Winter is just around the corner and Highland inhabitants know what that means: cold weather.
The north of Scotland is always colder than elsewhere in the UK, and the coldest temperatures on record have been recorded in this area, as revealed by the Telegraph.
There is no getting away from the fact winter brings additional challenges to our way of life, from logistics to simply staying warm at home.
Now is the time to prepare your home for winter, with several key aspects of home heating to consider ahead of the freezing temperatures and inevitable snow.
We are already into the chilly autumn months, so your heating is likely to already have been on, but if not, it is wise to check everything in advance of the colder weather.
Turn all radiators on in the house and gradually increase the temperature, to ensure that your boiler is eased in after a summer of little use.
It might be wise to have your equipment serviced as well, to ensure consistent performance over the winter.
If you do burn solid fuels, make sure your chimneys are swept and any other heating equipment you have is tried and tested before the cold weather lands.
If you live remotely or operate a solid fuel or oil-fired heating system, now is the time to check your fuel levels.
The last thing you want is to be running out of fuel during winter and having to wait a day or two, at best, for a new delivery.
Make sure oil tanks are topped up and ensure if you burn solid fuel that the wood is chopped, and that you have plenty.
Many modern cottages have a central heating system and a wood burner to fall back on, but it is certainly prudent to check you are equipped for the cold snap.
Heating system breakdown can cause troubling times for homes and it is worth ensuring you have some level of protection, in the event of the unfortunate.
HomeServe recommends getting boiler and breakdown cover to prevent unforeseen problems caused by a breakdown and that is especially prudent in colder areas of the country.
In the harsh Highland winters, this peace of mind can be vital, especially for more remote properties, which may be difficult to reach in severe conditions.
If you do not have cover, you may face weeks without adequate heating and a big bill once the problem has been rectified.
Having some degree of cover will alleviate much of that stress and financial impact.
Producing heat is pertinent, but it is also hugely important to make sure you use it effectively once you have it. Insulation is hugely important in retaining heat in your home, and as the John O’Groat Journal reports, there is help available for those who need it.
The Scottish government approved an increase in grant aid to drive energy-efficient measures in the area, which has gone some way to keeping residents warmer.
Even if you are not eligible for a grant, putting extra insulation in your roof may well help you stay warm this winter, so it might be a good time to get a tradesman to check how efficient your home is.
You might also want to check out our article Scotland Faces Tory Winter Crisis as UK Unemployment Hits 3 Year High for more winter news from the Highlands.