Every year, homeowners are reminded to service their heating systems, although sometimes this is put off to prioritise other household expenses. Keeping on top of annual heating and hot water system servicing is in both customers’ and engineers’ best interests, with significant savings to be made against a backdrop of inflationary pressures.

As we approach winter, it is crucial that heating engineers start communicating to customers the need to get their systems in shape for the coming colder weather. Advocating for regular servicing and explaining the potential resulting benefits and savings is key to helping homeowners understand the importance of going through that process each year. 

The appliance checklist

When homeowners think of servicing, the majority may tend to instinctively think of boiler servicing. While boilers are high on the list of priorities for heating system servicing, other household appliances – whether they use electricity or gas – including heat pumps, hot water storage, and gas fires, should all be checked and maintained. 

Gas Safety Week, happening between 11 and 17 September this year, is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the gas household appliances that have been overlooked on the list of items to service. 

On a callout, engineers have an opportunity to ask the homeowner about other appliances that may need servicing ahead of the winter months. Separate callouts can be booked in to inspect these appliances, ensuring efficiency and safety are upheld.

Homeowners should have a good understanding of which appliances in their home require regular servicing from a trained professional. However, if for any reason the homeowner isn’t aware, it is the duty of industry professionals to alert them to appliances that need an annual service. If a tenant rents their home and is unsure whether the existing appliances have been serviced, advise them to request a copy of the landlord’s current Gas Safety Record. 

For products such as heat pumps where electrical safety is upheld with correct servicing, it may not be as easy for homeowners to determine faults or issues. It is therefore important to encourage those customers to understand the importance of the annual service to ensure both safety and system efficiency. 

Including servicing of the hot water storage system, together with the necessary checks on the outdoor unit, can prevent breakdowns and inconvenience for the household. One key area often forgotten to check during servicing is the insulation fitted to external pipework that is connected to the heat pump and/or boiler condensate pipes.

Out in the cold

With the winter months approaching and the energy market remaining volatile, experiencing heating and hot water supply issues could be more costly than ever. Heating systems in the home go through a period of dormancy over the summer months and are then expected to run at full operational capacity over the colder months. Potential issues arising from such changes can be avoided with annual servicing from a trained professional who can also advise on energy saving measures. 

When cold weather strikes, heating or hot water failure becomes really serious for homeowners, yet, with many feeling the effects of the cost of living crisis, a distress boiler replacement may also prove too much of a cost. Heating engineers should take the opportunity to encourage homeowners – especially those with older systems – to plan for their replacement ahead of time, which may well be a heat pump or hybrid system. Retaining hot water storage may also be a benefit in the future. To make recommendations on how customers can make their domestic heating and hot water systems greener, installers can explore different approaches in the HHIC’s guide, Heating up to Net Zero.

Systems, such as heat pumps, require both annual and routine maintenance to ensure they don’t break down. A full annual service is recommended ahead of the winter period. Importantly, it will also maintain the manufacturer’s warranty.

Other appliances essential to everyday life, such as gas fires in the home, can also experience faults, yet many forget the importance of servicing them as well as the boiler. When we tend to spend most of our time in the home during winter months, leaving the servicing of these essential appliances until they’re needed most is impractical. 

Engineers can advise homeowners about the preventative steps they can take themselves during the year to maximise boiler efficiency using the HHIC’s The Consumer Guide to Gas Boiler Servicing guidelines.

Service now, heat later
Engineers have dual responsibilities. Customers require both industry expertise and practical advice when looking for ways to maximise their home’s energy efficiency. When carrying out annual services, installers have the opportunity to bring the customer’s attention to other appliances that require annual check-ups, challenging the preconception that only boilers are on the priority list. 

As winter approaches, engineers will be bracing themselves for an increase in callouts and potential breakdowns. This means now is the perfect time to share industry best practice and educate consumers on how they can get their appliances in best shape before the cold season.

With energy bills on the rise and household incomes being stretched further than ever, installers can make heating less daunting to homeowners, showcasing professional excellence in-line with industry standards.