Everyone wants their heating to keep their homes warm and comfortable. Unfortunately, current prices means that this is easier said than done. However it is your central heating system that is likely to be the largest contributor to your household bills, so there is much potential for a lot of savings.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, heating and hot water accounts for more than half of a household’s energy bills.
Follow our list of five tips for getting the best from your heating system, and find simple ways to cut your energy use and energy bills.
It’s a truism that old boilers can cost more to run than new ones. But since buying a new boiler and having it installed can cost up to £6,000, it’s not always cost-effective to replace it.
One solution, explains this guide from Warmable, is that if replacing your boiler is looking too pricey, is to replace your heating controls instead. This is because newer heating controls tend to be far more accurate.
The heating controls that you will need will depend on the specific type of heating system you have. But generally, the types available are:
Different heating controls will allow for different levels of specificity when you are programming your boiler. A time will allow you to schedule when the boiler turns on and off over a 24-hour period, while a programmer allows you to set different times and temperatures throughout the week.
If you are looking to buy a new programmer, find one that allows you to set different temperatures for each party of the day. Then customize this pattern for every day of the week. When you are setting up a heating schedule, ensure that the boiler is switched off at times when you could be at home, but don’t need the heating on (e.g. during the night).
Another tip is to switch the heating off 20 minutes before you usually leave the house, as there will be residual heat in the home.
Additionally, try to choose a programmer that lets you override the normal pattern, so it is easy to switch off your heating if you go out for the evening or are away from the home for a while. This will allow you to change the heating pattern without having to totally reprogramme the whole week.
You could invest in a smart thermostat. This not only allows you to programme your heating times, but also lets you override the timer and turn the heating off from your phone wherever you are. So if you are going to return home later than you originally thought, you won’t waste money on energy by warming up an empty house.
It is only necessary to have your boiler on its highest setting during the coldest days of the year. In any other circumstance, your boiler is needlessly heating up water to a high temperature and thus wasting energy.
If you are regularly putting your boiler on its highest setting, it may also mean that your condensing boiler doesn’t condense. All modern boilers (whether combi, system, or heat-only) are condensing boilers.
Condensing boilers are at least 10% more efficient than older boilers, so will save you a substantial amount on your heating bills. You can check if you have a condensing boiler by looking to see if your boiler has a condensation drain pipe in addition to the flue gas pipe.
If you do have a condensing boiler, the easiest way to ensure that your boiler is condensing is to not set the flow temperature of the boiler too high. The flow temperature is the temperature of the water sent to your radiators.
A flow temperature of around 60-65°C will allow the boiler to run more efficiently while making sure that it condenses. This is because the water will return to the boiler at 55°C or lower, which will cause condensation to form.
You may save as much as 8%-13-% on your heating bill by reducing the temperature of the water circulating around your radiators. However this does depend on other factors such as what your boiler was previously set to, as well as whether you decide to keep your home cooler than previously.
If you have a dirty, or poorly balanced system, this will also impact the return temperature of the water to the boiler, and therefore its ability to condense.
Ensuring that your system water (water that lives in your pipes and radiators) is clean and sludge-free will mean that you have a more efficient cleaning system. Doing so will also improve the ongoing life of your boiler and central heating system.
If you have cold spots at the bottom of your radiators, or if some of your radiators take a long time to heat up in comparison to others, then you may have an overly sludgy system. A heavily sludged heating system can increase your bills by as much as 25%.
Your radiator system may need to be flushed. This can be done through a gravity flush, power flush, or chemical flush.
Even if you do have clean system water, you may have a poorly balanced heating system. This will result in you spending far more money heating your home than necessary.
For example, in an unbalanced system, you could set the thermostat to 20°C. The upstairs may reach 23°C while downstairs will remain cold. If you then turn your thermostat up so that the downstairs is at a comfortable temperature, the upstairs will become overheated. The result of this would be a thermostat set at too high a temperature, which will lead to higher energy bills. Increasing the temperature by a single degree will increase your annual heating bill by around 10%, according to the Energy Saving Trust. So it pays to keep your thermostat as low as possible, while keeping your home comfortable to live in.
If you decide to have a new boiler installed, your system will need to be re-balanced. After it is installed, you should ensure that the heating engineer provides proof that you have a balanced system before you pay for the installation.