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Press release

Water UK launches campaign to get the UK winter ready

Public encouraged to protect their homes this winter as new research shows nearly a quarter take none of the recommended measures to prepare for colder weather

  • New research shows 33% of UK public wouldn’t be able to locate their stop tap in an emergency
  • 23% get their boiler serviced less than once a year
  • Nearly a quarter (22%) of the public don’t take any recommended measures to protect their pipes from colder weather

With winter arriving early this year in the form of Storms Arwen and Barra, industry body Water UK is encouraging customers to take some immediate steps, such as lagging pipes and checking central heating, to ensure they stay safe and warm over the winter months.

The advice comes as new research commissioned by Water UK reveals that nearly a quarter (22%) of the UK public do nothing to prepare for winter, leaving themselves at risk of damage to pipes and potential internal flooding or water damage.

The survey also reveals that a third of the UK public (33%) wouldn’t know where to locate their stop tap in an emergency, leaving them exposed to freezing and bursting pipes (freeze-thaw) as the temperature drops. A stop tap (or stopcock) is a small tap on your water pipe which turns off the water supply to your property.

Freeze-thaw is the phenomenon which results in water pipes bursting as periods of very cold weather are followed by a rapid period of warming. Pipe damage can be very disruptive and expensive to repair but taking simple measures such as lagging your pipes, servicing your boiler regularly and clearing your gutters can help avoid it. However, the polling also showed that more than half (53%) had not heard of freeze-thaw.

The polling also revealed:

  • 23% of respondents service their boiler less than the recommended once a year
  • 40% of respondents didn’t know that the homeowner is responsible for maintaining the water pipes in in the home
  • When asked which of the following people do to prepare their homes for winter: 55% have the boiler serviced, 41% bleed the radiator, 33% clean the gutters and 18% lag the pipes.

Peter Jenkins, Director of Campaigns at Water UK said:

We all want to be warm and cosy over the winter months and not have to worry about our pipes freezing or our central heating packing up.

“Simple things like bleeding your radiator, getting your boiler serviced and lagging your pipes can help you and your family enjoy a trouble-free season.

 “We know things are still difficult for many people and there’s lots of help available from your water company. If you are worried about paying your bills or in need of advice, then get in touch with your water company.”

As part of the campaign, Water UK is offering hints and tips to help customers prepare their homes against the effects of winter with an animation highlighting top tips to protect your home against freeze-thaw, and who to call in case of emergency. You can watch the animation here.

Shorter versions of the animation to help customers get #WinterReady will be also posted across social media channels during the winter months.

Top tips to ensure a trouble-free season, include:

  1. Check your pipes – insulate your pipes with lagging inside and outside your home and fix any drips. This will prevent your pipes from freezing.
  2. Central heating – get your boiler serviced before the cold weather arrives and be sure to bleed your radiators.
  3. Check your loft – check that insulation is in good condition and there are no leaks in your water tank. Consider lagging pipes in your loft too
  4. Outside your home – clear your gutters and drains to prevent blockages, and check for leaks
  5. Find your stop tap – You may need to turn off your water quickly in an emergency

Water UK also want to reassure customers concerned about their water bill over the winter that there is support available for those who need it. Water companies have a range of advice and tips available for customers on their website and Water UK has regularly updated guidance on its website. Anyone unsure who their water company is can use the Water UK postcode finder to find their supplier.

Will Lang, Head of Civil Contingencies at the Met Office said:

“Whatever the outlook for winter each year, there can always be periods of warmer or colder weather as well as wetter and drier weather. This variability makes it really important to take some simple steps to prepare our homes and businesses for whatever the weather may bring so we don’t get caught out,” 

“We welcome this campaign from Water UK, reinforcing the winter advice available as part of WeatherReady from the Met Office. It provides practical steps people can take to be prepared for severe weather and how to make the most of winter conditions safely.”

More information is available on the Water UK website here and from individual water companies’ websites.

[1] All statistics, from an online survey of 2,121 UK adults carried out by ComRes Savanta on behalf of Water UK between 25 – 29 November 2021, weighted to be nationally representative.