Millions are likely to turn off the heating this winter despite the cold, in a bid to cut their gas and electricity usage. Instead of saving money, they land a staggering £20,000 bill instead.
Incredibly, one in four of us are planning to do without heating this winter, while almost three-quarters plan to turn their heating on less.
Yet low temperatures at home can be deadly, with each centigrade degree reduction below 18C corresponding with an extra 3,500 deaths.
Pensioners and the disabled are particularly vulnerable because they spend more time at home and need to be warm to stay healthy.
Households that delay turning on the heating face another risk that could cost them a lot more money than they are likely to save.
If you turn off the heating and there is less hot water running through your plumbing as a result, there is a much greater chance of their pipes freezing.
This causes ice-cold water to expand and crack the pipes, causing a fortune if they leak or burst and flood the property, More Than Insurance has warned.
Gas and electricity prices have been capped at £2,500 a year for the average household, under the Energy Price Guarantee.
That is still more than double last year’s cost and those in bigger homes or families with high consumption could pay even more than that.
Cutting back on energy could be a false economy so think twice before allowing your home to turn icy.
Insurance claims for burst pipes typically peak in January and February each year, so we are heading into the peak season for claims.
More Than claims director Suzy Tiffany said its figures show the average repair bill is a staggering £20,000.
“Burst pipes can cause serious damage to your home, leading to a lot of worries and potentially requiring substantial repairs.”
She is urging homeowners to keep their heating systems well-maintained and insulated to reduce the risk.
“It is also a good idea to make sure you know where your internal stopcock is so that you can switch off your water supply and limit the damage if affected.”
The ideal time to have your boiler serviced in the summer or early autumn, but now is better than never.
“If your boiler isn’t working efficiently when the winter comes around, cold spots in the system will be vulnerable and could lead to burst pipes.”
Tiffany also called on households to insulate pipes and water tanks, especially in colder areas such as outside and in lofts. “Pipe lagging and tank jackets are available in most DIY stores, just make sure to check the pipe and tank measurements first.
“If in doubt, speak with a plumber who will be able to arrange and fit it for you.”
Encourage airflow, too, she advised. “If you have pipes and tanks in your loft, opening the hatch to your loft during icy weather allows warm air from the house to rise and reach pipes in these spaces.
“Letting warm air circulate around the pipes will in turn help to prevent them from freezing,” Tiffany said.
Also, fix any leaking taps and make sure they are fully turned off when not in use, Tiffany added. “Make sure you know where your internal stopcock is, so that you can switch off your water supply in an emergency.”
While all of the above tips help to prevent your pipes from freezing, if you are likely to be away from home in the winter for a long period, you may want to consider draining the pipes completely, Tiffany said.
Do this by shutting off the stopcock and opening the taps around the house to ensure that there is no water left in them to freeze while you’re away. “Otherwise you could come home to a nasty surprise.”
Remember to turn off the taps once the system is drained, she added.