While the temperatures have been hovering in the 20s recently, it is going to get colder in the Hunter Region. When the winter months really kick in, they often bring with them some unwelcome expenses – usually in the form of increased energy bills and if you’re unlucky, storm damage.

Here are some tips to help reduce your winter utility and maintenance bills:

Avoid the Draft

Air leaks around your windows and doors can account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill. Draft stoppers are a great way to prevent cold air from getting into your snug house under your door. You can buy permanent draft excluders that fit to the door, or make your own by simply rolling up a towel. Energy Australia advises stripping used for doors can also be applied between the window sash and frames. Gaps around window edges can be sealed with caulk – a waterproof filler that is available from general hardware stores.

Change your ceiling fan direction

Generally, we use fans to cool us down in the summer months, but if it’s possible, change the fan rotation to clockwise in the winter months. This direction will push the warm air that naturally rises back down, resulting in a warmer house.

Check Your Gutters and Downpipes

While clearing your gutters is important for fire safety reasons in the summer, they also need to be kept clear in the winter months when we have heavy rainfall. The same goes for your downpipes. Check they are clear and running into the appropriate drainage. You don’t want water flowing into or under your home causing damage.

Falling Foliage

We all love our trees in the summer as they provide us much needed shade, but the wild winter weather can turn them into a hazard by falling or swaying branches damaging your home. Cut back branches that are close to your house, but keep yourself safe – you may need to consider employing a professional tree surgeon to cut back some of the larger branches.

Keep your Home Fire Safe

Each year, the Fire and Rescue NSW attends approximately 4,500 residential fires in NSW with approximately 30% of them occurring in winter months, and 47% of fires starting in the kitchen.

We do use more electrical appliances such as electric blankets and heaters in the winter months, so now is a good time to check your smoke alarm, and if you haven’t done so already consider installing a carbon-monoxide detector.

For more information on how to keep your house safe from fire visit: http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=956

Service Your Systems

Now is a timely reminder to have your hot water and heating system serviced. A good hot water specialist will check for corrosion, assess the condition of the anode rod and filters, measure water pressure and if necessary flush the system out to remove debris. A well-maintained heating system will also be more efficient, last longer and reduce energy costs.

Turn Down the Thermostat

To keep your bills that little bit lower, turn down the thermostat by a couple of degrees and throw on another jumper. Snuggling under a blanket while watching a movie on a dark winter’s night can also be fun!

By doing some simple checks and changes now, you can look forward to a more comfortable few months to follow without the unexpected bills.

In the long-run, a well maintained home and garden adds value to the property. If you’d like to know more about how to winter proof your home, or what you can do to improve your house for sale, our team would love to help. Give us a call on 02 4954 8833, send us an email to mail@apnewcastle.com.au or pop into our office.