Do you leave the heating on low all day even when you’re out?
This is a hotly debated one. According to experts at the Energy Saving Trust, the idea it’s cheaper to leave the heating on low all day is a myth. They’re clear that having the heating on only when you need it is, in the long run, the best way to save energy, and therefore money. (A timer’s best as your thermostat turns your heating on and off to keep your home at the temperature you set.)
The key thing to understand here is that it’s all about the total amount of energy required to heat your home.
It’s a given that a certain amount of energy is constantly leaking out of your home (how much will depend on how good your insulation is). The Energy Saving Trust says if you’re keeping the heating on all day you’re losing energy all day, so it’s better to heat your home only when you need it.
They advocate keeping the heating on low all day, turning all radiator valves up to the max and the boiler down to the minimum, and say the problem with turning the heating on and off is that every time it’s turned off, condensation collects within the walls. This condensation can help conduct heat outside the home, they say – meaning you leak heat more quickly and so will use more energy as a result.
Do you keep the hot water boiler on all the time, or turn it on and off as needed?
If you have a gas, oil or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) central heating system, it will always be cheaper to set the system timer so the hot water comes on only when required.
However, if you use an electrical immersion heater it’s cheaper to heat your water during the night. Make sure your tank is well insulated to prevent it cooling during the day, though.
If you’re unsure what tariff you’re on, check your latest energy bill or ask your energy firm.
Do you use radiators or electric heaters?
Electric heaters are one of the most expensive forms of heating. The Energy Saving Trust say the cheapest way to heat your home is by using an efficient gas central heating system, with a full set of thermostatic radiator valves, a room thermostat and a timer.
Do you set thermostats on individual radiators, rather than using the main thermostat to control all of them?
It’s best to have as many controls as possible, so you’re in charge of the way you want your home to be heated. Installing thermostatic radiator valves and using them with your thermostat could save £75 per year according to the Energy Saving Trust.
The EST recommends using the thermostat to control the heat in your main living space and using thermostatic radiator valves to lower the heating in rooms you don’t use as often.
Do you control the heating using the thermostat or radiator valves?
Thermostats control your boiler, while radiator valves control the water flow through each individual radiator.
Your thermostat controls your home’s temperature, so once it hits the temperature you set on the thermostat, the boiler will go off until the room temperature drops again.
Radiator valves are an extra control which you can use to set the temperature of each individual room (other than where your main thermostat is). This means you can set some rooms to be cooler than others if you don’t use them very often (saving energy and money).
When the temperature in that room rises above what’s set on the radiator valve, it will stop water flowing through that particular radiator – the boiler will still be on to heat other rooms, but it will use less energy.