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Winter-proof Your Home to Keep Cosy

Winter will be here soon, and with it comes the threat of severe weather that can wreak havoc on your home. High winds can loosen roof tiles, colder temperatures can freeze water pipes and heavy rainfall can result in flood damage. As the Met Office has already predicted record-breaking rainfall this winter, now is the time to winter-proof your house. (more…)

IPT Hikes Home Insurance Premiums

The insurance premium tax (IPT), which rose to 12 per cent on 1 June, has caused the average annual premium to increase by 7 per cent, raising home insurance costs by £131. This is the sharpest rise within the past three years. As home insurance is vital, follow these tips to help you keep your costs as low as possible:

  • Increase your excess. By paying a higher excess, you may be eligible for a reduced premium on both your buildings and contents insurance. However, keep in mind that if you have to a file a claim, you will have to pay that increased excess.
  • Review your policy. The value insured for your buildings insurance needs to reflect what the cost would be to rebuild the property and not the market value, which is likely to be higher.
  • Combine your buildings and contents cover. Research whether you could save money if you combine your buildings and contents cover, or if it would be cheaper to keep them separate.
  • Determine whether paying upfront or by instalments would be cheaper. Compare the one-off sum and the various instalment options to see which is the most cost-effective.
  • Reduce your risks. The more protection your home has, the safer it will be and the more affordable your premium. This could involve the following:
    • Fireproofing
    • Adding window and door locks and installing a burglar alarm
    • Installing strong, well-sealed doors and windows
    • Purchasing a safe
    • Insulating water pipes

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Barking Dogs and CCTV are best deterrents, say ex burglars!

According to a panel of former criminals interviewed by Co-op Insurance, burglars are most likely to be put off breaking into homes by CCTV cameras and barking dogs.

Nearly half of the 12 former burglars asked said most thieves were opportunists simply wandering the streets. They would therefore avoid any difficult break-ins or ones which might attract attention.

For that reason, installing CTV cameras are a good deterrent for home burglaries and car theft, while loud barking dogs, strong heavy doors, a switched-on TV and locked UPVC windows would also put off potential thieves. (more…)

How to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

This summer has been uncommonly warm, with June’s scorching temperatures making it the hottest month in 41 years. Such sweltering heat threatens the elderly, babies and those with underlying health conditions. Public Health England advises that excessive exposure to high temperatures can kill, and that heat-related deaths start to occur when temperatures rise above 25 degrees.

Led by June’s heatwave, the warmer weather this year has already taken 510 more lives than average in England and Wales. For homeowners, this news can be especially troubling, as homes rapidly warm up during the summer months. Here’s how to keep your home cool and your family out of dangerous heat this summer: (more…)

Top Tips for Preparing Your Home for Summer

It pays to inspect your home for safety and efficiency before the summer season fully sets in. While you can complete some of these cleaning procedures yourself, other duties require professional help to ensure the work is completed accurately.

  1. Clean out your fridge, freezer and pantry. Take everything out, wipe down the shelves and throw away expired food. Rearrange your food for better organisation and cleanliness.
  2. Organise the garage. Seasonal items can quickly become dusty and disorganised when not in use. Keep your garage clean and organised by installing shelving and by hanging tools on the wall.
  3. Examine door and window insulation. Make sure weather stripping sufficiently seals openings, and immediately repair any cracks or peeling. Then, open your windows to expose your home to fresh air.
  4. Inspect your roof. The roof is your home’s first defence against heat and rain. Maintain the roof’s integrity by hiring a roofing professional to examine its flashing, caulking and shingles.
  5. Sort your wardrobe closet. The winter months may have left your summer clothes buried and wrinkly. Use this time to rotate seasonal clothing, clean any dusty items and select old clothes for donation.
  6. Maintain your garden. Rip out weeds and dead plants, rake mulch and plant beds to promote oxygenation. Then, use a lopper to trim shrubbery and overhanging trees.

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5 Million Homes at Risk of CO Poisoning

Five million UK households are at risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions from hiring illegal and unqualified gas engineers, according to Gas Safe Register. Some areas are worse than others—96 per cent of the gas jobs in Leeds were found to be unsafe this year. Here’s how to keep your family safe when employing gas engineers: (more…)

7 Tips for Lowering Energy Costs

We’re in the depths of winter, meaning skin is dry and energy costs are high. To ensure that your savings don’t go down as you turn the heat up, follow these seven energy tips:

  1. Turn the thermostat down. If you lower the temperature by just two degrees, Energy UK estimates you could save about £85 per year.
  2. Inspect window and door seams. While it may seem airtight, there could actually be a draft seeping around the frame. By sealing up these leaks, you could save £25 to £50 per year.
  3. Perform maintenance on your boiler. Like any other piece of machinery, your boiler can benefit from annual maintenance to clear out build-up, lubricate fans, change filters and tighten fan belts. On average, this could save you at least 10 per cent on your heating bills.
  4. Limit hot water use. Limit your showers to about 10 minutes to avoid overusing hot water. Also consider purchasing a hot water cylinder jacket and installing primary pipe work insulation, which together could save you up to £45 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
  5. Move your furniture. Avoid putting large pieces of furniture such as sofas near radiators, as the furniture ends up absorbing a lot of the heat.
  6. Use energy-saving light bulbs. Energy-saving light bulbs can last up to 10 times longer and can save you about £50 over the course of the bulb’s lifetime.
  7. Add more insulation in your attic. Insulating or adding extra insulation to your loft, attic or flat roof helps reduce heat loss and can lower your heating bill. Loft insulation is generally effective for at least 40 years, so it is a wise investment.

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Cracking Your DIY To-do List

Using your winter downtime to tackle some do it yourself (DIY) projects around the house or flat? Follow these five tips:

  1. Start your project early in the day so you have time to fix it in case something goes wrong.
  2. Don’t do anything that you’re not confident about. If you have any doubt that you’re doing it wrong, do more research first.
  3. Stay safe. Leave electrical and gas work to professionals.
  4. If you’re using a new tool, practise on a piece of scrap material before using it on your project.
  5. Dress appropriately. Wear proper safety gear and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.

Certain home improvements can add value to your property, so make sure that you inform your insurer of any renovations you make, and make sure that your sum insured amount is still accurate. (more…)