Some years winter "hits harder" than others.
Quite often people will go away on holiday and it is warm.
They don't leave their heating on (or if they do not very high) and think they will not have problems.
A few days after the holiday has started the weather turns very bad at home, freezing conditions for example and upon their return from skiing or a winter break in the Caribbean they arrive home and the ceiling is on the floor and water is gushing out.
This is bad enough on a house, but could even worse if you are in apartment below.
What you should do: This applies just as much to a person renting as an owner occupier.
First of all you can turn off the water supply whilst you are away and drain the system down, but this means it all has to be set up when you return and can take time.
Instead people can keep the heat on at a low temperature and also put in a frost stat.
These are not very expensive and if the temperature drops below four degrees centigrade, the frost stat will activate the heating system.
It is no good just turning the water off at the mains as there is still normally water in the property - pipes - radiators and internal tanks.
Before winter sets in check the condition of the roof.
Make sure there is proper guttering and all tiles are secure and remember if you have a conservatory or area with a glass roof below to ensure the builder has installed good quality wire mesh to stop tiles slipping if they are loose and if they have snow on them, they would be much heavier.
Check the roof space inside - you should insulate the attic and if there are pipes and water tanks there they should be fully covered in a suitable insulation material.
You could have a situation of a family in Ireland who went off on their winter holiday to the sun.
They didn't take any precautions for the house and when they returned found the water storage tank had burst and half the ceiling was on the floor.
If you have not got a light in the loft, have one installed - helps so that you or your contractor can see properly for a close examination.
If you don't make sure you have taken adequate precautions, you could possibly find that when you go to make an insurance claim, the claim is declined by the insurance company.
It doesn't cost a lot to prepare a property and even a relatively new property should be checked from time to time as insulation can wear out etc.
The cost of keeping a property warm whilst it is unoccupied should not be too expensive.
You don't need the hot water to be on much and if for example it is rentalor for sale property that is empty between tenancies - it is much more welcoming to walk into a warm place than one that is cold, damp and probably smells.