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Protect your home for winter now with these handy heating tips

OFTEC represents the domestic oil heating industry. For registered plumbing and heating technicians go online at www.oftec.org

With wintry weather sweeping across Northern Ireland, forecasters are warning of icy roads, freezing temperatures and have issued a warning to motorists.

OFTEC, which represents the domestic oil heating industry, has provided a safety reminder to householders to ensure that their home heating systems are in top condition to battle the harsh winter weather.

The Met Office issued weather warnings for freezing temperatures across Northern Ireland, and  hazardous icy conditions that remain in Storm Caroline’s wake. 

With overnight temperatures expected to plummet to a frosty 1°C, OFTEC has released their household winter checklist on how to keep warm and safe during this chilly season. 

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

• If you are going away for a break – leave your heating on for at least an hour in the morning and an hour at night 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 DIY’ers can purchase lagging from a DIY store.

• Check your fuel supply – check you have enough oil in the tank and avoid the pitfalls of ordering oil at the last minute, when distribution may be affected by increased demand. 

• Watch out for the carbon monoxide – the risk applies whether your burn oil, coal, peat, wood or gas. The best prevention is to have appliances serviced annually by an OFTEC Registered Technician as recommended by the HSENI and the Consumer Council. A registered technician will use a flue gas analyser to check for CO spillage. The fitting of a carbon monoxide detector is a recommended second line of defence. 

• Don’t forget your oil tank and ensure it’s included in your service - It’s important to ensure all caps, lids and vents are secure to prevent damage from rainwater, melting snow and other contaminants.

• 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, choosing a highly skilled OFTEC registered technician is strongly advised and can be found on www.oftec.org. Do not attempt to fix or service the appliance yourself as modern boilers require a trained and professional technician to ensure your system is operating correctly, efficiently, and safely. 

• Prevention is always best – 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.

David Blevings, OFTEC Ireland manager explains: “It is vital that householders consciously take the necessary steps to avoid any heating problems. 

“Make sure your heating system has been checked prior to the winter period as Christmas is a busy time, and issues such as frozen pipes can add such unnecessary stress at any time of year. 

“We urge you to take the time to follow our simple guides to ensure you are taking care of both your property and loved ones during this festive period.”

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