are some easy things you can do to ensure that you're ready for the cold-weather season.
1. Stock up on firewood
If you depend on a roaring fire to keep your house warm (or if you just love the cosiness of a real fire), then now is the time to sweep away last year’s ashes and stockpile logs for the season.
2. Get your winter essentials
You don't want to wait until the first flurry of frost to realise you've misplaced your snow shovel, salt or de-icer for the car. Get those winter essentials now!
3. Clean your gutters
Gutters that are full of debris can lead to water backing up against the house, which in turn can damage your roof and cause leaks. Make sure your gutters are clear to keep your home warm and dry.
4. Get your boiler inspected
It can be a good idea to have your boiler serviced by a professional, as a broken one in the middle of winter isn't just costly to fix, but a total pain. Don't forget to check your insurance policy to find out if you're covered for winter emergencies.
5. Inspect trees around your house
Check for branches that could break or that are too close to power lines or the roof.
6. Get your windows and doors ready
Make sure windows and doors are properly insulated to prevent cold air from creeping in. Repair any cracked or broken windows, fix seals and caulking, and check for drafts.
7. Hire a chimney sweep
How often you clean your chimney depends on how often you use it. If it's just a weekend or two every year then you may only need to clean your chimney once every three years. However, many professionals recommend getting your chimney cleaned every year so ask an expert to take a look.
8. Check the roof
Make sure there are no loose or missing roof tiles or cracks in the walls, that your drains are clear and working and that your TV aerial is firmly fixed.
9. Swap out your bedding
10. Get your kitchen winter-ready
Bring out the slow cooker and stockpile the freezer with hearty stews, curries and soups. Having a fully stocked kitchen means that you won't have to make a trip to the supermarket on an icy cold day!