11 top tips for heating up your home – and how to save money
As the night’s are getting colder we all want to heat up our homes and stay warm without racking up large bills at the end of the month.
Here, the professionals offer their tips and advice on upgrading your boiler, improving your heating system or switching to renewable energy.
IMPROVING YOUR SYSTEM
1. Get the best from your heating system to avoid throwing away money on your fuel bills. For instance, being able to control the temperature of each radiator means you won’t be wasting money heating a room you don’t use. You can do this by fitting thermostatic radiator valves, commonly known as TRVs. This is a simple DIY job, or ask your plumber or British Gas to do this for you; prices start at about £35 per radiator to supply and install the valves.
2. Save water – and money, if you’re on a water meter – by installing a CombiSmart. This thermostatic valve holds back the water supplied from a combination boiler to your taps or shower until it’s heated to the right temperature, so there’s no more wasting cold water while you’re waiting for it to warm up.
3. You should also keep your heating system in tip-top condition so the performance isn’t compromised. Limescale can cause damage to some boilers, particularly combination boiler heat exchangers. Scale-reducers, such as Hydroflow HS38, can help reduce build-up. It’s worth being aware of the fact that some manufacturer warranties don’t cover damage caused by hard water unless an appropriate scale-reducing device has been installed.
4. The build-up of sludge and debris can damage pumps, motorised valves and other system components or simply stop the heating system from working as efficiently as possible. There are ways to flush this build-up out. For instance, a specialist company such as Powerflush will clean the system for you. Or you could install a magnetic system filter to remove any debris before problems start. Boiler manufacturers may recommend a magnetic filter, and for warranties of greater than five years some manufacturers insist that one is installed.
5. Stop condensate pipes from freezing with Trace Heater, which gently heats up the external condensate waste pipe when the outside temperature drops below 5°C. Prices start from £218. An alternative product, Condensulate Xtreme, works when temperatures are as low as -15°C for up to 36 hours. This costs £126 when installed with a boiler.
By Sheena Anker, engineer at British Gas
REPLACING A BOILER
6. The size of your home and household’s requirements will determine which boiler is best. New gas and oil boilers have to be condensing, meaning they extract and use the heat from exhaust gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. There are three main types: combination (or combi), regular and system boilers.
- A combi boiler heats water straight from the mains on demand so you only pay for what you use and have hot water delivered at mains pressure. They work well if you have one or two bathrooms and not enough space for a hot water cylinder. They’re fitted to the wall so are easy to hide out of the way; some will fit into a kitchen cupboard.
- Regular boilers heat water in a separate hot water cylinder, the size of which will determine how many bathrooms can be supplied. They take up more space than a combi or system boiler because they need an expansion cistern or tank in the loft. This fills the system and absorbs the expansion that takes place when the water is heated. They’re suitable for homes with more than two bathrooms or where hot water usage is high but the water pressure is low.
- A system boiler also heats stored water and allows several hot taps to be fed at the same time. It can be connected to a mains pressure hot water cylinder or a low-pressure, tank-fed cylinder. Most of the components are built in, making it more efficient and compact than a regular boiler. System and regular boilers are compatible with solar thermal water heating systems.
7. A 15-year-old boiler could be wasting up to 40p of every pound spent on heating and hot water bills. Upgrade to an ‘A’ rated condensing boiler and you could make your heating system up to 90 per cent efficient. The price of a new system will depend on the property size and work involved. Expect to pay about £2,500 to replace a gas-fired boiler or £3,500 for an oil-fired model.
By Martyn Bridges, director of marketing and technical support at Worcester, Bosch Group
8. Using renewable energy methods can save carbon and money. An air-source heat pump draws heat from the outside air, while a ground-source heat pump takes heat from the ground. Both are most efficient when used in well-insulated homes where the heating is run at a lower temperature. They’re great used with underfloor heating, for instance.
9. Biomass boilers burn wood pellets or chips and are larger than an equivalent gas or oil boiler so they require more space. You’ll also need somewhere to store the fuel and have access for it to be delivered. For that reason, biomass boilers are often used to heat rural homes where there’s a garage or outbuilding that can house them.
10. Solar thermal panels contribute to domestic hot water. They work best if you have a heating system with a separate hot water cylinder and are more cost-effective for a large family that uses lots of hot water. Switching to solar can save about £60 a year, compared with the cost of gas central heating.
11. The savings to be made by switching to renewables depend on your current set-up, the size of your property and your energy needs. For example, replacing an older gas boiler in a four-bedroom detached house with a ground-source heat pump could save you up to £660 a year. And you may be eligible for payments under the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). For more details, visit Ofgem. Check the Energy Saving Trust’s website for more advice.
By Brian Horne, home energy expert at Energy Savings Trust
Article by Jane Crittenden from www.housebeautiful.co.uk , click here to be redirected to the original article.