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Installing and using heating controls can significantly reduce your heating bills by only heating your house and water to the temperatures you need – when you need it.  A room thermostat and seven thermostatic radiator valves cost around £350 and could save you £70 - £150 a year.

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Andy Smale, WinACC's Home Energy Advisor, recently visited Sarah Jones, a local social housing tenant, at the request of the landlord.  She lives in a house in the countryside which is not close to mains gas, and so she relies on expensive electric heating. 

Andy quickly realised that Sarah didn't know how to use her heating system.  The instructions for the system were poorly written, and the dial on the heating programmer was almost too stiff to turn, making adjustment very difficult.  This meant that, rather than being able to leave it to the programmer, Sarah Jones had to turn each radiator on and off manually every day.

Through a process of trial and error, Andy eventually worked out how the system was designed, and managed to get the programmer working.  He showed Sarah how to set up the system to control the heating upstairs and downstairs independently, so that the heating could come on to warm the house in time to get up in the morning and again in the evening.

Mrs Jones was also shown how to work the heating programmer so that the hot water cylinder was only heated twice a day, rather than wasting energy staying hot constantly.

Do you advise the public? Do people ask you for help? Would you like to know more about how to help people save energy, save money and stay warm?

We can help you.

  • casework advice - ring 01962 217844 or email Andy.Smale@winacc.org.uk and he will talk through the problem and suggest what you could do.
  • modular tailor-made training from 30 minutes to a full day for advice workers, outreach workers, home visitors, parish councillors, village agents, social workers  - anyone who reaches people who need help. Contact andy.smale@winacc.org.uk now to book your training or find out more. 

 

Why have controls?

Controlling your heating effectively is just as important as ensuring your house is well-insulated and draught-free. There are an increasing number of sophisticated control options available, however even basic thermostats and controllers do a good job if you learn how to use them properly.

How do they work?

Thermostats allow you to set a target temperature, usually for the house as a whole, but they can be fitted for each floor or even in individual rooms. More sophisticated thermostats can be programmed for different temperatures according to the time of day. Start by setting 18 degreee Centigrade unless you are old or unwell, then adjust to find the minimum temperature that you find comfortable. Each degree C difference could add or subtract 10% from your gas bill.

Programmers control the times when your heating, and possibly your hot water too, go on and off. Typically they allow you to create a number of on/off periods each day – usually one set for weekdays, and another for weekends. They should be set to turn on half an hour before you get up or return home and turn off half an hour before bedtime or leaving home.

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) act as thermostats for each radiator, allowing different temperatures to be set in each room using a dial on the TRV head. A setting of ‘1’ is suitable for unused rooms, ‘1’-‘2’ for bedrooms and kitchens, ‘2’-‘3’ for living rooms and ‘3’ for bathrooms.

Boiler controls allow you to control how hot your radiators get and sometimes your hot water temperature too. If you have a separate central heating dial then it can be turned down in milder weather to help the boiler run more efficiently.

Boiler thermostats control your hot water cylinder temperature – they should be set no higher than 60 degrees C, but always at least 5 degrees C lower than the hot water output temperature of your boiler (otherwise your boiler pump will never stop running).

Costs and savings

Installing a room thermostat and seven thermostatic radiator valves would cost around £350 but could save you between £70 and £150 a year.

WinACC November 2014

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