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Households count £2bn (and rising) cost of cold spell

Damaged roofs have to date proven the most expensive to repair, with an estimated one million households facing an average bill of £546 to have their roof repaired after tiles were dislodged and cracked under the weight of snow. Almost one in ten (9%) people reported problems with their central heating and around one in 20 people were forced to call in experts to repair broken down boilers. The average cost for each repair was £294 and £350 respectively.

According to the report, an estimated 472,000 people — or 8% of households suffering damage — cannot afford to have the damage repaired. Just one in five (21%) of those with damage to their home resulting from the cold snap were covered by insurance.

Jon Florsheim, CEO of HomeServe Membership, said: "Having to cope without hot water and heating, or suffering a burst pipe or leaking roof, is distressing enough but for many people receiving the repair bill is the biggest upset.

"The recent cold snap will see many households wondering how they will pay for these unanticipated costs. On average we’ve attended 24,000 call outs every week during the cold spell and we’ve found around six in 10 people are taking out insurance so that they are covered the next time they face an emergency of this kind."

HomeServe’s own emergency call-outs peaked at 24,000 per week as the company battled to deal with emergencies ranging from burst pipes, broken-down gas and central heating systems and electrical failure attributable to the cold snap. This is more than double the number of calls for assistance received during an average week in winter.

HomeServe has issued the following advice to help householders keep their home running during cold weather:

1 Leave your central heating on low to maintain warm air circulation around the home;
2 Bleed your radiators to maximise their efficiency;
3 Ensure all pipes are fully lagged and insulated;
4 Use salt to unblock drains and pipes you suspect to be frozen;
5 Shut off water supply to all external garden taps and drain the pipes;
6 Keep the curtains closed to keep warm air escaping through windows;
7 Keep candles and torches at hand in case of power cuts caused by ice & snow;
8 Fit draft excluders on doors, windows & letter boxes.

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