Broken central heating costing £64m too much

Wednesday, 15 March 2006 12:00

UK residents are paying £64 million more than they need to for repairs to broken central heating systems, new figures show.

Unnecessary call-out charges on top of hourly rates of up to £76.47 see Britons waste billions on fixing heating, data from reveals.

The independent comparison service points out that even repairing the most common faults could cost some £470, but boiler insurance is available for £6.99 a month.

And boiler breakdowns and heating faults are more common than many people think, with over two million heating systems needing repair in 2003 – the equivalent of one every 15 seconds.

“The decision to take out heating cover is often viewed as an unnecessary expense, but when you consider the prospect of being without hot water and heating, or being landed with a bill of up to £470, it becomes incredibly cost effective,” said Tim Wolfenden, senior product manager at uSwitch.

“Unfortunately boilers tend to break down more frequently in the winter. Even outside of the winter months, it is a good idea to have your boiler inspected once a year to try and avoid problems before they occur.

“Anyone with a boiler should, at the very least, look into the benefits of heating cover, and decide whether they can actually afford not to have it in place.”

Heating cover protects a range of services including boilers, radiators, and thermostats with some also including an annual service or inspection.

And to try and ensure that boilers run smoothly, uSwitch has provided some advice for hassle free central heating.

uSwitch’s top tips

  • An annual service and safety inspection that cleans vital parts, helps prevent carbon monoxide leaks and improves gas efficiency.
  • Regular services offer you greater safety by reducing the risk of Carbon monoxide leakage.
  • Boilers that have not been serviced will produce less heat from the gas consumed which in turn means they cost more to run.
  • Often a boiler will break down without warning. Sometimes when one part starts to go wrong other things rapidly follow.

Signs your boiler might be giving up the ghost:

  • The radiators do not get as hot as they should.
  • It takes ages to get hot water from the taps.
  • Strange banging noises could mean trouble, so call for help straight away.

To help prevent boiler bother, you can:

  • Make sure that you keep the whole area around the boiler clean.
  • Have regular maintenance checks.
  • Do not overheat your house.
  • For safety and efficiency, have your boiler serviced regularly. Replace your boiler if it is over 15 years old.

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