Combatting the cost of living: How to maximise your boiler’s efficiency
In the current cost of living crisis, every penny counts. In this blog, Viessmann explains how maximising your boiler’s efficiency can save you serious money.
The increased cost of living has been front and centre of the news agenda in the UK for months now. However, with winter just around the corner and increased energy costs playing a large role in the crisis, only now have many households started to feel the pinch.
There are lots of ways to save energy around the home - from ensuring your house is properly insulated to making sure you only heat the rooms you are actually using - all of which can help save you money. However, the truth is, if your boiler is not running efficiently, all of your other energy saving efforts will be undermined and you will likely be paying more than you should for your heating bills.
With this in mind, one of the most effective ways you can combat the cost of living in your household is to ensure your boiler is running as efficiently as possible. In this guide, we will look at how boiler efficiency is measured and where to find your machine’s rating. This guide will then outline some of the best ways you can maximise your boiler’s efficiency, saving you money in the process.
How efficient is my boiler?
Before you look to maximise your boiler's efficiency, it’s important to first know how efficient your boiler is meant to be. When it comes to boilers, the term ‘energy efficiency’ refers to the percentage of energy a boiler converts into useful heating. For context, a boiler installed in the last 5-10 years will likely run at 90%+. On the other hand, older boilers, and in particular those over 15 years old, may run at 70% efficiency or below. Naturally, the more efficient you boiler this, the more effective it is at heating your home, and the cheaper it is to run.
To find out how efficient your boiler has the capability to be, the first thing you should do is check its outer casing. If your boiler is 10 years old or younger, the chances are you will see a sticker that displays the boiler’s efficiency rating. This will be in the form of a letter, ranging from A to G. A-grade boilers operate at 90% efficiency or higher, while G-grade boilers run at only 70% efficiency or below. If you cannot find a sticker, look for your boiler’s model name and number number. This will be printed on the outer casing of the machine, and can also be found in any manuals or documentation you have relating to the boiler. Once you have found this, simply search for the model in the PCDB database. This handy tool will tell you your boiler’s efficiency rating.
How to increase boiler efficiency
When your boiler is not operating as efficiently as it should be, your home is not heated effectively, and your energy bills can increase. However, there are ways of ensuring your boiler is running at full efficiency. During the current cost of living crisis where every penny counts, these simple checks can save you some serious cash.
Keep up-to-date with boiler servicing
Carried out by Gas Safe registered heating engineers, boiler services are in-depth inspections that check your machine is operating safely and efficiently. Services should be conducted each year. This is because, if your technician finds something that isn’t working as it should, they can fix it before it becomes a bigger issue. When it comes to efficiency this is key. This is because, if a system fault is leading to decreased efficiency, your home will not be heated as effectively as possible and your bills may be higher than needed. However, when an efficiency issue is spotted early during a servicing, the problem can be nipped in the bud, saving you money.
Bleed your radiators
When your radiators need bleeding, it takes longer to heat your home. This is because trapped air in your central heating system makes it harder for your radiators to heat up fully. Over time, this can really start contributing to your energy bills. To check whether or not this is impacting your boiler’s efficiency, simply turn on your heating and assess if radiators are either taking longer than normal to heat up or are displaying random cold spots.
Removing trapped air by bleeding your radiators is easy and can be done without the help of a trained technician. Check out our guide on bleeding radiators for all you need to know.
Check boiler pressure
One of the most common causes of boiler inefficiency is a drop in pressure. When your boiler is not pressurised correctly, your entire central heating system does not operate properly. This means your radiators may not heat up as they should, meaning it takes long to heat your home. As with all boiler inefficiencies, over a period of time, this can hit you in the pocket when it comes to energy bills.
As a rule, your boiler pressure gauge should read around 1.5 bar. If it is lower than this, you need to repressurise your boiler. Remember - if you have recently bled your radiators, it is likely you will notice a drop in pressure. This is because the trapped air that you have released needs to be replaced with water in order to build-up the pressure in your system.
Invest in pipe insulation
Just as wall, floor and loft insulation helps to make your home more energy efficient, by insulating piping, you can make your boiler more efficient. Foam tubing is a cheap yet efficient way to do this. By covering all pipes that lead from your boiler, you can minimise any heat lost through them. This means your boiler doesn't have to work quite as hard to heat your home, as retained heat can be better utilised for central heating and producing hot water. Once again, as this makes your heating system more efficient, over time, it will save you money on your energy bills.
If needed, consider an upgrade
Less of a way to maximise the efficiency of your current boiler and more of a way to make your entire central heating system more efficient, if your boiler is 10+ years old, has a low-efficiency rating, and/or is constantly breaking down, it could simply be time to invest in a new boiler.
While initial purchase and installation costs may put you off, the efficiency improvements a new boiler can bring may make an upgrade worthwhile in the long run. After all, the lower your boiler’s efficiency rating is, the larger savings you could make with an A-rated replacement.