Understanding your heating system can help save cash

A HOT topic – excuse the pun, as the temperature drops we are looking at how to save money on your heating bills.

When the temperature drops the first thing a lot of people do is go to the boiler and turn it up. So usually on the boiler, be it a digital display or knob to turn, there should be a way to control it on the front.

The problem with turning modern condensing boilers up is that once they are turned up they are not as efficient and therefore costs of use will increase. The cheapest way to run a modern boiler is always in condensing (economy) mode.

When it is colder outside, run the boiler for longer, do not increase boiler temperature. Economy mode gives a saving of around ten per cent over an old non-condensing boiler.

The only reasons to increase the boiler temperature are:

*Your radiators are too small for your rooms.

*Your boiler is small for your property – check with your plumber.

*The second Ice Age has arrived, or it is severely cold and your house just isn’t getting up to temperature – the last point may be a possibility sooner than we think.

Another easy way to save on heating bills is to turn down radiators in rooms that don’t need to be heated – on thermostatic valves, turn down to frost protection or to say setting one or two.

Most people just turn thermostatic up to full, or down to off: the numbers are there as a reference guide for the user to find and be able to repeat a setting that is comfortable, the lower the number the more the saving. So become familiar with your thermostatic valves and you can find savings.

As a guide, typically turning off a 2kw/2000watt radiator saves around 20p per hour. This doesn’t sound like much, but if the heating is on for six hours a day that’s a saving of about £30 a month on your gas bill.

If renovating an old property or just one room, bite the bullet and insulate the external walls or if you can’t then internally insulate. This will pay for itself over time in reduced heating bills. Insulation, especially on older properties, is going to be a key in finding value. When we provide our heat calculations we can reduce the heat required in a room by up to 30 per cent for up to regulation level insulation. This means a smaller radiator can be specified, so money can be saved on the radiator, and the heat when produced is not being lost due to cold walls, resulting in savings over the longer term.

One of the simplest and easiest ways to help retain heat is to keep internal doors closed. Radiators are sized for different rooms. Hallway and landing radiators are sized to get those areas to a lower temperature than the rooms in a house, so leaving internal doors open means your room radiators are trying to heat more space than they either need to, or may be able to. Keep doors shut and save money.

Zone your house: modern houses have separate heating controls for upstairs and downstairs, so this gives an indication of the general consensus on heating a home. The more we can split it up the more we can control, and the more control we have the more efficient we can be, and that in turn saves money.

In any property that has just one heating zone, it means when you turn the heating on all the radiators come on – you are essentially heating rooms that may not need heating at that time. Do bedrooms need heating through the day?

Zoning can be quite invasive due to changes required when installing valves, so best check with your heating engineer on how easy it might be in your property. Thankfully technology has now brought us Smart thermostatic radiator valves and these can usually be controlled by an app, so the heating system would come on but only use the heat in radiators that have valves open, using less energy and being more cost effective.

Radiators play a key part on your heating system and one that is under specified and won’t do the job of heating a room can bring misery as being cold is no fun.

When changing your radiators make sure you deal with experts and self-proclaimed radiator geeks, and get the right information.

*Joel Newiss is general manager at Feature Radiators, The Old Post Office, 134-140 Main St, Bingley BD16 2HL *featureradiators.co.uk

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