As the Autumn leaves start to fall and the darker, colder nights set in, we all need a cosy haven to retreat to. That’s why now is the perfect time to do a bit of seasonal maintenance to turn your home into a safe, warm and inviting haven for chilling and entertaining.
With that in mind, we’ve put together an Autumn prep checklist, so brew a cuppa, tick them off one by one and help yourself to a stress-free Autumn in a snug and comfortable home.
1. Give your boiler a health check
Get all gas appliances in your home serviced and inspected at least once a year by a competent Gas Safe registered engineer. Autumn is the ideal time of year. While the engineer is there, ask him/her to carry out a tightness test of your gas installation pipework. The test will determine if you have any gas leaks in the house.
Know your trusted team
Make a short, simple list of trusted traders to turn to if the unexpected does happen. HomeServe offers a repair service as well as boiler cover which includes a free boiler service in year 1, so whether it’s repairing a noisy boiler or stopping a pesky leak, we’re here to help.
Now is also a great time to double-check any home insurance policy details and renewal documents and make changes if needed. Do it now and you won’t have any last-minute panics if anything goes wrong.
2. Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
Autumn is the time when we start turning on the heating and lighting the fireplace (if you have one). So it’s vital to test all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re working properly.
Carbon-based fuels are safe to use
It’s only when the fuel – gas, oil, wood or coal – doesn’t burn properly that excess carbon monoxide (CO) is produced, and this is poisonous. CO is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas often referred to as ‘the silent killer’; if it enters the human body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, feeling breathless and in extreme cases collapse, loss of consciousness and death.
We all know the dangers of not having a smoke alarm, but if you haven’t got an audible carbon monoxide alarm also installed in your home, do both now. Ensure that the alarm is produced by reputable manufacturer and conforms to BS EN 50291 and display the BSi Kitemark. If you do have one, ensure the alarm is installed correctly to the manufacturer’s instructions and the unit operates correctly by pressing the ‘test’ button. It’s a cheap and simple task that could be a lifesaver.
3. Clean or replace your gutters
We’re so used to our gutters invisibly doing their job – draining thousands of gallons of rainwater down the sides of our houses – that we can sometimes forget that they need some love.
Nevertheless, now those Autumn leaves are falling, the potential for clogged gutters and drains is real. Avoiding a flooded interior and damaged exterior is the name of the game here, so take a close look at your roof. While you’re there, see if there are any damaged tiles or cracks as well as leaves and debris. Fix it up and you’ll be set for the winter.
4. Make your home more energy efficient
Did you know that now the heating is being cranked up in homes across the UK, a good 25-30% of it is being lost through leaks and drafts in windows and doors? To avoid unnecessary hikes to your heating bill, check for leaks and gaps yourself, or get a professional in to do it.
First, check all your window and door frames – feel for drafts around the edges. A handy tip is to run a lighted candle around the edge. If the flame flickers, you’ve most likely got a draft.
The two simplest ways to do the repairs yourself is to either install weather stripping around the frames or to caulk them.
Do your radiators need bleeding?
This is another cause of high energy bills – and you can easily check and bleed your radiators yourself. Buy a radiator key at your local hardware store and use it to release the air that has become trapped inside, which improves the efficiency of your heating system and makes your home warmer.
Tell-tale signs that your radiators need bleeding include gurgling noises, a radiator that takes a long time to heat up, or the top section feeling a lot colder than the bottom.
Don’t underestimate the difference these changes can make in creating a cosy home – and it’s probably the cheapest way to keep your heating costs down.
5. Get your cosy on!
Here are a few interior updates to consider to create a cosy haven:
Make Marie Kondo proud. Put the kettle on – and some of your favourite tunes – and have a good old clear-out of your kitchen cupboards, your paperwork, your bedroom, etc. It’s just the thing for clearing mental space too.
Drop off any unwanted clothes or packaged food that’s within its sell-by-date at your nearest supermarket charity clothes bank and food bank. They will go to someone who really needs them.
Subtly changing your décor to reflect this beautiful season will do wonders for your wellbeing. Go small by buying yourself some flowers in seasonal shades of red and orange. You might spot a cosy throw or rug in warm, neutral shades. Or you could go all-in with statement pieces in vibrant Autumnal hues.
‘Cosy’ = texture
More than anything, creating a cosy atmosphere is all about texture. Think throws and velvet cushions, chunky cable knit blankets and fluffy sheepskin rugs.
6. Give the garden some love
Although your lawn may appear to stop growing during Autumn, its roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Give it one last cut to keep it looking neat over the next few months – if you can time your lawn-mowing for a dry weekend, that is.
Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth, and make sure you trim any tree limbs that are close to power lines or your roof. Snow and ice can cause damage in the winter.
Think about warm exterior lights to illuminate any pathways and create a subtle, magical glow.
7. Let there be light
Speaking of illumination, it’s important to check the lights inside and outside your house to make sure they’re working properly. If you have small children, you’ll know they sometimes get frightened by the dark, especially in Winter.
Embrace ambient light
Warm lighting that’s evenly distributed throughout your rooms will bring a romantic ambiance to evenings at home. Consider a reading corner illuminated by a floor lamp, for example, or add some pendant lighting in the kitchen or dining room. Of course, candlelight is the ultimate in shimmering ambient lighting; just make sure you stay safe by blowing them out before bed.