With the return of the ‘stay at home’ message this January, it’s likely we’ll all be using more energy at home than usual.
During the 2020 spring/summer lockdown, we were using as much as 30% extra electricity compared to the year before. With the current winter conditions, we’re probably going to need more heating this time around too.
Your heating routine is likely to change as you spend more time at home. It’s worth having a think about what we call your ‘heating regime’. This is the times you use your heating, how often you have it on for and what temperature you heat your home to.
Under more ‘normal’ circumstances, you may set your heating to come on once in the morning for an hour and then for a couple of hours in the evening. If you’re now spending more time at home you may require to have the heating on during the day as well.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have to spend a lot more money on heating your home. Changing how you use your heating controls could reduce your costs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, by using your heating controls correctly, you could save up to £75 a year on heating costs.
Using your heating controls efficiently
The majority of households have four different heating controls. They all compliment each other, and by using them altogether, you can effectively regulate your home’s temperature – saving energy and money while maintaining a comfortable level of warmth. Let’s take a look at each of them.
A room thermostat stops your home getting warmer than necessary. It will turn the heating on until it reaches the desired target temperature. Once your home reaches that temperature, it’ll turn the heating off until the temperature drops.
You should set your room thermostat for the lowest comfortable temperature. By reducing it by just 1 degree you can save around £60 a year on your heating costs.
We would recommend a comfortable temperature is between 18 and 21◦c. Remember, this is the temperature for the overall home. You may want to vary your heating slightly between rooms, that’s where our next heating control comes in handy!
Thermostatic radiator valve
Thermostatic radiator valves or TRVs for short, are probably our favourite and most under-appreciated heating control. It’s a common mistake to assume they control the temperature of the radiator (this job belongs to the boiler thermostat we’ll get onto shortly).
The TRVs job is to regulate the flow of water into the radiator, controlling the temperature of the room. They’re numbered to help you decide how warm you’d like your room to be.
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In rooms you use regularly, we recommend setting your TRVs to III. This will keep the room at around 20◦c. You can adjust them up or down slightly to find the most comfortable temperature for you. If you have rooms you don’t use regularly, turn your TRVs down to II.
When the room reaches the desired temperature, there is a small valve that closes to restrict the flow of new hot water into the radiator until the temperature drops low enough. The less new hot water being needed in the system means less gas being used which means you save money.
If you’d like to know more about TRVs, watch our video by Senior Energy Advisor, Darren.
Your programmer tells your heating when it is allowed to come on. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and designs and unfortunately some are much harder to use than others. Programmers work great if you want to set your heating for specific times, for example, when you get up in the morning or come home from work.
Only set the programmer to come on when you know the heating is going to be needed. Remember, you’re wasting money if you’re heating your home when it’s unoccupied.
Your boiler thermostat allows you to set the desired temperature of both your heating and hot water. There is usually a min and a max setting. For your heating, the higher you have the temperature, the more quickly your home will heat up, but it will cost you more. Most boilers have an eco-setting around 60◦c which we recommend using.
If you have a hot water tank, this may have a separate thermostat which should be set to no less than 60°c. In this case, you’ll want to have your boiler temperature slightly higher.
Keeping the heat in
Assuming you’ve set all your heating controls correctly, it won’t do much good unless you keep the heat in your home. It’s a good idea to keep internal doors between rooms closed and to close curtains when it reaches dusk. It’s also worth checking your insulation is up to standard too. If you have a loft, you should ensure you have at least 270mm depth of insulation to help keep the heat in.
If you’re not sure where to start, our ‘cheat sheet’ gives you a great starting point. Remember you may need to adjust your controls slightly in different rooms or based upon your routine at home.
Would you like some more advice on using your heating controls? Cosy Kingdom is a free and impartial energy advice service available to everyone living in Fife.
Our energy advisors can be contacted by: