Guide to Saving Energy
This guide is intended to give householders cost effective ways of reducing their fuel bills.
Since we are a heating firm we have concentrated on heating measures and provided indicative costs (based on our own prices) and potential fuel savings (based on on-line research) for the upgrades you can make to your heating system. Costs are estimates of what we would expect to charge for uncomplicated installations.
Carbon reduction through renewable sources
We are big fans of renewable energy systems and the potential they have for reducing our carbon foot print and our reliance on fossil fuels. However the size and cost will prohibit most homeowners benefiting from a renewable technology, perhaps with the exception of wood burning stoves. Moreover, for most households, the installation simply would not save enough money in fuel bills for the installation to ‘pay for itself’ over its life time.
For the vast majority of us on mains gas there are far more cost effective and accessible ways of reducing our carbon footprint – not by switching to a renewable energy source but rather by reducing our heat demand or improving the efficiency with which heat is generated - some of which are set here.
New condensing boilers
It is possible to calculate with some accuracy how much money you can save by switching to a new boiler. Use our Guide to: BOILER EFFICIENCY to see how much you can save by upgrading to a new boiler.
A room thermostat is usually a simple dial located in the hallway or lounge that controls the temperature of your property. Thermostats automatically control the boiler to come on and off in order to meet the temperature set (usually between 18°C and 21°C). When the room temperature is below the thermostat temperature the boiler will come on and go off again when the room temperature has been raised. By reducing the temperature by 1°C householders can save around £75 per annum. The cost to install a simple dial thermostat is around £120.
However, a stand alone room thermostat will mean that the whole property is heated to the desired temperature when in fact some rooms, like the bedrooms, will not be in use through the day. Moreover the thermostat will only control the boiler according to room temperature. The boiler will need to be manually turned off when heating is not required or left on even when the property is empty.
Thermostatic radiator valves
Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) do not control the temperature of the boiler. Rather they reduce the flow of water to the radiator they are fitted to when the temperature goes above a certain setting. Fitting TRVs to your radiators will give you greater control of your heating system as radiators in bedrooms and occasional use rooms can be turned down or off, even when the boiler is running, to meet the room thermostat temperature*.
Importance of thermostat location
It is important to locate the thermostat in a room that will always be heated and in use, such as a lounge or hallway. If the room thermostat is located in a room where the TRVs are always on low or off then the temperature on the thermostat will never be met (even when the house is warm elsewhere) so the boiler will not switch off. This is also why there should be no TRV on the radiator where the thermostat is located.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, the combination of a thermostat and TRVs will save around £70 - £150 per annum. Fitting 7 Honeywell TRVs to a heating system will cost around £350.
Programmers and programmable room stats
Programmers are the third key component to a well controlled, efficient heating system. With a thermostat to control the maximum room temperature and TRVs to turn down little used rooms, the final measure is to programme the heating to come on and off for when you are at home. 7-day programmers have the added refinement of being able to programme each day of the week differently. If you already have a thermostat a programmer can be fitted along side it. This will cost around £150. If you do not already have a thermostat you can fit a combined unit which will cost around £220.
Weather compensation can help to heat your home in a more efficient and cost-effective way than standard thermostatic controls. With standard thermostatic controls there is a delay between the temperature dropping outside and the boiler responding, because it takes time for the temperature in the house to drop. With weather compensation, an outside temperature sensor detects the drop in temperature immediately and can trigger the boiler firing quicker. This ensures that the boiler output matches the desired temperature for the house exactly, so maintaining a constant, lower, radiator temperature rather than the radiators running hot and then cold (see table below).
Manufacturers of weather compensation controls claim that homeowners can save an additional 5-10% on an already well controlled heating system.
When a heating system is very old or is not properly cleansed when a new boiler is installed then a material called ‘magnetite’ (like rust, commonly referred to as ‘sludge’) builds up over time and circulates around the radiators and pipework. This makes the system inefficient in terms of heat output and can eventually damage the water components of the boiler – a common symptom of this is that you will start to get only lukewarm water. A powerflush will expel most of the ‘sludge’ from the system, replacing the dirty water with fresh, clean water.
Systems that are heavily affected by ‘sludge’ will take a lot more energy to heat than a system that is clean and sludge free. Powerflushing a ‘sludged’ system will vastly improve the efficiency with which the system will run, although it is difficult to quantify fuel savings as it will depend on how badly the system is affected. Our powerflushes start at £450 + VAT however they are half price with a new boiler installation.
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