Boiler bother leaves householders facing £280 bill
Almost seven in ten households are due to have switched their heating on by the end of this week, but new research from uSwitch.com reveals that many will be leaving themselves at risk of running up a large repair bill. Over six in ten households (62%) don't have boiler cover in place. And yet, almost a quarter of households (24%) suffered a broken down boiler last year, leaving them £280 out of pocket on average.
With finances being stretched, almost four in ten households without boiler cover (39%) say they can't afford it. However, over a quarter of all households (27%) say that it is essential while 21% say that, after the recent cold winters, boiler cover is more necessary now. Just one in ten (11%) think that boiler cover is unnecessary. However, with budgets being squeezed, 37% think it is too expensive.
But holding back because of cost backfired for many households last year and some are mindful that the last thing they need now is an unexpected bill. As a result, over two in ten people (21%) considering taking out boiler cover are doing so because they wouldn't be able to afford any nasty surprises this winter.
Almost three in ten (29%) of those planning to take out cover are looking for peace of mind as they are worried that this winter will be another cold one, while over a third (35%) are worried that their boiler is old and more likely to breakdown.
With the cost of cover starting at £130 a year, or just under £11 a month, this could be a good option for those on a tight budget, offering a £150 saving compared to the average cost of repair. Cheaper cover is available, from just over £87 a year, but this can have an excess attached, which may be difficult for some households to pay.
Tom Lyon, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: "It seems an easy saving to make, but going without boiler cover could leave you strapped for cash if your boiler packs up and you don't have the money spare to pay for repairs. The average repair bill last year was £280. If this would be difficult for you to find then boiler cover could give you peace of mind.
"If boiler cover is the right option for you then it is vital to shop around for the best deal. It's important to note that some of the cheapest plans carry an excess. If this would be difficult for you to pay then you might be better off going for a slightly more expensive option that doesn't have an excess. Prices and the level of cover can vary, with some suppliers also including an annual boiler safety inspection. Importantly, you are not obliged to take boiler cover through your gas supplier - you really are free to take advantage of a deal that suits your household's needs."
uSwitch.com's top heating cover tips
1 You don't have to sign up for heating cover with your standard gas supplier, choose the most appropriate cover to suit your needs
2 An annual service and safety inspection helps reduce the chance of fatal carbon monoxide leaks and improves energy efficiency
3 Boilers that are not regularly serviced will produce less heat from the gas consumed, which in turn means they cost more to run
4 Often, a boiler will break down without warning. Sometimes when one part starts to go wrong other problems rapidly follow. Here are a few tell-tale signs to watch out for:
a. The radiators don't get as hot as they should
b. It takes a long time to get hot water from the taps
c. Strange banging noises could mean trouble, so call for help straight away
5 To help prevent boiler bother, you can:
a. Make sure that you keep the whole area around the boiler clean
b. Have regular maintenance checks
c. Don't overheat your home
6 Turning your central heating thermostat down by 1 degree Celsius could save you up to 10% on bills
7 Replacing an old conventional boiler with a high-efficiency condensing boiler will save you around a third on your heating bill, and up to 40% with the right heating controls
8 Carbon Monoxide is the ‘silent killer' - poisoning can be avoided by ensuring that fuel-burning appliances have the correct level of ventilation. Never allow chimneys or air vents to become blocked. Have your appliances checked by a Gas Safe Register engineer once a year.