It’s beginning to get colder and that means the time to whack on the heating again is looming. But how do you keep the bills under control and your system energy efficient?
1. Many older radiators can’t be adjusted, so they’re either on or off, which isn’t flexible or energy efficient. Fitting adjustable valves to the radiators, preferably thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs), can give you more control over the output of each radiator. “I would always recommend fitting TRVs, as they offer individual room comfort and save energy by not allowing rooms to overheat,” says Martyn Bridges of boiler manufacturer Worcester, Bosch Group (www.worcester-bosch.co.uk). “They regulate or cut off the flow of hot water to individual radiators, while the programmer and room thermostat control the heat to the whole house.” There are some rooms where TRVs aren’t usually fitted, including bathrooms, halls and landings - here try chrome Verona valves instead (£10.99 for an angled or straight pair, Screwfix). These valves look more attractive than most, are very reasonably priced and come with a three-year guarantee.
2. If your central heating system hasn’t been updated in years, replacing the radiators and pipework can be a good idea. Most modern radiators are more efficient than old ones, so you should be able to get smaller ones that produce more heat. “Replacing the pipework or radiators doesn’t happen that often, but is, perhaps, a sensible move if the system is 30 or 40 years old, depending on the condition of the pipework and radiators,” says Bridges.
3. It may sound obvious, but if you cover radiators with curtains or put furniture in front of them, you’ll block much of the heat and stop it circulating around the room. If you can’t move the furniture, consider moving or changing the radiators instead - vertical radiators are ideal when there’s little free wall space.
4. A simple, but effective way to get more out of your radiators is to fit radiator foil behind them - the foil reflects heat back into the room, so you benefit from more of it. This is an especially good idea on external walls. Also, central heating and hot water pipes that give off heat should be insulated to reduce the amount of heat loss, to save you money.
5. Did you know that turning down your room thermostat by just 1°C could reduce your heating bills by as much as 10%? Setting the thermostat to between 18°C and 21°C should ensure your home maintains a comfortable temperature, and your central heating system won’t have to work as hard to reach the desired temperature.