4 free tips for happy (and efficient) heating

With the nights drawing in, the temperature dropping and the news full of energy price hikes, it is a good time to check your heating system and make sure it is running as happy and efficiently as possible.  An efficient heating system not only reduces waste but also will save you money, and energy.

Sorry, too Xmasy?

So without further ado, here are 4 free and quick jobs for a happy and efficient heating system.

1. Bleed your radiators

Release all that trapped air.

A common problem with radiators is air getting trapped inside. The trapped air stops the hot water circulating through the whole radiator and reduces the amount of heat that can be transferred to the room. This means that it will take longer for the room to heat up and your boiler will run for longer.

Luckily this is easy to check. If your radiator is colder at the top than the bottom, you have trapped air. Now to release this air is a quick and simple task.

  1. First switch off the heating, this will stop more air being drawn into the system and also stop the chance of you getting scalded by hot water.
  2. Locate the bleed valve on the radiator, this varies on different radiators but should be in a corner near the top.
  3. Get a couple of rags and then using a radiator key open the value. 
  4. If there is air trapped you will hear a hissing sound, wait until this stops and a small amount of water leaks out (catch the water in the rags).
  5. Close the valve and put the heating back on.

Now the radiator should be hot all over and the room will be nice and toasty.

For more information check out this handy video from Homeserve.


2. Review your heating timer and/or programmer

Now is that daylight savings time?

A timer is generally a simple on/off style clock that will switch your heating on and off at pre-set times. A programmer is generally built into your room thermostat and allows you to change the temperature at different times. A programmer generally gives you better control and can have different setting for weekends.

Now that Autumn is here in earnest it is a good time to review your heating schedule. To make sure your timer is most effective, think about your lifestyle and what might have changed since last year. Think about:

  • what time the family wakes up in the morning?
  • when everyone leaves the house for work or school?
  • does anyone remains in the house during the day?
  • what time does the first person return home in the evening?
  • do you really need to heat the house at night while you are all asleep?
  • how long does it usually take for your home to reach a comfortable temperature?
  • do you have a different pattern at weekends?

Then set the timer to be on at the times that are needed. It is a myth that it is more efficient to leave the heating on low all day. The most efficient is to use it only when it is needed. If your house takes a while to heat up then set the timer to switch on a little before you get up in the morning and return in the evening.


3. Check thermostatic radiator values (TRV)

It is not down there.

If you have thermostatic radiator values (TRV), check that they are set to comfortable temperature. Just like a room thermostat, or climate control in a car, you just set the temperature you want the room to be and the TRV will maintain that temperature. Turning it up to full won't heat the room up any quicker.

In general most TRVs have numbers from 1-5 rather than temperatures in Celsius. But a good rule of thumb is that 3 on the dial is usually around 17-19 degrees. A good way to check you have set it to the correct temperature is to place a standard room thermometer in the room and slowly crank up the TRV until the thermometer reads a temperature you find comfortable.

In general 18-21 degrees is comfortable in main living spaces and 15-17 degrees for bedrooms. But if you have babies, very small children or older people in your home, you should check what temperature is best for them. If you really want to be on a green drive and want to save even more energy, only switch on your bedroom radiators a couple of hours before you turn in for the night. Heating an empty room all evening is just wasting energy.

4. Review your thermostat temperature

Nice and toasty.

Much like with the radiator values, it is a good time to check your main thermostat if you have one. As we always hear turning down the temperature by 1 degree will save around £55 a year, but with the new price increase this will be even more. Try setting the temperature at 18 degrees and turning up one degree a day, if necessary, until you get to a temperature you are comfortable with. Don't forget that the temperature on the dial is not necessarily the temperature you feel. For more check out our previous post on temperature perception.

While you are about also check that your thermostat is in the best location with a free flow of air. Ideally not on an external wall, not near a heat source like a radiator, TV or lamp, and is not covered by a curtain or blocked by furniture.


5. Get your boiler serviced

Wrench or a spanner? Get in a professional.

OK I had said 4 tips and this this is not a job you can do yourself, but it is very important to service your boiler annually. Not only for efficiency but also for safety. A simple problem like a stuck valve or clogged pipe can drastically effect the efficiency of your boiler. It is always better to get it checked before it could do more damage and leave you without heating on the coldest of nights.  Show your boiler some love and give it an early Xmas present.

For more energy saving tips and tricks check out our 8 energy saving tips that cost nothing.