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Guide to Reducing Winter Heating Costs

Your heating bills are not just down to your boiler. They are mainly down to heat loss. If you can prevent your home from losing heat, your boiler won't need to work as hard to put the heat back into your home.

During winter, heating your home covers the largest portion of your total energy consumption and cost. Is your boiler among the 95% of 800,000 of homes that have no manual or programmable controls? Consider too, that over 70% of these lack the minimum controls needed to meet building regulations, such as a timer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves. This guide aims to provide up-to-date information and practical tips to help you reduce your winter heating costs.

Ways and amounts of heat loss a home can suffer.
  • 35% of your heat is lost through your walls.
  • 25% of your heat is lost through your roof.
  • 15% of your heat is lost through your doors.
  • 15% of your heat is lost through your floor.
  • 10% of your heat is lost through your windows.

Top sources of household heat leaks and how to find them

Outside inspection of your home

Finding out exactly where you're losing heat is the first step toward saving up to 30% per year on your heating costs. Begin by inspecting the outside of your home at every place where different building materials meet, including exterior corners, outdoor garden taps, where outside surfaces and chimneys meet, and where the building foundation and exterior brickwork meet.

Check around windows, pipes and cables entering the house where draughts can get in and heat can get out.
It may seem a small point, but did you fill round the hole for the pipe of your garden tap? There may be lots of little objects like this entering your house which is building up to a bigger heat loss than you might realise.
Seems obvious, but are you double glazed? A big window like this, that isn't double or even triple glazed, could result in enough heat loss for you to need another radiator in the room just to balance it and keep it cosy.

Inside inspection of your home

There will be some entry points inside your home that you might not have considered. Start by checking for cracks and gaps around electrical outlets, switch plates, door and window frames, electrical and gas service entrances, skirting boards, draught excluders around doors, fireplace dampers, loft hatches, cable TV and telephone lines, air conditioners, vents and fans, the area surrounding pipes and wires, letter boxes, and the condition of any sealant used around the house. Windows and doors deserve close attention when you're looking for leaks. If they rattle, check seals and sealant or for a long-term solution, consider replacing them. If new windows and doors are too costly, you might want to install secondary glazing, which can be fitted over existing windows.

This socket is neatly fitted, but some can be badly fitted with gaps to cold walls and no insulation. If it is loose or there are cracks around the socket, this could be another source of heat loss. This may also need to be addressed for safety reasons.
Don't forget to check the inside of your chimney and your fireplace. Is the damper fitted correctly?
Have a good look round your windows. There isn't much point in having double glazing if there are gaps or badly applied sealant.

Insulation

One of the more obvious places to start checking is the insulation in your home. You could reduce heat loss through ceilings and walls by increasing the level of insulation, using sealant and draught excluders around all ductwork and outlets, and making sure that a vapour barrier is in place under the loft insulation. Wall insulation is sometimes difficult to check, but can be measured by removing the cover plate from an electrical outlet and using a thin, long stick to pull out a bit of insulation for examination (be sure to check that the outlet isn't live and it is safe to do this task. If unsure, contact a qualified electrician).
After you've conducted your own energy audit, consider following up with a professional home energy audit. The information you've already determined will help a professional assess all the possibilities for you to save on your energy and heating costs.

Don't forget to check your loft insulation. Is it being compressed by years of belongings being piled up on it? It could be time to replace it.

Timers, thermostats, and radiator valves

Mr Central Heating has some great products to help you take back control of your home heating and save you money on your bills. By installing a Google Nest Learning Thermostat (NLT) you could save up to £75 off your yearly energy bill as well as reduce your annual carbon emissions by up to 330kg. The NTL can adapt its settings to the temperature you prefer, programming itself to suit your needs. When replacing your thermostat, consider the Google Nest Thermostat E (NTE). The NTE is set with a simple schedule to help you save from day one.

The NTL and NTE knows how long it takes to heat your home so that you're comfortable when you get there and turns down the heat when you leave so that you can save energy. By working for you and your routine, heat and energy isn't wasted and results in a highly efficient output. You can also use the Nest App on your smart phone which works with Nest products. Control your central heating even when you're not at home so that you can save energy and money. Please note: the NTL is a programmer and thermostat combined whilst the NTE is just a thermostat.

Radiator valves are essential for regulating room temperature and Mr Central Heating has a full range of the most functional and most decorative models anywhere. The Bentley Gothic antique brass TRV (thermostatic radiator valve) twin pack from Evolve has a reversible valve and a matching lockshield valve. To select the desired room temperature, simply rotate the wheel handle clockwise or anti-clockwise. The Elegance Wave antique copper TRV twin pack with lockshield is a stylish alternative to regular white and chrome sets without breaking the bank. Manual radiator valves are very economical and we stock a full line of Evolve and Bentley models for every configuration.

The Google Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E.

Home energy upgrades to reduce heating costs

If your heating system or boiler is over 15 years old, you might want to consider replacing it with a new, more energy efficient model. Mr Central Heating has a system for every budget with prices starting under six hundred. Why not check out the Vaillant Ecotec Pro 24he part L boiler change pack which includes the reliable and efficient with thermostatic radiator valves and a room thermostat - so you can upgrade your heating system with confidence that you are meeting building regulations part L. Other choices are the; Potterton Gold 24he part L combi-boiler change pack; Baxi Duo-Tec 24HE part L boiler change pack; and the popular Baxi Platinum 40HE part L boiler change pack.

Don't forget to grab a HomeScale Protect to protect your new boiler and heating systems from the damage caused by the build-up of limescale and to ensure the whole system lasts longer

Protect your home with the HomeScale Protect.

Selecting a heating system

Before selecting a home heating system consider four questions: What is your budget for a new heating system? What is the efficiency rating of the boiler you're considering? Do you plan any building or remodelling that would require the boiler to be moved in future? Do you plan to insulate your home or replace the windows? We'll examine these questions in the following guides.