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30% take time off to deal with winter emergencies

A new survey by British Gas has revealed that 30% of Britain’s have had to take time off sick, use holiday time, or have had to turn up to work late due to an  a home energy emergency such as a broken gas boiler or burst pipes.

It is estimated that Britain’s take up to an average of 12 working days off to manage winter repairs to their gas heating system over a lifetime; 10% of those surveyed also stated they were concerned taking time off to deal with such problems could lead to them losing their job, missing out on a promotion or stop them from getting a pay rise.

Moreover, the survey discovered it was residents in London that were more likely to take time off to deal with an emergency, with 44% stating  they had to take time off to cope with an unexpected emergency at home.

The cost of emergencies

In addition, electrical faults are another common reason for taking time off work with 21% of people forced to stay at home to deal with the problem, and it is estimated it costs £512 million a year in repairs.

The survey also estimates UK workers can lose anything up to £100 in lost income and face average bills of £542 a time to repair winter damage.

Commenting on the survey, Matthew Bateman, managing director at British Gas residential services, said:

 “The results of the research highlight that winter home emergencies can take a toll on people in terms of time and money, and worrying about how it impacts time away from their job. Every winter we increase the number of staff in our call centre teams so we have the resources ready to help customers who may be calling us with problems”.

Prevent emergencies

In order to help prevent household emergencies, British Gas advise householders to arrange regular checks of their boilers and bleeding the radiators. They also suggest insulating the gas pipes during the colder months and insulating the hot water tank.

In addition, Chris Brain, a British Gas engineer from Canterbury, states:

“This winter, frozen condensate pipes have been a big problem for customers with condensing boilers in colder areas of the country. Frozen pipes can result in damage to the boiler and even flooding, so people should ensure pipes on the outside of their home are wrapped with lagging, at the very least”.

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Ofgem call for more competition in connections market

A new report from Ofgem has called for reforms in the electricity connections market to help reduce delays for customers that find it difficult to get connected to the electricity grid.

Ofgem has carried out a six-month review to investigate the energy connections markets to examine just how competitive it currently is, and to understand the barriers that are preventing better competition.

In the report, Ofgem has detailed the changes that all local distribution network companies must carry out within the next six months in order to adequately improve competitiveness.

Strong competition in connections market

The review by Ofgem  showed that competition in the electricity connections market was growing strongly, however, there are areas of competition that have been slow to gather speed. Ofgem asserts that stronger competition would lead to lower prices, better services for customers and better innovations.

Reforms

As things currently stand, the network company is the only provider   for many parts of the connections process. However, under the new reforms, independent companies would be allowed to step in to help decide connection points and speed up the process. Ofgem says that these measures would “level the playing field by reducing their reliance on the local electricity network companies”.

Commenting on the proposed changes, Maxine Frerk, Ofgem’s senior partner, distribution, said: 

“We are requiring electricity network companies to work quickly to resolve the issues identified in the connections market, to reduce the hassle of getting connected to the grid and help lower costs for customers.

“We are determined to ensure this part of the energy market works in customers’ interest and will use the full range of our powers to do so.” 

Possible Breach

During its review, Ofgem also found that one energy company could be in breach of the current competition laws. The Competition and Markets Authority have been advised of this possible breach and an investigation is to be launched as to whether the energy company acted in a way that put its competitors at a disadvantage in the energy connections market.

Consultation Process

Following the review, people will now be invited to take part in a consultation process so they can give their opinions regarding the proposed reforms of the energy connections market.

The consultation will come to an end on 18, March, 2015 and the new regulations are likely to come into force at the end of September.

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