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Three quarters of UK homes are powered by gas, yet despite this, it is very easy to take gas safety for granted. Just as people only tend to think about their water supply if it fails, or they find a leak, consumers do not think about how their gas is powering their warm showers, cookers or fires. Unfortunately, the consequences of a gas leak or carbon monoxide poisoning can be much more devastating than a water leak.
To help keep homes and businesses safe we’ve been operating the Gas Safe Register on behalf of the HSE since 2009. This has become the single trusted place where consumers and businesses can find qualified engineers who are registered to work safely and legally on boilers, cookers, fires and all other gas appliances. As part of our role in registering and assessing engineers, we are also committed to improving public safety by educating the public about gas safety and how to report any concerns.
Changing public behaviours towards gas safety
In January last year, we led a campaign to increase awareness of the Gas Safe Register and particularly the importance of gas appliance safety checks. We conducted research which found that 32% of UK homeowners have not had an annual service and 29% didn’t have a CO alarm. We also identified that three quarters of UK homeowners are perturbed by ‘niggles’ that they had not got round to fixing, which ended up costing them more money in the long run than an early fix or maintenance would have. We calculated the costliest ‘niggles’ if left ignored, including leaky pipes, rattling boilers and lazy yellow flames hobs, cost homeowners £1,876 on average.
In our campaign we focused on the early indicators that there could be a potential problem with a gas appliance such as:
- a slowly growing crack in the ceiling.
- an error message on the boiler.
- condensation on windows that won’t disappear.
We teamed up with TV property expert Martin Roberts with the Head of Which? Trusted Traders,
And Renovation content creator Nadine Bacchus and GSR’s Gas Services Director to help people understand the risks of ignoring these signs. We also brought a fresh, creative approach with imagery that showed messages from home gas appliances that were trying to get their owners attention.
The campaign resulted in a huge spike in spontaneous awareness of the Gas Safe Register and visits to the Gas Safe Register website accelerated by 21% in the first week. There was also a 7% increase in people using the online engineer checking service.
Our campaign helped prevent people losing money and putting themselves at risk by making gas safety much less easy to ignore, at a time when macro factors such as the cost of living crisis and legacy of the pandemic threatened to reduce safety behaviours.
The campaign has been shortlisted at the PRMoment 2023 awards for non for profit campaign of the year and we find out if we have won in Spring 2023.
- Use a competent legally registered engineer to install, maintain or repair your appliances: It is illegal for an unregistered person to carry out work on any domestic gas appliance. You can check this by visiting the Gas Safe Register or calling 0800 408 5500.
- Ensure that your gas pipework, appliances and flues are regularly maintained: Book an annual inspection of your appliances to keep you safe.
- Check that all rooms with gas appliances have adequate ventilation: Don't block air inlets to prevent draughts, and don't obstruct flues and chimneys.
- Always check ID: All gas engineers who are registered with the Gas Safe Register carry a Gas Safe ID card, which shows the type of work they are qualified to do and whether their qualifications are up to date.
- If you suspect a leak: Turn off the supply and immediately call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999 for natural gas. For liquefied petroleum gas call your supplier.
Since 2009 we’ve developed the Gas Safe Register brand and increased the number of registered engineers to over 135,000 and the number of businesses to over 80,000.