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winter cottage protection

Top Tips to Help Protect your Holiday Cottage against the Winter Elements

If you’re lucky enough to own a holiday cottage, Intasure have created a guide to help you protect your investment during the winter months.

Some people might think summer is the only time to relax in a cottage, but a winter cottage getaway has the potential to recharge the batteries even more. Why? Because it gets dark so early and it’s so cold outside, you have no choice but to spend a lot of your time reading, playing board games, chatting with your family, crafting, or watching the telly. Definitely enjoying indoor activities in a rustic and peaceful setting can be just as enjoyable as summer outdoor activities, but it’s unlikely your holiday cottage will be used all winter long so it’s also worth considering winter proofing your home.

You might think about drawing up a plan to winter-proof your cottage to protect it from the worst of the sub-zero temperatures when the property might be vacant. If your holiday home is damaged by the winter weather it could affect the possibilities of enjoying your holiday cottage or renting it out.

Before the freezing weather comes, you might want to take some preventative measures:

  1. Stay informed on the latest weather forecasts – you can add your postcode to the live Met Office Weather feed
  2. Have salt and/or grit and a shovel on standby to help prevent slippery paths or clear your path if there is heavy snow.
  3. Get your boiler and central heating serviced before the bad weather sets in – plumbers, heating engineers, or electricians might be busy during cold spells!
  4. Insulate your pipes, water tank and any exposed pipes in the garden – if your property has a swimming pool, ice can damage walls, so you need to winterize your pool to help avoid damage in it.
  5. Use thick curtains in living areas and draft excluders under doors. Open your curtains and let the sunlight in during the day to make use of this free heat! At night shutting curtains might help to add an extra layer of insulation in your house. You should make sure you don’t have any gaps or leaks to reduce condensation.
  6. Have an emergency checklist: torch and batteries, candles and matches, tinned food, warm clothes and blankets, contact details of utility companies and your insurer (claims department number, policy number and policy documents).
  7. Keep your heating on at a minimum temperature of 15°C (59°F) at all times, to avoid frozen pipes and let warm air circulate around the pipes by leaving the loft cover slightly ajar and the kitchen and bathroom cupboards open.

IMPORTANT: Repairs to burst pipes may not be covered by your holiday cottage insurance, as some insurers may apply some winter warranty exclusions.

cozy cottage

How to help protect your holiday cottage against flooding

Flooding might be caused by extreme rainfalls or melting snow after a cold spell. Have you ever suffered a flood? What would you do to prevent flooding in your holiday cottage? At Intasure we’ve included a guide to help reduce flooding and some preventable tips to improve your home conditions.

What should you do if you holiday cottage has flooded?

After the freezing weather, you may want to consider inspecting your home and checking if your property is damaged. If it is damaged you may be entitled to register a claim, and even follow other additional steps:

  1. Turn off the mains water supply and electricity, central heating, and immersion heater if there is serious water damage or risk of flooding that can compromise your safety. A qualified electrician should inspect the electrical system to make sure it’s safe to use.
  2. Notify your insurer.
  3. Take photographs of all damaged items to help support your claim.
  4. Keep carpet or rug samples and remove any contents that are damaged beyond repair, but don’t throw them away, as you may need them later for your claim.
  5. If your property has been water damaged caused by burst pipes and escapes of water, open the windows if it’s possible, so the property can begin to dry out.

How to heat a cottage in winter

Even in summer, temperatures in a UK cottage can be chilly, so heating is a requirement for a holiday cottage. Winter is a wonderful time for some people who are searching for holiday cottages to rent in the UK so long as it’s cosy and warm.

How to heat your cottage depends on the available energy source, the type of building, and your comfort needs. It's a personal choice:

  1. Central heating may be a good solution, as you can schedule central heating, but maybe it’s not so great if the property is also a rental cottage, as your guests may struggle to understand the system or select the right temperature for them during day or night times. Have you heard about smart thermostats? It is now possible to control the temperature inside your second home at a distance with smart thermostats, targeting occupied rooms or switching off if nobody is at home. The main requirement is an internet connection and a mobile app.
  2. Another heating alternative for modern cottages rentals in the UK are electric radiators, because they require minimal installations cost and each radiator can function independently, heating unused rooms can be easily avoided. They can be used with a pre-programmed timer and set for keeping a low temperature in winter months.
  3. Cottages with open fires and wood burners are among the most desirable things on the holiday cottage wish list. The sound and smell of a real fire roaring is a must-have during a winter cottage break (as well as dog-friendly cottages), as they provide a romantic atmosphere. In our guide to log burning stoves you might find helpful maintenance tips.

Do you know how you could save money on your heating bill? According to Energy Saving Trust turning room thermostat down by one degree you could potentially save up to £75 per year. The ideal lowest comfortable temperature is typically between 18 and 21 degrees.

Do you need insurance for a holiday cottage in the UK?

Holiday home insurance is slightly different from a standard home insurance, as these types of policies are specifically designed for second or holiday homes:

  • Properties that might be unoccupied for longer periods of time like during off-peak seasons - standard home insurance has a shorter unoccupied period.
  • Holiday cottages to rent in the UK are an increasingly popular trend, and homeowners need public liability insurance in place
  • Alternative accommodation for your paying guest, and you or your family, if your property suddenly becomes uninhabitable as a result of an issue such as flooding, fire, subsidence, or damage caused by a storm

When looking to insure your holiday cottage, Intasure offers the choice of buildings insurance, contents insurance or combined buildings and contents insurance.

  1. Buildings Insurance – covers the structure of your home and its fixtures and fittings (fitted bathrooms, for example) if they are damaged by events like flood, fire, and storm
  2. Contents Insurance – covers the cost of replacing or repairing your personal possessions if they are stolen or damaged by events like burglary, floods, fire, and storm whilst in your home
  3. Combined Buildings and Contents Insurance – covers both Buildings and Contents Insurance under just the one policy. This can make it more cost-effective and easier having both under one policy.

Snow and ice may be picturesque, but if you don’t take precautions sub-zero temperatures can damage your holiday cottage.

cottage winter

*The opinions and views expressed in the above articles are those of the author only and are for guidance purposes only. The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information.

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