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27 Mar 2020

Central heating wars: have you switched off yours yet?

We explore how to use your central heating effectively as the nation is told to stay indoors to avoid the threat of coronavirus

Many of us are now working from home and relying on our own central heating during the day, rather than that of our office or workplace, which is likely to result in higher energy bills.

So while some of the household might be happy to stick on a jumper to save money and stay warm, others will undoubtedly be reaching straight for the thermostat.

We wonder if any of you have taken the step to completely switch off your heating?

If not, we've put together a few expert tips to help you minimise your heating bills over the next few weeks and months.

If your boiler might need replacing in the near future, check out our boiler reviews to see the most reliable brands.

How to heat your home efficiently

Is it cheaper to leave on your heating all day on a low setting?

According to the experts at the Energy Saving Trust, it's a complete myth that it's cheaper to leave on the heating in your home all day at a low temperature.

It's much more efficient to only heat your home when you need it. So if you have your heating on all day and night, stop doing this as it will cost you more money.

There's not really any need to have the heating on at night when you're tucked up under a duvet.

Consider just having the heating on at key times of day. Perhaps to take the edge off of getting out of bed in the morning, and a couple of hours in the middle of the day, then in the evening to make sure your house doesn't get really cold.

Use our guide to boiler controls and thermostats for tips on how to programme your boiler, and save a few pounds along the way.

What temperature should you set the thermostat to?

This very much comes down to personal preference. But it should go without saying that the lower the temperature on your thermostat, the less your heating bill will be.

The Energy Saving Trust says that every degree you turn down the thermostat will save you £80 on your annual bill.

Consider the placement of your thermostat

If you have a portable or wireless thermostat, make sure it's in the room that you're in most often.

If your thermostat is in a drafty hall, or in a back bedroom that you're rarely in, then your boiler will be working too hard to bring that space up to temperature and overheating the rest of the house as a result.

So for example, by the time your drafty hall is up to 20°C, your living room could be a sweltering 26°C.

Shut the windows

If your heating is still on, your windows shouldn't be open - it's just a waste of energy.

Balance your radiators

A poorly balanced heating system can add lots of money to your energy bills as your boiler and pump work too hard and too long to bring your house up to temperature.

A surefire sign that your system is unbalanced is if you have some radiators that heat up quickly and others that take an age to get hot.

Our guide to how to balance your radiators explains how you can tell if your system is unbalanced and shows you how a heating engineer will balance the system for you.

cat in front of electric heater

Use an electric space heater

If it's just you at home, or there are generally a couple of you huddled into one room, there's no point heating the whole property.

Instead, you might want to consider heating the room you're using with an electric space heater, which is likely to be more cost effective. Of course, that depends on the efficiency of the heater itself and how much you pay for your units of electricity.

See our reviews of electric heaters that have gone through Which? lab testing to see the most efficient models.

For more ways to save money on your bills, including investing in LED lightbulbs and smart thermostats, see our 10 ways to save on energy advice guide.