Tips for more efficient heating

Using the correct kind of heating this winter could slash your energy bills and still keep you warm.

Heating and energy

1 November 2021

When the temperature drops, there’s nothing quite like snuggling up on the sofa with a hot cup of tea and the heating on. It’s one of life’s little pleasures, but it’s not one that comes for free.

Watch our video on how to heat your home more efficiently:

Rising fuel costs mean that turning up the thermostat can be costly. As many as 15 million of us keep the heating off over winter in an energy saving bid to reduce our bills, at a great cost to our health.

Keeping your home warm isn’t just about comfort. The right kind of heating also stops damp and mould in their tracks by keeping your home dry. It’s also important to make sure that you keep your home ventilated as well as heated to prevent condensation from forming.

Money saving methods to heat your home do exist. In this guide we’ll talk through some of the common types of heating in the UK, and how you can use them to your advantage.

Ways to reduce your energy bills

The key to energy saving (and money saving) is to time your heating. By monitoring the temperature in your house, you can keep an eye on how much you’re spending.

Naturally, each heating system has its own benefits, and we've picked out three of the most common types below.

Thermostats

Many houses have a thermostat. These prevent your heating system from warming up your home more than needed. You also have full control of your heating, as you can set the thermostat to the temperature you’d like. Once your home has warmed up, the heating will switch off automatically.

Smart thermostats are a great way to cut your heating bills. With these, you have the ability to set the room temperature from your smartphone wherever you are. So, before you start the commute home, you can turn the heating on. A smart thermostat can also learn your household patterns. So, it’ll learn when to warm your home up, and to what temperature. This helps optimise your home’s heating and keep your bills down.

Timers

Timers are another great way to make sure the heating only comes on when it’s needed. Start by setting the timer for an hour or so in the morning so your home is warm when you wake up, an hour before you come in from work, and to turn off an hour before going to bed. You can tweak the timing to suit your own lifestyle and habits.

Cylinder thermostat

Finally, if you don’t have a combi boiler, make sure your boiler’s hot water tank has a cylinder thermostat. This will let you set the correct temperature to keep the water hot, but not so high that the boiler overheats. The boiler thermostat temperature should ideally be 60-65 Celsius. Keeping your hot water tank at these temperatures will help you save money - any higher, and you'll be using more energy than you need to.

Gas central heating

The majority of British homes have gas central heating. These pump hot water through the network of radiators in your home.

Your central heating is only as efficient as the boiler that fuels it. Boilers account for more than half of your energy bills each year. If you have a particularly old boiler, replacing it with a more efficient one could save you over £300 a year. If you have a good boiler, central heating is probably the best way to heat your home.

If your central heating system isn’t efficient, there are several tweaks you can make. Your first port of call should to be to check if your radiators need bleeding. Not sure how to bleed a radiator? Take a look at our step-by-step guide.

Once that’s done, try the following to get the most from your heating system:

If you have them, adjusting the thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) on each radiator. Radiator valves let you tweak the temperature to make sure you’re not wasting energy. For example, if you’re in a small room the dial can be kept low. Or even turn the radiator off, if you don’t use that room. This helps reduce the amount of heat needed from the boiler.

It’s worth knowing that thermostats can interfere with the TRV of the nearest radiator. This is because the thermostat could be sending mixed signals to the boiler. So if you have a thermostat in the same room, keep the TRV turned to the highest setting.

Portable electric heaters

These are the most expensive heaters to run, so use them sparingly. There are plenty of different types of portable electric heaters; some of the most common include:

  • Oil-filled radiators
  • Fan heaters
  • Convection heaters
  • Halogen heaters

While there isn’t much to choose between them, halogen heaters have the added bonus of heating up quickly. Meanwhile, fan heaters are great for warming up a small space in a short amount of time. However, as they’re expensive to run, they won’t really help you save money or energy.

If you need to use portable electric heaters, make sure you buy the most efficient model possible. Heaters with a built-in thermostat or timer are best as they give you more control.

You should always look at the energy rating before purchasing one. As a rule of thumb, heaters with a better energy efficiency rating will be cheaper to run.

Fixed electric and gas heaters

Fixed heaters are an alternative to central heating, with both electric and gas versions available. They’re more efficient than portable heaters, but not quite as energy saving as a gas central heating system.

Electric wall panel heaters are also a popular choice. They hang on the wall like a radiator, and work best in small spaces. You’ll need to make sure they are positioned near a plug socket, as this will be their main power source. They heat up quickly, so are great for rooms that you’re only going to be using for a short while.

Gas wall heaters are the most energy saving form of fixed heater. In fact, they’re almost as good as central heating systems for energy efficiency. They need to be fixed to an outside wall in order to reach the gas supply. Again, they heat up quite quickly, and are a popular option in chilly areas of the home such as the landing, hallway, and conservatory.

Keeping your home warm and saving energy is a delicate balance. While each home will be different, we hope you’ll find these tips helpful in finding that perfect blend. It may take a bit of time to get it right. However, once you do, you should see your bills drop in price while keeping your home warm and cosy.

Helping you do more of what matters

Your time counts. We get it. If you need to claim on your home insurance, we don’t want to make you jump through hoops.