Warm tidings - tips for a safe and warm festive break

OFTEC which represents the domestic oil heating industry has issued advice to householders on how to keep warm, save money, stay safe, and avoid home heating disasters over the festive period.

The trade organisation issued warm tidings in the form of tips to help householders enjoy the break and prevent the potential nightmare of frozen pipes and potentially costly boiler breakdowns.

OFTEC’s tips and preventative measures to help homeowners avoid being left out in the cold include:

·  Keep your heating on constant - during cold weather it is often more efficient to keep the heating on low constantly, rather than running it at full capacity at intervals throughout the day. This keeps the system at a constant warm temperature and prevents freezing.

·  If you are going away for the break - leave your heating on for at least an hour a day while you are away from home.

·  Close doors and curtains - the very simplest measures can lead to major energy savings so remember to close curtains and shut doors to keep heat in the rooms you use most. Where possible, ensure your radiators are not obstructed by curtains or furniture.

·  Insulate your pipes - to prevent a freeze-up, install lagging around your home heating and water pipes to insulate them. A professional can fit this for you or keen DIYers can purchase lagging from a DIY store.

·  Check your fuel supply - confirm also that you have oil in the tank as a number of call-outs over the festive season are due to the boiler running out of oil.

·  Watch out for the carbon monoxide - the risk applies whether your burn oil, coal, peat, wood or gas and the best prevention is to have appliances serviced regularly by a qualified technician. A secondary measure is to fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm which is sold in many retail outlets and DIY stores from €20.

·  Be on the look-out for changes to your boiler - a black smoke may indicate  a build-up of soot preventing the boiler from burning oil efficiently and yellow or brown staining around  the boiler or flue may indicate the presence of carbon monoxide from incomplete combustion and should be checked by an experienced technician.

·  Central heating controls and thermostat - ensure the central heating controller is switched on and the thermostat is in the correct position.

·   Do not attempt to fix or service the appliance yourself - modern boilers require a trained and professional technician to ensure your system is operating correctly, efficiently, and safely.

·   Keep the details of a plumbing and heating technician close to hand - a breakdown can be stressful enough without the hassle or lottery of finding a trusted tradesman in the directory.  For oil users, the use of a highly skilled OFTEC registered technician is strongly advised and can be found on www.oftec.org ·   Be savvy - grants of up to €560 are currently available in Ireland for those replacing an inefficient boiler for a more energy efficient condensing boiler. In the event of an older boiler breaking down, professionally registered technicians can guide householders through the process of applying for the grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI ).

·  Prevention - the overall advice from OFTEC is to have a qualified technician check and service your appliance before the cold weather sets in. A simple check over and service may prevent that disaster in the middle of the holiday season!

David Blevings, OFTEC Ireland manager, commented: “During the very severe weather over the festive period in 2010, frozen pipes, boiler, and central heating faults accounted for 62 per cent of insurance claims. We want householders and their families to enjoy their holidays and making sure your heating system has been serviced and checked means you can relax, and have a safe, warm, and well-deserved break.”


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