Managing energy costs is tricky right now - to say the least - and it's just not possible to make big bill savings. But taking care of how you use your heating, and keeping your boiler and heating system in good working order, may help reduce the sting of higher energy costs.
In normal times, we'd recommend switching to a cheaper energy deal. But these aren't normal times, and decent energy deals are in short supply. So we're all looking for ways to reduce our energy use and get our bills as low as possible.
Heating makes up a big proportion of most homes' energy bills. So we've got six tips to help ensure your heating system is working as efficiently as possible to keep energy use and costs to a minimum.
The NHS recommends you heat your home to at least 18 degrees, and not below 16 degrees for elderly people and those with impaired mobility.
But with the average UK thermostat set to 20°C, there is head room to reduce your thermostat's set temperature, and reduce your energy use, especially if you've had it set a bit higher over the last couple of months.
Some February days can still be pretty nippy, but on milder days nudging your thermostat down will reduce your energy use.
The Energy Saving Trust says that every degree you increase your temperature by could up your heating bill by 10%. So turning it down just by one degree could make for some significant savings.
Try turning your boiler down a degree at a time and reassessing, rather than dropping the temperature dramatically all at once, to avoid making your home uncomfortably cold.
Low boiler pressure can cause your radiators to not warm up efficiently, leading to inefficient heating and higher bills.
This check is quick to carry out. Just locate the gauge on the front of your boiler. The indicator should normally be between 1.0 and 2.0 bar (often highlighted green) but check the recommended pressure in the manufacturer's instructions.
If the gauge is below 1.0 bar (often coloured red) then the pressure needs increasing. If your boiler instructions say so, you can do this yourself by using the boiler's filling loop, follow the manuals instructions.
If you're unsure, contact your boiler manufacturer's technical department or a qualified heating engineer. After this, you should find your radiators start heating up quicker.
If you find, however, that the pressure drops again soon after you've increased it, it most likely means there's a leak. In this case you should contact a qualified heating engineer, such as those vetted by to diagnose and fix the issue.
The whole body of a radiator should get hot. If it doesn't, then you won't be heating your home efficiently. What that results in is needing to have your heating on for longer, more energy use, and higher heating bills.
Where a radiator is cold, it is often a sign of an underlying issue:
You can bleed radiators yourself, so this is a quick fix that won't cost you anything upfront.
If your system needs cleaning or balancing it is best to call out an engineer to carry this out. While this will cost some money upfront, in most cases, the boiler can then be run at a lower temperature, increasing efficiency and saving you money in the long run.
Despite their name, radiators actually work by convection. Cold air surrounding and between gaps in the radiator is heated. This warm air rises up and spreads around the room, and cool air then moves into take its place. This cycle of moving air is called a convection current.
If the radiators are blocked it means air cannot easily be circulated around the room, causing you to have to have the heating on for longer than needed.
You can reduce your heating costs by ensuring each radiator in your home is able to circulate heat properly. For example, moving furniture away, not using radiator cabinets to disguise them, and making sure they're not covered by curtains.
It's a simple tip that may be obvious to some, but can also be a quick-win that's easily overlooked.
While many people may already have a thermostat, timer or programmer (or some combination of the three), if they're a bit outdated, then upgrading your technology could give you more control over when heating is on and off, and can dramatically reduce your energy use if you often forget to turn it off!
A room thermostat measures the temperature of the room that it is placed in, and turns the boiler on and off to maintain its set temperature. It is very useful to make sure you don't overheat your home, and waste energy.
If used with a timer or programmer, a thermostat can also prevent your heating coming on unnecessarily. For example, let's say you've set your thermostat to 19 degrees Celsius, and your timer is set for the heating to come on between 8am and 10am. But it's an unseasonably balmy morning, and the temperature in your home is already 20 degrees.
Without a thermostat the heating would come on for two hours and heat your home when it was already warm enough.
But the thermostat metaphorically tells the boiler 'it is already above 19 degrees, so don't heat the home', leaving your home at a comfortable temperature and avoiding having your heating on for no reason.
A timer turns your boiler or hot water on or off at set times. For example, you can set it to turn your heating off when you're out at work, and back on for when you get home.
Lets you set different times and temperatures for your heating and hot water for different days of the week.
For example, you might want your heating to be hotter and on for longer at the weekend than during the week. A programmer lets you do this. They are typically more complex to set up than a simple thermostat or timer, but give you more versatility in how you control your heating.
While a traditional thermostat or timer may be perfectly adequate, if you have a busy and irregular lifestyle you may want to consider a smart thermostat.
These work like their traditional counterparts, but you can control and set them on the go from your smartphone, and offer smart energy-saving features to reduce you energy use even further.
Meanwhile smart radiator valves give you nuanced control over specific radiators - so you can set the radiator in your living room to turn on for when you come home, but the one in your bedroom for later in the evening, for example.
Smart heating devices cost more upfront though, so make sure you'll use the benefits a smart device offers before investing.
If you want to keep a new pair of shoes looking their best, you clean them. If the house is too cluttered to move around it efficiently, you tidy it up.
The same principle goes for heating your home, if you want it to perform it's best, the boiler needs to be kept in top working order.
A one-off boiler service should cost around £86 on average, according to our Trusted Traders, but having one also helps reduce the odds of a part breaking unexpectedly and lumping you with a large repair cost and potentially no heating.
Our 2021 boiler survey of 8,001 boiler owners found the odds of your boiler breaking in its first six years double when it isn't serviced annually.
Boilers involve complex parts, gas, hot water and electricity.
While we've outlined some steps you can take yourself to reduce energy use, you should always call out a Gas Safe registered heating engineer for:
When it comes to boilers, it isn't always clear what tenants are responsible for.
It is always best to check your own tenancy agreement, but, in general, tenants are expected to use their boiler and heating in the right way, and report any issues or faults to their landlord.
So make sure the heating is set to an appropriate temperature, check the system pressure and bleed the radiators if needed.
However, your landlord is responsible for:
So, if you discover an issue with your boiler that would require calling out an engineer, contact your landlord straight away.