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How to make your central heating more efficient

Looking for some energy saving tips that will make your home run more efficiently? Then you’ve come to the right place! In this blog we’ll give you lots of tips on how to make your central heating system more efficient. A more efficient heating system means you’ll be forking out less money on your energy bills and will be reducing your carbon footprint too.

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A family putting money into a piggy bank next to green shoots.How to make your central heating more efficient…

Looking for some heating and energy saving tips that will help you to save money on your fuel bills?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve put together this list of 10 tips on how to make your central heating system more efficient.

A more efficient heating system means that you’ll be forking out less money on your energy bills. And will be reducing your carbon footprint too. 

In this blog we’ll look at 10 energy saving tips. Ranging from making small changes around the house, to bigger renovation works.

All these tips can help you to make savings whilst still keeping your family cozy.

1.   Make your central heating more efficient with a power flush

Statistics from BEISHave you been neglecting your heating system?

Although we understand that most things need to be cleaned and maintained in order to perform at their best; (just think about how grim your hoover filter looks, when it’s overdue a clean!); – we don’t often think about cleaning our heating systems. But we should.

Your boiler is working hard for you every day of the year, pumping water all around your house.

But inevitably, over time, this water will deposit unwanted by-products like rust and dirt. This gathers to become a gunky substance, known as ‘sludge’.

Having sludge in your pipes and radiators wreaks havoc with the efficiency of your heating system.

A radiator can’t get hot if it’s full of gunk, and your boiler will be working overtime trying to compensate.

Not only is this likely to increase your energy bills; but it can damage parts of your heating system; leading to breakdowns; and possibly the need for a full boiler replacement.

What is power flushing?

Before and after a power flush.But there is a simple solution – a power flush.

A power flush is a cleansing process which cleans your entire central heating system; removing the sludge, which would otherwise cause damage and reduce efficiency.

So, if your radiators haven’t been warming up like they used to (and they don’t need bleeding); it might be worth asking your heating engineer about getting a power flush.

During a power flush your engineer will connect a pump to your central heating system. This pump will push chemicals and a descaler through the pipes, boiler and radiators at a high pressure.

These chemicals remove sludge, rust, and limescale.

They will also use a corrosion inhibitor to help prevent future rust from forming. Your Gas Safe engineer will collect and dispose of any contaminated water; debris; or particles that they remove from the system. 

Depending on the condition of the system; your engineer may also use special tools on the exterior of the radiator to dislodge stubborn blockages.

They should be able to measure the temperature of your radiators before they have started work; and then show you the improvement after the power flush.

2.   Make your central heating more efficient with a new boiler

An ATAG Economiser Plus.If your boiler is on-the-blink; or is coming to the end of its lifespan; and a power flush just won’t cut it – you should consider replacing it with a new efficient model.

Boilers are much more efficient than they used to be. And a more efficient boiler will save you money on your energy bills.

To find out how efficient your boiler is; look for a sticker showing where it sits on the ErP (Energy-related Products) scale.

Boilers are rated on a scale of A to G, with A being the most energy efficient.

The Boiler Plus Regulations require that new combi boilers are A rated for efficiency; and are at least 92% efficient. Older Grated boilers can have an efficiency of 70% or less.

If your boiler is at the lower end of the scale; your boiler could be wasting more than 30p in every £1 that you spend on fuel. So the savings can be big!

Not only that, it’s also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Because boilers account for 60% of the carbon dioxide emissions in a gas heated home.

You might like our related blogs: 6 signs you need a new boiler; and 6 Top tips for buying a new boiler.

3.   Make your central heating more efficient by replacing your radiators

A mother and child sat above a radiator.It’s not just boilers that have become more efficient,  radiators have come a long way too.

According to Chris Harvey at Stelrad Radiators; radiators manufactured after 2000 can be up to 50% more efficient than older ones. This is due to the increased surface area of newer radiators and the improved convection fins.

People often fall into the trap of thinking that bigger radiators must be better at warming your home; because they have more area to ‘radiate’ heat from. This is an understandable mistake.

But the name ‘radiator’ is misleading. Only 20% of the heat generated by a standard radiator is radiant heat – 80% is caused by convection.

And radiators that are sized to run at a cooler temperature, while still heating your room; allow your boiler to work more efficiently.

This is because modern gas condensing boilers are more efficient at lower temperatures. And are only fully condensing when the flow temperature is below 55℃.

So, if you’re upgrading your boiler, it’s well worth looking at your radiators too.

4.   Make your central heating more efficient with insulation

Thermal image of a house losing heat.When your central heating’s on, you want it to be warming you up, and not your garden!

But if your loft hasn’t been insulated, you’ll have lots of heat loss.

Lofts are one of the most common places in the home for warmth to escape from. All homes lose heat, but adding insulation will slow this process down.

 Insulating your loft, or thickening any insulation that’s already there; is an effective way to retain heat where you want it. The same is true of filling your cavity walls with insulation.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, with decent loft insulation, you could save between £120 and £225 a year. And filling your cavity walls could save you between £70 and £255 a year.

5.   Make your central heating more efficient by replacing your windows

Can you feel a draft coming in through your windows? That means your heat is getting out, too – and you don’t want that!

Heat loss through windows can be reduced by using double or triple glazing.

These windows have air or a vacuum between two or three panes of glass; which are then sealed in a frame.

Just like how a vacuum flask works for keeping your tea warm; creating a vacuum between the panes of glass, will reduce the heat loss through your windows.

If you’re looking to install double glazing in your home; but are confused by all of the choices available; look for the British Federation Rating Council (BFRC) rating.

Similarly, to how boilers are rated for their efficiency, windows are too. Window manufacturers can show the energy efficiency of their products using an energy-rating scale from A++ to E. 

Whilst there will be a cost to fitting double glazing; the annual savings on your energy bills for an average semi-detached house, is between £75-80, according to the EST.

But if you can’t quite stretch to secondary glazing right now, even some heavy curtains will help!

6.   Make your central heating more efficient with programmable heating controls

A woman controlling a Nest Smart Thermostat.If your heating system is poorly programmed or has limited to no controls, you’ll be wasting lots of energy.

Updating your heating controls can make a big difference to how much energy your home uses.

Heating controls are really important for two main reasons. Firstly, they keep you in control of your comfort and your energy bills; and secondly, they help you to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Heating controls allow you to keep your home warm and cosy when you need it to be; whilst simultaneously keeping your energy bills as low as possible.

According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), you can save £75 a year if you install and correctly use a programmer; room thermostat; and thermostatic radiator valves.

Another advantage of updating your heating controls is the added comfort and convenience that they bring.

Heating controls make your heating work for you and your schedule. They allow you to schedule your heating and hot water to go on and off when needed. And smart controls allow you to control your heating from wherever you are.

You’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that your home will be nice and cozy when you get home from work; without wasting energy heating an empty home.

7.   Make your central heating more efficient by turning your thermostat down by one degree

Lots of people mistakenly believe that if they crank their thermostat up when the cold weather hits; their home will warm up faster. But this is a mistake!

Thermostats have no control over the speed at which your home heats up. They simply set the desired temperature of your heating.

So, if you fall into this trap, you won’t get warmer any quicker. And chances are, you’ll just heat your home past your desired temperature, wasting more energy and money.

What you should be doing, is turning your thermostat down by one degree. Let’s be honest, you probably won’t even notice one degree difference in your room temperature. But you will on your heating bills!

According to the Energy Saving Trust, this one simple tip could reduce your energy bills by around £80 a year.

Maybe you’d still be comfortable turning it down by more than one degree?

Why not try turning your heating controls down until you find the best temperature for your comfort levels; and your wallet!

8.   Make your central heating more efficient by spending less time in the shower and fitting a water saving showerhead

Showers are the greener option to taking a bath, right? Not necessarily.

According to a study by Unilever, the average person takes an eight-minute shower. Which uses 62 litres of hot water, compared with an average bath’s 80 litres.

The study also suggested that if you use a power shower; then an eight-minute shower would require twice as much water and energy as a bath.

So, if you’re spending twenty minutes or more in the shower, you’re probably using much more energy than you think!

There are a couple of simple tricks to try here. One option is to fit a water saving showerhead; because this will help you to cut back on the amount of water and energy you use.

Secondly, if you cut the length of your shower by just two minutes; you could save £20 a year, according to Which.

9.   Make your central heating more efficient by requesting an energy monitor

Do you know how much energy you waste? You can find out by investing in an energy monitor.

These little devices let you know how much electricity you’re using; so you can cut back where you need to, and save money on your energy bills.

They cost around £25 to £40 but some gas and electricity companies give them to customers for free.

So, if you want to be able to keep a closer eye on the amount of electricity you’re using at home; you could ask your energy supplier for an energy monitor.

10.  Make your central heating more efficient with weather compensation

A diagram of weather compensation.Weather compensation controls are one of the energy saving devices listed in the Boiler Plus regulations.

We prefer weather compensation devices over the other options; because they offer the biggest efficiency gain and are a simple technology to integrate.

Weather compensators allow your boiler to automatically adapt to how warm or cold it is outside.

This sounds a bit strange, but the speed at which we lose the heat from our homes (through the fabric of the building) depends on the outdoor temperature.

On a cold day, the heat will be lost more quickly than on a warm day.

A weather compensator tells your boiler to increase or decrease the temperature of your radiators to match the heat loss caused by the weather.

This means you won’t be wasting energy heating a home when it’s already nice and warm; or having to worry about it coming on when it’s cold.

ATAG boilers come with weather compensation as standard, which is one of the many reasons we rate them.

Final thoughts…

We hope you’ve found these tips helpful. You might like our related blog: How to choose an energy efficient boiler.

To discuss any upgrades to your central heating system that you’re thinking of making, contact The Heating People today.

Useful Links:

Energy Saving Trust information on insulation

Which? reviews of energy saving shower heads

Which? article on saving water at home

BBC news article on Britain’s showering habits

Article on radiator efficiency