4 tips to make sure your central heating is effective this winter
Winter means having to crank up the thermostat - but how can you make sure that your central heating system will work effectively and efficiently? In this article, we provide four useful tips and tricks to help you prepare your home for cold snaps.
How to keep central heating effective in the winter
1. Get your boiler serviced
Ideally, you should have your boiler serviced every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. This will help make sure that it maintains its performance and continues to work safely and effectively so that you can efficiently and economically heat your home without any problems.
It’s a good idea to time your boiler service so that it’s carried out before the colder weather sets in, such as during the summer months. Booking in your service in advance will make sure your boiler is ready for winter.
2. Bleed your radiators
Getting into the habit of bleeding your radiators can help ensure your central heating system continues to work as it should. Ideally, you should do this once a year. Failing to do so can mean air builds up in your radiators. This air essentially ends up replacing some of the hot water that would normally heat the radiators in order for them to warm your rooms sufficiently.
There are a few tell-tale signs that your radiators need bleeding. For example, you may notice that they take a while to heat up, and you might be wondering why your home feels cold. You may feel cold spots on the radiator itself, with them feeling cool at the top but warm towards the bottom. Another sign that your radiators need bleeding can include gurgling noises when you turn your heating on. This can be due to air moving around the system.
Bleeding your radiators is quick and easy. Simply turn off your heating and give your radiators time to cool down. Prepare the area by placing a towel underneath the radiator, and position a jug, or something similar, underneath the bleed valve - this can usually be found on the side of the radiator, at the top.
You’ll then need to insert a bleed key (a small, hexagonal shaped tool) into the valve. As you turn the key slowly anti-clockwise, you will hear a hissing sound as the air escapes. If water comes out of the valve, you should turn the key clockwise to close it. You should repeat these steps for every radiator in your home.
Once you’ve finished, you should turn your heating back on to check that all the radiators are working properly.
3. Insulate your home (and pipes)
Did you know insulation is one of the most effective and efficient ways you can save energy? Insulation keeps your property warm in the winter. There are a number of ways you can insulate your home, such as having wall insulation installed, replacing your doors and windows with double glazed designs and insulating your loft and floors.
It’s also a good idea to insulate your pipes, also known as lagging. You can do this by using foam tubes from your local DIY store - just make sure you buy the right size. By lagging your pipes, your boiler doesn’t need to work as hard to warm your home, meaning you can benefit from lower energy bills. Lagging can help reduce heat loss, keeping your water hotter for longer.
4. Set the right temperature
Making sure that your boiler is set to the right temperature can help keep your heating system working effectively and efficiently. It’s important to note that this temperature relates to the boiler itself - not your thermostat, which is responsible for determining the temperature of your rooms.
There's no hard and fast rule as to what temperature your boiler should be, but ideally it should be set somewhere between 60 and 70°C. If the temperature exceeds this range, it’s likely that the boiler will not be able to enter into condensing mode (when the boiler starts to recover its lost heat), meaning that it is unable to reach its optimum efficiency and perform as well as it should.
What temperature should my boiler be set at in winter?
It’s important that your home is kept warm and cosy during the winter months, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worse. During cold snaps, it’s a good idea to turn your boiler temperature up. To achieve a good balance between warmth and efficiency, setting your boiler to around 65°C should be just right, or you could choose to go a few degrees higher if you wish.