British Gas is predicting 125,000 boiler breakdowns in the run up to Christmas - how to keep yours working

British Gas predicts more than 120,000 boilers will break down in the run up to Christmas.

Two years ago, as the “Beast from the East” blanketed the country in snow, the British Gas helpline received an average of 104 calls every second from people needing help with their heating and hot water systems.

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Now engineers are urging people to make sure their homes are ready for winter, as Britain prepares for what forecasters predict could be the ‘coldest winter in 50 years’.

Hannah Hughes, a British Gas service and repair engineer said: “We know that having no heating or hot water during the colder months is people’s worst disaster in the home, and this week could be the first real test for many household heating systems.

“Now is the time to test your boiler and make a few small changes around the home to ensure your heating and hot water systems are ready to withstand the weather.”

Keeping your heating working

Bleeding your radiators: When you haven’t used your heating for a while, air can enter thesystem and form bubbles at the top of your radiators, which stops them from workingefficiently.

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Shutting out the cold: Not only do draughts let warm air out – they let cold air in, too. Draught excluders are available from most DIY stores, and they’re an easy and affordable way to draught-proof your home.

Furnishing for warmth: Think about where your heat sources are, and make sure yourradiators can do their job properly. Putting your sofa in front of a radiator may keep the bestspot in the house extra toasty, but it will absorb heat that could be warming the rest of theroom.

TLC for your boiler: People often don’t give much thought to their boiler until something goes wrong with it – but regular services can prevent problems from arising at all.

Wrapping your pipes up warm: Frozen pipes are one of the most commonproblems faced by residents in winter. Insulating materials are an easy, cost-effective solution, available from most DIY stores.

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Being energy smart: Unsurprisingly, winter is peak season for energy usage. If you have asmart meter installed, you can see how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence,helping you to identify where you can make savings.

Keeping everything ticking over: It’s a good idea to run your central heating for at least an hour a day during the colder months – even if you’re going away – to make sure it keeps running smoothly.

Getting the help you’re entitled to: It’s always worth finding out if you’re eligible for extraassistance with your energy bills. £140 winter rebates are available through the Warm Home Discount scheme, and face-to-face advice, financial support and grants are available from the British Gas Energy Trust (even if you’re not a British Gas customer).