More than one-third of homeowners will – or already have – switched off their heating earlier than usual this year to save on bills. With energy prices set to soar from 1 April, new research from Gas Safe Register has found that nearly 8 million households may be braving the cold at home due to money worries.
As well as switching off earlier than usual, nearly one-third of households (31 per cent) will skip booking their annual gas safety check this year, due to the cost-of-living crisis. This is despite a majority (77 per cent) being aware that regular servicing can help gas appliances run more efficiently, and in turn save money on household bills.
Gas Safe Register has teamed up with meteorologist and TV weather presenter Clare Nasir, to launch a new national campaign – Switch Off, Check On – warning homeowners of the false economy and safety implications of not getting their gas boilers serviced and safety checked. It also reminds them of the benefits of getting this done before many are retired for the spring and summer months.
Checkatrade.com estimates the average cost of having a gas appliance safety checked is £80 a year to to avoid unexpected and potentially more serious issues occurring. In contrast, if a boiler breaks down, each call-out could cost up to £200 – replacing a boiler can cost thousands of pounds. Not getting regular safety checks could also invalidate warranties or conditions of insurance policies.
The Met Office’s Head of Civil Contingencies, Will Lang, who works to help communities to stay safe and thrive in all weather, says: “As we continue through spring, our advice at the Met Office is that being prepared is the best way of being ready for any potentially unsettled or unusual weather.
“As people start to think about turning their boilers off, the best way of being prepared for any cold snaps is to get ahead with maintenance and get a service once you’ve finished using your boiler rather than waiting until it’s needed again. This will mean you’re ready to go if the forecast turns cooler and you’re already prepared for next winter.”
Clare Nasir, Meteorologist and TV weather presenter, says: “Spring weather can often be deceptive – especially with colder mornings, which can take many by surprise.
“When planning to turn off the heating for the months ahead, it’s imperative that homeowners are prioritising gas safety in their homes and ensuring they do not skip their annual gas safety checks. Although homeowners, understandably, are concerned about the increased cost of living – there are real risks to health, wealth and safety linked to not servicing and safety checking their gas appliances, such as gas boilers.”
Mike Fairman, CEO at Checkatrade, says: “As energy prices soar, we’ve noticed changes in homeowner demand for heating and energy efficiency measures. March is usually a busy month for boiler engineers: we’ve seen a 28 per cent decline in demand for repairs. This could suggest that people are switching their boilers off early, as they seek to save money on heating bills. We’re also seeing signs that homeowners are preparing for next autumn’s eyewatering bills – with searches for smart thermostats rising sharply by 23 per cent and insulation searches by 17 per cent – again bucking our usual seasonal trends.”
Bob Kerr, Gas Services Director at Gas Safe Register, adds: “With the cost of living rising across the country, including higher energy bills, there is no denying that we’ll all be feeling the financial squeeze over the coming months and year. But much like with our health, prevention is better than cure when it comes to gas safety and keeping you covered for the unexpected.
“Many engineers get busier in the autumn and winter months when central heating within homes is turned on, and at a time when badly maintained boilers throw up problems. That’s why we want to encourage homeowners to adopt a Switch Off/Check On approach to gas safety this spring, and ensure they have peace of mind by considering booking their annual boiler service with a Gas Safe registered engineer.”