Your heating is one of the biggest energy consumers in your home. Keeping your family warm and comfortable through the colder winter months can be very costly, especially if you do not use your energy wisely. Even if you have the most efficient gas central heating system installed, the amount of energy you use will depend on several factors, many of which you can control. Read on to learn how to economically heat your home to save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
When it comes to heating a home economically, there are two things to consider - whether you mean economically for your wallet or for the environment.
Heating a home in an economical way for the environment means that the system should be efficient and run in a cleaner way. In this case, it’s likely that a an air source or ground source heat pump would be the answer, as these appliances use natural heat from the air or ground that can be used to provide warmth in your home. While they do require some electricity, it’s thought that they’re better for the planet and more efficient than gas boilers, particularly when the system makes use of solar panels too.
When you’re heating a home economically for you, it usually means that you’re trying to save money on your heating. This comes hand in hand with having an efficient appliance, as the more efficient it is, the less energy it will use and therefore you’re both doing your bit for the environment while also reducing your energy bills. A newer boiler that is 90 per cent efficient or more will use less energy than one that is 70 per cent efficient, for example. But, even if you don’t have the most eco-friendly heating system, there are some things that you can do yourself to heat your home more economically.
Just like the members of your family, every room in your house is unique. The living room, kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms and dining room all have very different purposes, and therefore, it makes sense that they would be set to different temperatures to reflect this. You may want a bathroom to be slightly warmer, for example, so that excess water can dry out more quickly, preventing mould. A bedroom is supposed to be naturally slightly cooler than the rest of your home so you can get a better night’s sleep. Not only will varying temperatures optimise the efficiency of your heating, it will also enhance the comfort of your family, helping everybody to feel at their best while awake and get quality rest during the night.
The optimum temperature for the living room, which is typically where the family spends the most time together, is between 20-21 ℃. This will allow you to keep your heating costs for the room at a moderate level without compromising on comfort. It is an easy-to-maintain temperature and will make sure the room doesn’t lose its heat too quickly. The bathroom will also be most comfortable at this temperature, and it is the recommended temperature for bedrooms of babies and smaller children.
Kitchens, in comparison, should be seen in a different light. It is important to bear in mind that the kitchen has a variety of heat sources, particularly ovens and hobs. These will give off heat and contribute to the overall temperature, meaning that you can reduce the heating by a few degrees without any noticeable difference. Consequently, a temperature of 18-19 ℃ should be quite sufficient. Bedrooms are also ideally set to 18-19 ℃. Not only will the slightly cooler temperature improve the quality of sleep, but most upstairs bedrooms generally benefit from insulated ceilings, which help to retain heat.
It also pays to consider that you do not need to maintain a constant temperature all the time - especially when a room is not in use. While it is advisable not to turn the heating off during the day while the family is at work and school, setting temperatures much lower can offer significant savings. A reduction of just 1 ℃ can result in savings of up to 6 per cent.
Opening windows during winter is important to improve the air quality in your home, but also to prevent mould. However, doing so will allow precious heat to escape that your boiler or heat pump has worked so hard to create. Even if you’ve turned your radiators off, leaving windows open for more than about 10 minutes a day can increase your energy consumption. As the cold air comes in, the inside temperature is lowered, meaning that your radiators have to work much harder to restore the temperature when you turn them back on, consuming far more energy than necessary.
It is much better to limit the time your windows are open to a maximum 10 minutes a day in typical autumn and spring temperatures, and four to six minutes during winter when temperatures are much lower.
Large items of furniture, such as sofas and beds, are often placed too close to radiators. This may be due to space limitations or simply because of the desired layout of the room. However, to work effectively, your radiators need free circulation of air. This will ensure that the room temperature is even and that your radiators operate at maximum efficiency. Ideally, you should ensure that there is always a gap of at least 20 cm or more between the radiator and the item of furniture.
Take care to ensure your curtains aren’t costing you too. Curtains that hang over radiators, even partially covering them, greatly reduce efficiency and therefore will cause you to spend more than you need to on your heating in the long term. If you are unable to make sure that curtains can be pulled back completely clear of radiators, consider having them shortened.
Did you know that a gathering of dust on your radiators may be costing you extra on your fuel bills due to its insulating effect? We typically tend to focus our cleaning efforts on items that catch the attention such as carpets, televisions, cabinets and tables. We are much less likely to clean our radiators, especially when they go unused for several months over summer. By taking the time to give your radiators a good wipe down with a damp cloth on a regular basis, you could see a notable improvement in their efficiency.
Depending on the type of radiators you have, you may find a specially designed radiator brush is helpful to get into harder to reach areas. It is recommended to avoid using a vacuum cleaner as you may inadvertently cause damage to the radiator.
As well as making your heating system more economical, clean radiators will also help to maintain a healthier environment, particularly for allergy sufferers.
One of the best ways to ensure that your heating system constantly operates at maximum efficiency is to have your boiler serviced by a manufacturer-approved professional every year. Although this is usually a requirement to ensure your warranty remains valid and is recommended for your family’s safety, you may not be aware that it can help to ensure your running costs stay as low as possible.
During the service, the engineer will be able to clean components, replace parts that are worn and advise you on the optimum operating settings for your home. All of this can help to keep your heating system as efficient and economical as possible, resulting in visible savings on your energy bills. Your engineer can also advise you on new technologies such as smart controls that may be available to help make your home even more energy efficient.