As the UK plunges into darkest Winter, Ellina Webb looks that essential items that need servicing now.

Ok, ok, so according to the clocks and the calendar, the UK is now officially in Winter but if you haven’t done your “servicing” yet, there is still time before the cold weather sets in.

The “servicing” that I’m talking about is maintenance of the crucial systems in your life that you need to work in order to have a happy, warm, safe and healthy Winter.

These crucial systems fall into 3 categories as I shall explain below…

Transport

For most people the main form of transport that they use is their car and with 31.7 million people in the UK owning a car, that’s a lot of vehicles that need maintaining. 

Essentially a poorly maintained vehicle can cause a lot of problems and for you, a lot of stress and tears when the bill arrives. I service my car every year mainly because it gives me peace of mind that it is safe to drive and safe on the road. This is especially true in winter where we all want to ensure parts like tyres are suitable enough to withstand harsh temperatures and icy conditions. 

It’s also in winter that I don’t want to find myself standing on the edge of the motorway, in the dark and cold, angrily shivering and shaking because my car malfunctioned half way round the M25. By servicing your vehicle every year, you know almost exactly what major issues needs to be fixed, and can plan and budget accordingly.  The alternative is finding out during a breakdown which makes the cost of repairs (along with the towing) an expensive pursuit (and the last thing you want before Christmas). 

Of course some things can happen regardless of a service, like a blown tyre, but at least with an annual service you can live with the fact that you did all you could to avoid the situation.

The other good point about servicing your car is that a dose of good health for your vehicle may make your car run smoother, help on your fuel efficiency and prolong the vehicles life.

It also helps with the car’s resale value as an annual service keeps a log of all work done and highlights to the next owner that it was well taken care of. After all with more than 8 million used cars sold in 2016, it’s a highly competitive market and you want your old car to stand out and make you most cash. 

In my opinion if you are looking to get your car serviced this year, it’s always best to go to your local branch of the car’s manufacturer, or the garage you bought it from in the first place due to their knowledge of the model and their trusted reputation. 

The AA's number 1 tip to avoiding a breakdown this Winter is to check your antifreeze, which is standard in most full servicing packages

Ellina Webb Ellina Webb Senior Marketing Executive

Home

It goes without saying that you should be investing in an annual service for your heating and hot water system, no matter what time of the year. First of all, a faulty system can cost you money because of poor efficiency. Also with systems like a gas boiler, leaks can put you and your family at serious risk. So all in all serving your heating system will give you peace of mind that you aren’t paying above the odds and you aren’t living in an unsafe environment. 

Gas boilers are still the most popular type of heating system in the UK, although as the world shifts away from fossil fuels, this type of system cannot dominate households for much longer. Having said that however, gas boilers are still an efficient solution for most homes on the gas network, although when your boiler reaches the end of its life you might want to research other solutions available. 

For those off-gas homes however, oil, coal and LPG have been important fuels for heating systems, along with electric heaters.

Nowadays though, there are also homes that opt for heating with renewable technologies like biomass which creates heat energy by burning wood pellets, or heat pumps (suitable for any on or off-gas property) that harvest energy from ground, water or air.

With a biomass boiler it is recommended that you service it regularly in order to ensure it is running as efficiently as possible – this is because ash can built up in the deposit chamber and high levels of soot are produced.

With a heat pump however, the lack of contact with a fuel takes away the issue of harmful debris. By using electricity to harvest renewable heat in the air, ground or water (depending on the system you choose) no other fuel is required. This also means that fuel deliveries aren’t required – as is the case with biomass, oil, coal and LPG– meaning you don’t have to stock up over the winter period, which is one less thing to worry about!

Using a heat pump is also highly efficient, even in winter. In fact the technology is also highly suitable for large commercial buildings – even Google are getting on board with using heat pump systems to renewably heat their campuses. 

However, as with all the other heating systems, it is still recommended that you service your heat pump regularly just to make sure everything is working at its best. At Mitsubishi Electric, if you use an Ecodan renewable heating system in your home (or business) we offer 3 servicing packages which all include cleaning, filter cleaning, pressure checks and control optimising. 

If you are an Ecodan owner, you can view the packages here.

You

Servicing yourself and your health before winter is a key step to take when reducing your chance of getting physically and mentally ill over the next few months. Free flu jabs are offered to a vast variety of people, not just those who are vulnerable to infection (which is common if you have diabetes or an autoimmune disease for example). A lot of employers also offer flu jab vouchers, especially in education organisations and of course in NHS centres – leaving it up to the employee whether they want to have it or not.

If you aren’t offered a flu jab or you don’t want to have a flu jab, increasing your intake of vitamins such as vitamin C will help, and altering your diet to include more vegetables and more hot meals isn’t a bad thing to consider either.

Of course the above servicing categories that I spoke about will also have benefits on your health. A warm home is a healthy home, in fact when temperatures drop to a low level, people can become more at risk to health conditions like heat attacks and strokes! So a reliable heating system is essential. 

Mentally, being cold can also impact depression, which is also more common in the winter due to conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms of SAD include persistent low moods, irritability and lack of energy. So having a working heating system, a good diet and a working vehicle are essential in easing life and offering peace of mind over the next few months. 

When it comes to avoiding illness, it’s also a good idea to be aware of washing your hands more regularly (and properly as this NHS video shows), monitoring weather and temperature changes, and dressing appropriately. 

If you do get ill over the winter period however, it’s always good to be aware of what symptoms mean, and have remedies on hand to ease your recovery. 

Ellina Webb is a Senior Marketing Executive at Mitsubishi Electric

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