It's time to 'winterise' your home
With several months of cold weather still ahead of us, it makes sense to work on ways to keep the warmth in and the chill out of your home - while also cutting down on those horrendous winter electricity bills.
One of the easiest things to do is check all the windows and exterior doors to make sure there are no gaps where cold air can get in - and apply weather-strip to any problem areas. You may also want to change to heavier curtains in winter as this helps to prevent heat-loss to the exterior, especially at night.
Next, you should ensure that your ceilings are properly insulated. This prevents the warm air in the rooms that you have heated up from escaping into the roof void or exterior. There are all kinds of insulation but if you're only installing it now, your best bet would be "green" material made from recycled paper or plastic, as it is very efficient.
Another important step is to check your roof itself for any loose tiles or sheets, and if you have any fireplaces or woodstoves, ensure that their chimneys and flues are all clean so that they burn well and generate more heat. Indoors, cut down on electricity usage for heaters by making more use of jerseys, thermal underwear and blankets - and only warming up the rooms you are actually using. Electric blankets are also more efficient than trying to heat up your whole bedroom before you go to sleep. If you are using an electric oven for any reason, leave the door open once you've finished cooking and don't waste the heat you have already generated.
In areas where temperatures can drop below freezing, you should check that any outside water pipes are also properly insulated - and disconnect and empty any garden hoses so there is no water in them that can freeze and cause them to burst. And if you haven't already done so, you should buy a geyser blanket this winter. This will help to keep water that has already been heated up warm for longer - and save electricity.
Meanwhile in winter-rainfall areas, it's important to clean out your gutters and install leaf guards to prevent them from getting blocked and overflowing in all the wrong places. In addition, you should give any wooden decks an extra coat of sealer to keep out the winter elements. In those regions where rain is often also accompanied by high storm winds, it is really worth going around your garden and cutting off any dead or hanging branches off trees and shrubs before they damage your roof or windows on a cold and wet winter night.