Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service wants to help you to stay safe from fire at home, at a time when the cost of living is rising.
If you're thinking about doing things differently at home to bring down the price of your bills, it's important to remember to do so safely. This can include thinking about the hazards that come with changing your usual routine.
Due to the cost of living rise, it is now more important than ever to:
- fit a working smoke alarm on every floor of your home, so you’re alerted quickly if there is a fire.
- find out if you are eligible for a Home Fire Safety Assessment.
- follow our advice below.
Help in Greater Manchester
Whether it's getting your finances into shape, managing your energy usage, boosting your health and wellbeing or finding details about your local foodbank and warm places to go, local councils and organisations across Greater Manchester and beyond are here to give a helping hand.
Energy saving tips
Tips that might help reduce your costs:
Try setting yourself a challenge to delay when you start regularly using your central heating. Most people have a set time of year when they feel it's acceptable to start reaching for the thermostat, but why not consider delaying that by a month or so and opting to layer up your clothing/blankets instead to help save money?
When you need to use your central heating more regularly, check if your system has a timer function. The timer can be used to switch your heating on and off so that you use it less. For example, turning your heating on just for the coldest parts of the day, such as a few hours in the evening and in the morning when you’re waking up means you won’t forget to turn it off and it will help to save you money.
If you’re able to switch individual radiators off in your home, save money by turning off those in spaces that aren’t often used, only keeping radiators switched on in the rooms you use most.
Heat your home safely
Follow our fire safety advice, especially if you are thinking of changing the way you heat your home.
If you've had to change the way you use your home to save on energy, you should review your escape routes in case of a fire. Make sure you know the quickest route out and ensure it is clear of clutter.
- Make sure your heater is in good working order before use.
- Ensure you get your heater checked - especially if it has not been used for several years - by the Gas Safe Register (for gas appliances), the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS) (for solid fuel appliances), the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) (for oil appliances), or a qualified electrician for electric heaters.
Ensure your heater is not subject to a product alert or recall by checking the Office for Product Safety and Standards website
- Electric heaters should be plugged into a wall socket - do not use an extension lead, as they can be overloaded and cause fires.
- Avoid buying second-hand heaters but if you need to buy one check it closely for damage - if in doubt, avoid it. Make sure it is made by a manufacturer you recognise and if the seller cannot provide the instruction manual look online and download a copy. This will ensure you know how to use the heater correctly and can reduce the risk of fire.
- Ensure you burn the correct fuel in open fires and wood burning stoves. Burning other materials can cause toxic fumes in your home and can increase the risk of chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you are choosing to reopen and use an old fireplace, ensure you get a professional to carry out the work. The chimney is likely to be unsafe and could lead to a fire and/or carbon monoxide leaking into your home or even your neighbour’s home.
Outdoor heaters must not be used indoors. They can produce a lot of heat which would be a fire risk in the confined space of a house, and they also produce carbon monoxide which can be fatal.
- Do not use tea light candles with terracotta pots to create a heater. You may have seen this dangerous trend, which has gone viral on social media.
- These hacks may look like a good way to save money on heating bills, but they are dangerous and have already caused house fires.
- Candles, including tea lights, should only be used for their intended purpose and not for heating.
- Do not follow online videos about DIY heating. Advice and support about managing your energy bills is available on the Helping Hand website.
Ensure flammable items such as furniture and drying clothes are placed well away from heaters and fires.
Ensure you have a gas safety check each year for your boiler or appliances.
- If you are a home owner and have not has a gas safety check in the last 12 months, it’s worth checking to see if you are eligible to join your energy provider’s Priority Services Register. Most will offer a free annual gas check. As eligibility varies it’s worth contacting your energy provider or Gas Distribution Network to find out if your household or someone you know could benefit.
- If you are a tenant, your landlord should arrange an annual gas safety check for any fixed appliances. If your landlord is failing to provide this, report them to your local authority.
Priority Services Register
The Priority Services Register is a free support service to help people in vulnerable situations. Energy suppliers and network operators offer it. Each keeps their own register. You need to contact your energy supplier or network operator to get on it.
Visit the Ofgem website for more information.
Find out more about Electricity North West's Extra Care Register (the new name for their Priority Services Register)
Fit and test your alarms
Ensure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home and a heat alarm in your kitchen. We also recommend a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms where you have a fixed combustion appliance (such as a gas fire, gas boiler, log burner or open fireplace).
If you are spending the majority of your time in fewer rooms, to save on heating your whole home, also make sure you have a working smoke alarm in the rooms you use most.
- If you are a tenant, your landlord (unless they are excluded) must ensure that at least one smoke alarm is provided on each storey of your home, where there is a room used as living accommodation.
- Your landlord must also ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used as living accommodation which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers).
- They must also ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once informed and found that they are faulty.
If your landlord is failing to provide this, report them to your local authority.
Find out more about the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms (Amendment) Regulations 2022, which came into force on 1st October 2022.
Electrical fire safety
If you are trying to reduce spending on electricity, make sure any changes you make don’t impact on your fire safety.
If you are not on a time of use tariff then do not run appliances unattended at night, as the electricity will not be cheaper for you.
If you are on a time of use tariff, avoid charging items overnight or leaving appliances (such as washing machines, tumble dryers or dishwashers) running unattended overnight. This is because if a fire started you would have less time to react and escape.
If you have to run your appliances overnight:
- Don’t overload your plug sockets as this can lead to overheating
- Clean all filters regularly - as per the manufacturer’s instructions
- Check the cables and plugs of your appliances for any signs of wear and tear
- Use the Electrical Safety First’s online product checker to see if any of your appliances have been recalled
- If you think there might be a problem with your appliance, unplug it and contact the retailer, manufacturer or a qualified repair technician as appropriate
Follow our general electrical fire safety advice to prevent an electrical fire in your home.
Smoking fire safety
Smoking is the main cause of fire deaths in the home. Quitting smoking or having a smokefree home are the best ways to reduce a smoking related fire at home.
For advice and support visit Greater Manchester Make Smoking History.
If you’re not ready to quit, don’t be tempted to save money by buying counterfeit cigarettes. They don’t comply with fire safety regulations. So, whilst no cigarette is completely fire-safe, regulated products have thin bands of less-porous cigarette paper along the length of the cigarette, which help to extinguish it if the smoker doesn’t continue to draw on the cigarette.
Find out about Greater Manchester's Illegal Tobacco - Keep It Out campaign
Also follow our general smoking and fire safety advice.
Cooking fire safety
You might be changing the way you cook to save money, such as using an air fryer or slow cooker instead of your oven.
Most fires in the home start when people are cooking. Take a look at our cooking and kitchen fire safety advice, to help you stay safe from fire.
Candle fire safety
There are safer alternatives to candles, such as using LED (Light-Emitting Diode) candles or wind-up torches, when moving around your home.
If you are thinking of using candles for light to save on electricity costs, follow our candle safety advice.
Never bypass electric and gas meters
Energy theft is not a victimless crime. The potential dangers of meter tampering include sparks, fires, damage to property, explosions and even deaths.
To learn how to spot the signs and to report suspected meter tampering visit Stay Energy Safe.