Book your boiler in for a service by an OFTEC (for oil) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered technician before winter sets in. They will check everything is working correctly, identify any potential problems and improve efficiency. These technicians have been certified as fully competent so you can be sure all servicing will be completed safely. The oil tank and pipework should also be checked during a service and we recommend that the owner monitors their condition throughout the rest of the year.
According to the research*, over 90% of homeowners switched their heating back on during October or November when temperatures dropped below 13C, but previous winters show that many failed to prepare their system for the cold snap, leading to a surge in demand for heating technicians.
In response OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, has produced a winter checklist for households with advice on how to help avoid potential winter problems, as well as top heating tips and how to save money on fuel costs.
The advice includes:
Adjust the timers on your heating controls to ensure the house warms up only when you need it to. The recommended minimum temperature for your main living area is 21C. Also, remember to turn down individual radiators in rooms you are not using.
Bleed your radiators to ensure they are working as efficiently as possible. This is when you let out any trapped air inside which can leave 'cold spots'. You can do this yourself by turning off the heating and using a radiator key.
Ensure you have enough fuel in your tank to last through winter if you are one of the oil heated households in the UK. If not, place an order as soon as possible to avoid the last-minute rush. We recommend using a firm which is a member of the UK Independent Fuel Distribution Association (UKIFDA) and follows strict safety guidelines.
Consider upgrading to a modern condensing boiler if yours is over 15 years old. This can reduce your fuel consumption and carbon emissions by up to 20%, helping you make significant savings. These models also tend to be smaller, run more quietly and can be readily adapted to a new low carbon liquid fuel alternative to heating oil, once this becomes available.
Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, said: It's that time of year when most of us have already switched the heating back on and the focus shifts to getting ready for Christmas. When everything is seemingly working as it should, it's easy to forget about the boiler but if you suffer a breakdown, it quickly becomes a real concern.
The best remedy is prevention which is why we recommend taking a few simple steps now before the cold weather really starts to bite. Having your system serviced by a qualified technician will help identify and potentially resolve any problems before they become more costly to fix further down the line.