How to prepare for future cold snaps, snow & ice

When I was thinking about the ways I could insulate my own home against future cold snaps, I came across an excellent Wales Online article by Graham Henry of the South Wales Echo. Having lived in Wales for three years when at Lampeter University in Dyfed during the early 1980’s I recalled a time when I was one of only a handfull of students that had gone back early before the start of the term, only to be caught up in and witness the greatest snowfall of my lifetime, yes far greater than the January 2010 snowfalls in Southern England.

The snowfall was so great, there were drifts over seven feet deep and all the roads were impassable even for snowploughs and tractors! All the electricity supplies were cut off for days and the only heating we had was the gas stoves in the Refectory (at least we had food!). None of the University rooms on campus had any heating, so at night we literally froze, however many layers of clothes and gloves we wore. We ended up being cut off by road for over a week, something I will never forget, as it delayed the start of term. Boy, did we appreciate heating and lighting after that!!

So when I read “How you can beat the big freeze and cut your carbon footprint” published on Wales Online on 12th January 2010 by Graham Henry of the South Wales Echo I thought it would be helpful to let you read the article, given the recent Arctic conditions in the entire UK.

“THE big chill has meant many people have been forced to stay in their homes and crank up the heating. That can hit not only the pocket — leaving many fearing higher bills during the cold snap — but also the environment. Wales already has the unwanted title of highest carbon emitter in the UK, with the Energy Saving Trust estimating we waste £200m of energy every year due to poorly insulated homes. So, as the mercury plummets, we have a handy guide of top tips to keeping warm this winter without harming the environment or your bank balance.

1. Cavity wall insulation

Cavity wall insulation saves around £115 a year from heating bills. The typical cost of installation is about £500, but with many grants available to qualifying Welsh residents the cost can be as low as £99.

2. Loft insulation

Insulating your loft can save around £150 every year on energy bills at the recommended level of 27cm. The typical cost of installing loft insulation is around £250, but there are many grant schemes operating in Wales to help ease costs. Insulation reduces the need for the heating to be on high, and leads to less energy being wasted.

3. Replace old boilers

Replacing an old boiler with an A-rated one and fitting a full set of heating controls can reduce your heating bills by up to 40%. Any boilers that are more than 15 years old can be considered G-rated and might be inefficient. The Government’s boiler scrappage scheme offers a £400 cashback voucher when you scrap your old boiler and replace it with an A-rated boiler or renewable heat technology.

4. Tweaking your thermostat

Turning the temperature of your thermostat down by just 1°C can save you 6% on your heating bills — about £30 a year. You probably won’t notice the difference at home but, if you do find that you’re cold, set your boiler to come on earlier, That way, you won’t be cold while you wait for the house to heat up.

5. Water tank insulation

Just fitting a â€Ŕjacket” around your water tank could save you about £35 a year and190kg of CO2. Installing a British Standard jacket around your tank reduces heat loss by more than 75% and insulating your primary pipe work can save another £10 from your bills and around 60kg of CO2 emissions.

6. Draught proofing

Draught proofing your windows and doors can save about £25 a year and around 130kg of CO2, meaning that it often pays for itself within a year. Seals are usually made from self-adhesive foam, rubber or brush material and you can get them from DIY shops or you can have a professional fit them.

7. Wear layers

There is often no substitute for keeping warm by wearing a few layers of thin clothing rather than just one big, bulky item. Try wearing slippers inside and don’t leave the house without a warm hat and scarf.

8. Glazing

Installing double glazing in your home can cut heat loss through windows by 50%, as well as saving you £135 a year on your heating bills. It can also cut around 720kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) usage a year. For those who can’t afford double glazing, there is a budget alternative. Cover windows with a clear, plastic film that tightens over the pane when heated with a hairdryer, which reduces heat loss cheaply.

9. Blocking unused chimneys

You can seal unused chimneys with newspaper or a purpose-made â€Ŕchimney balloon” which inflates to block the fireplace. Remember to take them out again should you decide to use your chimney.

10. Stick to new year’s resolutions

Stopping smoking is a little-known way of keeping warm during the cold snap. Not only will it save you money, but kicking the habit can improve your circulation within just two weeks and means that you don’t have to go out in the cold to have a cigarette.

Exercise can also help circulation and keep you warm from the inside. You don’t need to join a gym, just a little bit of housework each day can improve your health and reduce the need for heating.” (“How you can beat the big freeze and cut your carbon footprint” published on Wales Online on 12th January 2010 by Graham Henry of the South Wales Echo)

For advice on how to stop wasting energy, you can contact the Energy Saving Trust on freephone 0800 512 012 or visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

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