Heating controls - five money-saving tips
- How to use your heating controls effectively
- Tips to reduce your energy bills
- Simple changes you can make to save cash
- Advice on whether you need new heating controls
Using your heating controls efficiently is a simple way to cut your energy use - follow these top tips to get the best from your heating system without overheating your energy bills.
1. Update your boiler and heating controls
Out-of-date central heating and controls could mean you're wasting energy and money. But as the cost of a new boiler and its installation can typically cost up to around £5000, replacing your boiler is not always cost effective. Visit our page on boiler FAQs and boiler energy efficiency to work out if you should update yours.
Even if you decide not to update your boiler, you can replace your heating controls, especially if they are over 12 years old, as modern controls are a lot more accurate.
You could save £70 if you install a room thermostat and £30 if you fit a thermostat on your hot water tank, according to estimates from the Energy Saving Trust based on a three-bedroom semi-detached house.
Types of heating controls
The type of heating controls you need depends on the type of heating system you have - take a look at our guide to boiler and heating controls for more guidance - but these are the four general types:
- timer – turns your boiler on or off at set times
- room thermostat – measures how warm your room is and adjusts the boiler operation accordingly
- programmer – lets you set different times and temperatures for different days of the week
- thermostatic radiator valves (TVRs) – allow you to adjust the temperature of individual radiators and turn them off completely.
2. Get the best from your room thermostat
It may seem obvious, but turning down the heating in rooms, even by just 1°C, can reduce save you around £55 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Thermostat temperature tips
Set the room thermostat to a low temperature, say 18°C, and then turn it up by one degree each day, if necessary, until you find a temperature you're comfortable with. You won’t have to adjust if further - you can then leave it alone to do its job. Note that it is advisable for babies to sleep in a room of 18°C, and that the temperature shouldn't drop bellow 16°C for elderly people and those with impaired mobility.
Room thermostats need a free flow of air to sense the temperature accurately - they must not be covered by curtains or blocked by furniture. Nearby electric fires, televisions or lamps could also stop them from working properly.
One thing to note though is that many room thermostats are for one room only, so will turn your boiler off when the room it's sited in reaches the set temperature, therefore turning off the heat supplied to all other rooms at the same time.
If you have one of these heating controls, it should be installed in a room that you use all the time and want to be the warmest. The radiators in this room should be supplying maximum heat to the room, either by not fitting thermostatic radiator valves to them, or by opening the valves to their maximum setting.
3. Zone your heating
Instead of just having one room thermostat, you can have separate heating circuits each with their own room thermostat or programmer, allowing you to zone the temperatures in different areas in your house depending on where you spend most of your time.
Setting lower temperatures for parts of the house that you use infrequently, or only at certain times of the day, will save energy and money.
There are other things you can do to your rooms to save money - just visit our guide to saving money on heating costs.
4. Programme or time your heating
A timer allows you to set times for when your boiler can be turned off in a 24 hour period - for example during the day when you are at work - without having to do it manually yourself.
A programmer gives you even more options, allowing you to set times and temperatures throughout the week.
To make your timer setting most effective, take time to consider your lifestyle and factors such as:
- what time your family wakes up in the morning
- when everyone leaves the house for work or school
- whether anyone remains in the house during the day
- what time everyone returns to the house in the evening
- whether your home needs heating during the night when everyone is asleep
- how long it takes for your home to reach a comfortable temperature
- what time you need to use most hot water
- whether you have a different pattern to how you use your home at the weekend
- whether you are more active during the daytime and find lower room temperatures comfortable
If you are upgrading your programmer, look for one that lets you set different temperatures for each part of the day, and customise the pattern for each day of the week.
Also choose one that lets you over-ride your normal pattern, so you can easily switch your heating off if you decide to head out for the evening, or plan a few days away from home - this allows you to change your heating pattern without completely reprogramming the whole week.
5. Set your thermostatic radiator valves low (TVRs)
Like with your room thermostat, you should set the TVR in each room at a low level and gradually turn it up until it leaves the room at a comfortable temperature when your heating is on.
Turning a TRV to a higher setting will not make the room heat up any faster - that depends on the boiler size and setting, and the radiator size.
‘Radiators’ actually work by convection – cold air enters at the bottom, is drawn through the radiator and hot air leaves through the top. You can reduce your heating costs by ensuring each radiator in your home is able to circulate heat properly.
Blocking convection reduces the effectiveness of your heating, so take the following free steps to make them more effective:
- pull furniture away from radiators
- don't use cabinets to disguise your radiator
- don't cover your radiators with curtains
Find out more about the different types of home heating controls with our guide.