Here are our top tips for saving water and money this winter:
Insulate your pipes and water tank, especially in the loft. Pipes can be protected using ready-moulded lengths of insulation foam (known as lagging), taped together to close gaps. Elderly and vulnerable people may be eligible for grants to cover the cost of insulation and lagging. Replace wool matting which may have been wrapped around pipes – this type of insulation has not stood up to the test of recent winters. The sides and top of cold water tanks can be wrapped in an insulating jacket.
Fix those drips. This is a small thing to do, but stopping a regular drip could prevent a slow build up of water freezing and blocking your pipes.
Stop the draughts. Cold air from outside freeze pipes inside, so cover those gaps in doors and windows. Wind increases the risk of freezing pipes as it penetrates air bricks, roof spaces and outbuildings.
Check outdoor taps. These can be most vulnerable to the impact of cold weather. Don’t leave a hose attached to outside taps, and – if you have one – turn off the valve (which may be inside) and drain down the tap and pipes. This stops them becoming damaged and cold creeping up the pipe into your house.
If your water meter is fitted to the wall outside your house check that the pipes leading to and from it are adequately insulated and there are no gaps between them, that the meter cupboard is packed with insulation material, and that the door is firmly shut.
Use the frost setting on your central heating, or leave it on low when you are out or away. Insulation is priority number one, but low-level background heating can stop pipes freezing, particularly if the property is empty. Check with your energy company to ensure you are on the most appropriate tariff.
Let the warm air flow. Consider opening the loft door occasionally if it’s very cold and you have tanks or pipes in the loft. This allows warm air to circulate around them in your roof cavity. The insulation that keeps heat in your house stops warmth reaching tanks and pipes in your loft.
Don’t forget your outbuildings. Check the insulation and, if possible, isolate water supplies to outside toilets, detached garages and outbuildings if they are not in use. Consider turning off the valve for the supply to outbuildings, and draining down taps and pipes.
Check where your stop tap is, and check that it works. You’ll need to get to it quickly, and know you can turn it off, should the worst happen.
Don’t forget family, friends and neighbours. Help them out if they need a hand preparing – and perhaps agree to watch each other’s houses if you’re going to be away over winter.
Know which pipes are your responsibilities. If pipes are frozen that are your responsibility unfortunately we’re not able to do anything to help you restore your water supply. The below diagram explains: