by Neil Brandwood

CASH-CONSCIOUS residents in the South West are being warned of the risks of burst water pipes if they turn off their heating this winter.

Faced with the continuing cost-of-living crisis, many households are looking to cut back on their energy bills, but doing so may lead to a greater cost burden, an insurance expert has warned.

“Less hot water running through plumbing when temperatures are at their lowest in the coming weeks means pipes could freeze, expand and burst,” said William McCarter, of insurance broker Lycetts.

“The resultant damage to ceilings, walls, carpets or soft furnishings could result in significant claims on building and contents policies to cover expensive repairs.

“This, in turn, is likely to mean a costly hike in future premiums.

“Most insurers will ask for a five-year claim history before providing a new quote and will take this into account when providing terms, so the financial impact on homeowners could be felt for many years to come.”

In addition to the insurance considerations, McCarter has pointed out that burst pipes may also mean significant disruption to day-to-day living. A large loss of water in a loft space, for example, could cause ceilings to collapse, which in some cases may make it necessary to find temporary, alternative accommodation until the property is made safe.

“It is important that homeowners consider all risk factors before turning off their heating.

“A short-term money-saving measure could have a long-term financial impact.

“Prevention is better than cure and the need to make claims could be avoided by ensuring that some simple checks and steps are taken.”


McCarter’s suggestions include keeping thermostats switched on, insulating pipes, repairing any leaking taps, knowing the location of stopcocks in case water supplies need to be turned off in an emergency, and regular boiler checks.

“Water tanks are often located in lofts, and to prevent them, and pipes, from freezing, loft hatches could be opened to allow warm air to circulate.

“It is important to check insurance policy details and, if in any doubt, take advice from an insurance specialist – it could prevent having to spend more at a time when people can ill afford to.”