Here are our top tips for making your home more energy efficient now that winter is here.
1. Fit a new boiler. If you can afford to, replacing an old boiler with a new one will improve your central heating system and save you money because it will be more efficient. A boiler that’s 15 years old or more is only around 60%-70% efficient, so around 30p-40p of every pound spent on heating and hot water is wasted, but a new A-rated condensing boiler is around 90% efficient.
2. Replace or insulate the hot-water cylinder. New cylinders for boilers come with a thick layer of built-in insulation, so they’re a good investment, but lots of us have older cylinders that benefit from being fitted with an insulation jacket (at least 75mm thick). According to the Energy Saving Trust, fitting an insulation jacket to an uninsulated cylinder will save you around £110-£135 a year (based on a typical gas-heated home in England, Scotland and Wales). Cylinder jackets, such as the BSI-approved Hot Water Cylinder Jacket (£8.45, Screwfix) are inexpensive, easy to fit and will keep the water hotter for longer. Another way to save money is to set the thermostat on the cylinder to the right temperature - 60 C-65 C is recommended - so the water inside isn’t heated unnecessarily.
3. Change the radiators. To ensure your home’s radiators are working at full capacity, bleed them with a radiator key or small screwdriver (when the heating is off and the radiators are cold), depending on the type of bleed valve. Replacing old radiators, although not cheap, may reduce your heating bills because new radiators should work better than old ones. They may heat up quicker when the heating’s turned on and retain heat for longer when it’s turned off, for example. You often get as much, or more, heat output from a new smaller radiator than an old bigger one.
4. Upgrade the radiator valves. Many old radiators don’t have adjustable valves - they’re either on or off, so fitting adjustable valves will enable you to turn the heat down without turning it off. The Energy Saving Trust says the thermostat should be set to the lowest comfortable temperature, which is usually 18Â°C-21Â°C. It should turn the heating on until the set temperature is reached and then turn the heating off until the temperature drops.
5. Use a smart control system. Smart controls, such as Worcester’s Wave, enable you to control your heating and hot water from your smartphone, computer or tablet, and although they usually cost more than conventional controls, they could save you money. For example, instead of leaving the heating on when you go out on a cold day, you can turn it on using your smartphone when you’re on your way home.