Think twice before turning off heating this winter – it could cost you £13,000.

Energy bills: Couple discuss the increase in their prices

The Ofgem energy price cap was cut to £1,923 a year in October, but many households will still spend more on their gas and electricity than they did last winter. With energy bills expected to fall no lower than £1,700 for the rest of the decade, households are pulling out all the stops to save money.

Monday October 23 marked the big “switch on” when households reached for their thermostat as temperatures fall and our homes grow colder.

This is roughly a week later than normal, due to this autumn’s milder temperatures, but millions are leaving it even longer than that to save cash.

Turning down the heating and putting on an extra jumper may seem a sound money saving move but don’t take a good idea too far.

Last winter, burst water pipe claims soared by a staggering 75 percent last winter as 13 million households refused to putting their heating on in a desperate bid to save money.

When Arctic weather swept the UK in December it triggered a record number of claims and cost households a fortune.

Average repair bills rose by almost £4,000 to a brutal £12,791, according to insurer Zurich, which compiled the figures. 

It warns of even more burst pipes this year as households battle to cut energy bills, which remain historically high despite recent drops.

If you don’t turn on the heating it means there is less hot water running through plumbing, which greatly increases the chance of your pipes freezing when cold weather strikes.

Ice cold water sitting in the pipes can expand and cause cracks, causing a fortune if they leak or burst and flood your home.

Zurich’s regional major loss manager Paul Redington said while high energy bills understandably tempt many to delay turning the heating on, it could prove a false economy.

“As temperatures begin to drop, the risk of frozen water leading to burst and damaged pipes rises. Much of this can be attributed to households trying to save energy. 

“They should be aware that escape of water could lead to thousands of pounds worth of damage, and even the misery of potentially being out of your home at Christmas,” he said.

As well as the cost of repairing the pipes, you also have to pay for damage to fixtures and fittings in your home.

“In the worst cases, a burst pipe often forces people into alternative accommodation, while their property is dried and repaired,” Redington said.

He encouraged homeowners to set their heating to a minimum 10 degrees at all times and check pipes in the loft are lagged. “Insulate external taps or pipes that feed combi-boilers to protect from frost.”

Pipe lagging and tank jackets are available in most DIY stores, just make sure to check the pipe and tank measurements first. 

Opening the hatch to your loft during icy weather allows warm air from the house to rise and reach pipes in these spaces, which could help prevent them from freezing

Redington said know where your stopcock is and how to turn it off. Test it a couple of times a year, too, to make sure all is well. “Check for leaks in high-risk areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and boiler rooms at least once a year.”

If leaving your home unoccupied for an extended period, say, over Christmas or New Year, check your insurance policy will still cover any issues, Redington added. “You may need to drain all pipes, tanks and heating systems and disconnect water supplies.”

Always use an approved contractor to fit plumbing and related appliances. and maintain all heating appliances in line with manufacturers’ guidance. “Consider an annual inspection and maintenance contract, and keep insurance details and emergency call-out numbers to hand.”

The ideal time to have your boiler serviced is in the summer or early autumn, but now is better than never doing it at all. 

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