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Lockdown blamed for boiler breakdown surge

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The number of boiler breakdowns over the winter was up by 12% on the year before.

That’s according to new data from heating specialist Hometree, which suggested that this was in large part down to the national lockdown.

The firm said that heating use always goes up during the colder months. More than 50% of boiler breakdowns occur over the winter months, which Hometree suggested tends to equate to around 2.5 million households suffering a heating failure. However, it suggested that if the increase Hometree has seen is replicated across the UK then that would mean around three million households have seen their boiler go down this winter.

Why boiler breakdowns are on the rise

Boilers are more likely to break over the winter months simply because they are put under greater strain. As the temperatures drop, we all use our heating more often, and that inevitably can lead to issues.

However, our boiler use has increased sharply because of the national lockdown. Millions of us have been told to work from home far more often than usual, while plenty more people are also at home due to being in furlough or having lost their jobs.

Even if you are able to go out to work, the lockdown means that there is little to do outside the house by way of entertainment when the working day is done, with no gyms, pubs, cinemas or the like open. And spending more time at home simply puts even more strain on our boilers, to a level never seen before according to Hometree.

Kemley Sellars, head of marketing at Hometree, said: “With the boiler being a crucial component in ensuring that homes are kept comfortable during the coldest months, the additional usage whilst working from home has meant increased wear and tear. It really highlights the importance of having your boiler serviced in the coming months, ensuring that it’s working for next winter where many may have transitioned post-Covid to working from home more often.”

Looking after my boiler

If your boiler hasn’t yet developed issues, then there are plenty of things you can do now to ensure that it remains in good health for next winter and beyond.

Here are some of the steps highlighted by Hometree:

  • Check your radiators for cold spots. These are normally caused by trapped air ‒ if you find any cold spots then you may need to bleed them.
  • Get your boiler serviced every year.
  • Insulate your pipes. This can protect them against the risk of being frozen.
  • Keep an eye on your boiler pressure. If it drops, you could lose hot water.

You may also want to consider looking into insurance for boiler breakdowns. However, it’s important to do your homework to ensure that you don’t end up paying more than you should for this cover.

What about my energy bills?

This increased boiler use has a more immediate financial impact than simply putting our boilers under strain though. After all, that greater energy use will directly lead to larger energy bills.

Hometree reckons that 12% increase can lead to an extra £55 per year being spent on energy.

This is particularly notable when the energy price cap has just been increased, meaning millions face bigger energy bills. The simplest way to beat this price cap ‒ and cope with the increased energy use ‒ is to shop around for a new fixed tariff whenever your existing deal comes to an end and ensure you don’t spend time on your supplier’s standard tariff.

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