Is hot running water a necessity?

Situation is - an elderly couple (him early 80's, her mid 70's) live in a clean, tidy and well-maintaned bungalow.
The house does not have central heating, and is heated by storage heaters and a gas fire and is generally a comfortable temperature (there is no heating in the bathroom).
There are no money worries (the couple puts £3-400 a month into savings, and have over £50k in the bank), plus they eat out 3 or 4 times a week (pensioner lunches and other low cost meals).
There is no shower. The couple has a weekly bath night and aside from this, any personal washing is done at the bathroom sink. 
The water is heated via immersion heater.
I admit that I find the man very hard work, but I'm trying be neutral here, hence the question....
The lady told me yesterday that for the last 25 years the husband has only allowed the water to be heated once a week, for bath night. All other times they boil a kettle for personal washing, washing up etc. This is because the husband wants to save money. The lady wants to heat water more often, but just shrugs and says "his house, his rules".
I've explained that  - now, more than ever, they need to be able to wash their hands easily, and also that it is not safe for elderly people to be carrying hot kettles through the house. She agrees, but says that the husband won't change :/
I think that hot running water has to be provided at work / in cafes etc, but is there any requirements to have it on tap at home? If there was some definition of 'necessity' this might help the lady convince the husband ...



  • NBLondonNBLondon Forumite
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    Off the top of my head - there would probably be an obligation if it was social housing or a private landlord (local legislation may vary).  In this case - there is hot running water.  The issue is that one partner chooses not to use it as much as is required.  Possibly a long-held belief that it's expensive to run the immersion.  If that's been the case for 25 years then it will be very difficult to dislodge.   Could be that you are touching on the area of a controlling relationship.
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  • Sounds like this lady might want to consider becoming one of the "silver splitters".  As @NBLondon says there is hot running water available it's just that the husband chooses not to use it and I don't think there's an obligation for owner occupiers to have hot running water.  After 25 years he's not going to change his mind no matter what evidence you try to present him and as for the "my house my rules," after 25 years of marriage....urghhh.
  • It does sound like the man is an eccentric control freak.  'Bath Night' stopped being a thing for most of us around 1980.
  • kat74kat74 Forumite
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    You're probably right... too late to change :/.
    I see quite a few little things that chip away at her and her confidence, which I find frustrating to watch. But, she says she's happy - and I guess it's not my relationship
  • oystercatcheroystercatcher Forumite
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    This was typical life in the '50's and many older couples were still doing this in the'80's . I think it's rarer now but obviously still happening, if they are healthy and happy there's not much you can do. Washing hands in cold water is still OK, just not as comfortable as hot water. The temparature needed to kill bugs would burn skin so it's really just a comfort thing. It's sad for the lady in question but unfortunately that generation were brought up to just accept what they were given and be grateful and it's not always easy to change that mindset. Yes, it's a controlling relationship but would she manage alone without support and be happier , it's a huge change to make in later life.
  • hazyjohazyjo Forumite
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    Just sounds very old fashioned and something they have obviously got used to. Our home wasn't far off in the 1970s. We'd sit round the 3 bar heater for warmth and baths certainly weren't every night. Agree with the above - times changed for most of us.

    They can still wash their hands though - hot water will make no difference. Cold water and soap would be just as effective.
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  • pollypennypollypenny Forumite
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    The guy is stuck in the 50/60s!  I feel sorry for his wife, though. 'My house, my rules,' indeed!  🤬
    I'm used to washing in cold water as the pipes from the combie boiler to the en-suite mean hot water takes so long. If I've only got time for a quick wash, rather than a shower, it's cold. 
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  • MovingForwardsMovingForwards Forumite
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    It was always a 'thing' growing up that Sunday was bath day, even in my 40s I'm still struggling to get my head round being able to have a shower several times a day if I want.

    My ex had an immersion heater only for running hot water, until it packed in a few years after buying the house, he never sorted it out so it was a kettle to do washing up / having a wash (I'm disabled with mobility issues), with a shower.

    As it's their own home, there is nothing to say hot water must be on demand. 

    Even in a rental if the boiler packs up or the immersion breaks, it doesn't have to get fixed the same day, only within a reasonable time as the option is to boil a kettle and have a strip wash; as the many posts show on the renting board.

    Unfortunately, for the generation you are referring to it was man works, man provides for wife, wife stays home to look after the kids, have the house spotless and dinner on the table by the time man came in from work.

    You will not change a stubborn mind, she does not need to carry a kettle through to the bathroom, kitchen sinks can be used.
  • mamanmaman Forumite
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    I really don't think you're going to change their relationship now so probably best to just concentrate on a solution to the hand washing that makes her feel happier.
    It's unlikely that they'll be going out much so assuming they've not contracted the virus already (from before restaurants etc closed down)  then he's unlikely to pass it to her or vice versa.
    Back in the day, many people didn't just not have running hot water, they didn't have bathrooms either. Generally, daily washing was done in the kitchen/scullery and then the tin bath filled once a week on bath night. The purpose of all the handwashing is so that if you've touched a surface with the virus on then you won't transfer it your mouth etc when continually touching your face. So, in the unlikely event that s/he's coughing the virus onto surfaces in their home I suggest she does all she can to keep surfaces clean and washes her hands in the kitchen sink using some hot water from the kettle. 
  • calleywcalleyw Forumite
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    Don't get it.  Wont pay for water to be heated but go out 3-4 times a week to eat, when it would be cheaper to eat at home. Nope no way I would live like that.  My partner is the one who goes put on the heating  I am like no I am good as I dress up like the Michelin man :D
    Calley x
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