It’s getting to that time of the year when we are dreaming about being able to turn the thermostat down, especially if you’ve been unpleasantly surprised by your winter heating bills so far. But despite the warmer months still being a way off, there are several steps you can take to get the most out of your heating, making it greener and more cost effective.
Look after your boiler
Boiler breakdowns are miserable at the best of times and can see you being without heating or hot water for days. This is inconvenient in the summer, but if this happens during a cold snap you might find yourself needing to bunk down with friends or family.
You can reduce the likelihood of this happening by taking good care of your boiler, just as you would your car. Although it might not seem like the most exciting thing to spend your money and time on, in the long-term it can save you unexpected expense and stress.
One of the most significant measures you can take is simply getting your boiler service regularly. According to research by Vaillant, a major boiler and heating system manufacturer, only three fifths of people had their boiler serviced in the last year, even though doing so can keep your boiler in tip-top condition and your warrantee active.
Heating system professionals also recommend that you lag your condensate pipe if it tends to freeze, and make sure that you perform a system flush to avoid a build-up of limescale and debris. These can help prevent two of the major causes of boiler breakdown.
Consider upgrading to a condensing boiler
Condensing boilers are much more efficient than older conventional boilers, to the extent that since 2005 all new gas or oil boilers must be of this type. Typical models turn 90% of fuel into heat, although some manufacturers claim that this rises as high as 98%.
In contrast, for conventional designs the fuel efficiency figure is only about 70 – 80%. So although replacing your boiler is a major expense, if you know that you will need to do this in the near future, choosing to do so now might actually save you money in the long run.
Make the most of heating controls
Modern thermostats and heating controls make it possible for you to be very specific about the heating levels in different parts of your home.
Using a modern programmer for your boiler means that you can pre-set heating levels for different times of day or parts of the week. So, for instance, you could choose to have your heating come on at 6am during the week, but if you know that you wake up later at the weekend, you could set it for 8am on Saturday and Sunday.
You can also use a room thermostat to avoid under- or over-heating your home. This works by monitoring the temperature in one room and adjusting your central heating according. So if you set your lounge as the main room with a maximum temperature of 19 ̊C, when that figure is reached in that room heating switches off throughout your house.
Over the course of a year, this means that your heating will be much more efficient, and it’s possible to upgrade to these new controls without replacing your entire boiler system.
Don’t block your radiators
One of the simplest ways to ensure that your heating system is working for you is to make sure that none of your radiators are blocked.
Commonly, this takes the form of sofas or storage units being placed in front of the radiator, or long curtains covering an under-window radiator. As radiators work by creating convection currents in a room, where hot air rises and cold air sinks, putting anything in front of the radiator impedes this flow so that you heating becomes less and less efficient.
Don’t let your heat escape
Now that your heating system is up to scratch, keep all that lovely heat inside by thoroughly insulating your home. According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), a quarter of a house’s heat can be lost through the roof, making your home colder and your heating bills higher as you turn up the thermostat to compensate.
The EST estimate that loft insulation can pay for itself in as little as two years, when you put 270mm of insulation in a previously uninsulated loft.
If your property is currently uninsulated, it can be worthwhile checking to see if you could get help paying for it. Although the free government backed CERT scheme ended in 2012, there’s a new Green Deal available, and those on who are vulnerable or are on a low income are eligible for the ECO scheme which provides affordable insulation.
By Elizabeth Grey
Edited by Helen Kinsella
Image sourced: Images of Money
Using one or more of these steps will help you to make your heating more efficient, reducing your carbon footprint and your heating bills.tagsboiler maintenanceefficiencygreen livingheating