Unexpected energy cuts have become less frequent in recent years, but the Energy Networks Association has nonetheless warned customers to be prepared for outages caused by severe winter weather
On average, households are now experiencing power cuts less than once every two years, the trade body said. Gas supplies are even more reliable: households can expect their gas supply to be interrupted without advanced notice just once every 140 years.
The ENA attributed the decline in energy outages to network companies’ investment in infrastructure. £100 billion has been invested in improving the reliability of these networks since 1990.
However, outages do occur, and they’re often caused by severe weather.
David Smith, Chief Executive of the Energy Networks Association, said: “The networks constantly review the resilience of infrastructure and there are robust plans in place to deal with the damage caused by extreme weather.
“However, we want the public to know there are things they can do to ‘Be Winter Ready’ and ensure that those customers who do have a power cut or gas emergency know exactly who to call so that they can get reconnected quickly and be as fully prepared as possible.”
In the event of power cut, dial 105, and for a gas emergency, phone 0800 111999.
Customers should also consider signing up for their supplier’s and network operator’s Priority Services Register, which entitles them to priority support in the event of an emergency. This may include your local network operator providing alternative heating and cooking facilities in the event of an outage. Those on the register also receive advanced notice of planned power cuts.
You’re eligible to sign up for the Priority Services Register if you are of pensionable age, are disabled or chronically ill, have a long-term medical condition, have a hearing or visual impairment, are in a vulnerable situation, or live with a child under five. More than seven million households are currently signed up to Priority Services Register, but many who are eligible haven’t enrolled. For example, UK Power Networks found that just 36% of eligible customers in Aylesbury and 37% in Peterborough had signed up to the register.
Customers should also take other steps to protect themselves from outages and emergencies:
Keep your home prepared for a power cut by having a torch handy, stocked with fresh batteries and spares; have a battery-powered radio to keep up to date with the news; and maintain a landline phone—which don’t use electricity—you can use to make essential calls. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and if you do experience a power cut or gas emergency, check on your neighbours.
To prevent gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning, have your appliances and boiler serviced regularly by Gas Safe registered engineer.