Residents across north Shropshire are being urged to have their heating systems checked of what is being predicted the coldest winter for five years.

The warning comes as an estimated eight million homes reached for the thermostat earlier than usual this year during the unseasonably cold summer months, putting extra strain on boilers.

In response, OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, has created a ‘winter ready’ guide for households in Shropshire to help them avoid problems during the cold weather and maximise their heating to save money on fuel bills.

The advice includes:

Have your boiler serviced by an OFTEC (for heating oil) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered technician. These professionals have been certified as fully competent and will check everything is working correctly and efficiently.

Check you have set the correct on and off time on your heating controls to ensure the system comes on when you need it to.

Adjust the thermostat on your radiators and turn them off in rooms you are not using.

Bleed your radiators to make sure they work as efficiently as possible.

For the 16,000 households in Shropshire on heating oil, top up your tank as soon as possible to avoid the last minute winter rush.

When purchasing oil, use a firm which is a member of FPS (Federation of Petroleum Suppliers).

If you have an older boiler, consider upgrading to a modern, condensing model which will reduce your fuel consumption - and carbon emissions - by up to 20%, helping you make significant cost savings.

Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, said: “With the cold weather already starting to bite, it’s important to have your heating system checked over before increased heavy use over the winter months, especially if it has not been serviced since last year.

“An OFTEC registered technician will be able to identify any potential problems which can usually be dealt with quickly and cheaply before they become more serious.

“With the Christmas season approaching, nobody wants to be left in a cold house with no hot water waiting for an expensive emergency call out.”

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