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The Essential Guide to Home Heating

A little lost when it comes to choosing the right heating systems for you? Let us help with our essential guide to home heating. We explain everything from finding the perfect temperature for your home to understanding efficiency ratings.

Whether you're upgrading to a more energy-efficient boiler, installing a new heating system or looking for advice on how to reduce your home heating bill, we’re here to help. This helpful guide includes a range of information to help you find the best home heating systems, understanding boiler efficiency ratings and how you could save money on heating bills by fixing your home insulation.

Boiler in Kitchen

How much heat do you need?

Mr Central Heating's Online Tools include a handy BTU Calculator. Follow the form to calculate the BTU (energy) requirement of your rooms and we'll help you select the best products to meet your home heating needs. You will need to know the dimensions of the room you want to heat before you get started.

Install loft insulation to reduce home heating bills.

Improving your home insulation

This is one home improvement task that should interest everyone. There are many things you can do to improve the insulation of your home, all of which will reduce heat loss, improve the efficiency of your heating system and lower your heating costs. The Energy Saving Trust details everything you need to know to make your home more comfortable, beginning with your roof and loft.

Because heat rises, an uninsulated or poorly insulated home may lose up to 25% of the heat a system produces. Did you know that the effectiveness of loft insulation is 42 years? This one simple improvement is cost effective - and you may be able to do it yourself.

To make sure you install enough attic insulation, the following steps are essential:

  • Lay mineral wool insulation between the joists and lay insulation board on top, followed by a layer of wooden board, or
  • Raise the level of the floor and place mineral wool beneath the new floor. Take care not to compress the mineral wool beneath this new floor as the wool needs air pockets to retain heat.

If your attic is an inaccessible space, a specialist with proper equipment may blow fire-retardant insulation material into the loft space. Flat roofs are best insulated from above to avoid condensation problems. Damp lofts require professional treatment to find the cause of the dampness before installing any insulation. Pipes and water tanks must be insulated to protect them from freezing and loft hatch may be insulated with a draught excluder.

Floor insulation will provide significant savings, especially if you insulate any floors above unheated spaces. Gaps and draughts around skirting boards and floors are easily fixed with a tube of sealant. These measures will result in significant savings, especially if you do some of or all the work yourself. Fill the space between two walls (the cavity) with insulation to keep in heat and reduce any condensation forming on inside walls. Solid walls may be insulated from the outside or the inside. The cost of insulating solid walls is greater than for cavity walls, but the savings on heating bills are usually greater too.

Eliminating draughts is the simplest, least expensive and often most cost effective way to improve the efficiency of any home heating system. Without any draughts, your home will feel more comfortable at lower room temperatures. Your energy costs should also be significantly lower.

Identifying your boiler

Over half of your heating bill comes from providing heat and hot water from your boiler. When looking to improve the efficiency of your boiler, you need to what type of system you have. Firstly, you will need to check if you have a combi-boiler or a conventional boiler and you will need to check whether your boiler is fuelled by mains gas (the cheapest) or, where mains are not available, oil, LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas stored in a tank), coal or wood. Please note that some heating systems have an electric immersion heater in the hot water storage cylinder as back-up if required. Let’s take a look at the differences and find which would better suit your needs.

Combi-Boiler or Combination Boiler:

Exactly as it says. A combination of a high efficiency water heater and a central heating boiler in one compact unit. Great for saving space in the kitchen or utility room and for providing near instant hot water straight from the mains. These boilers are great for smaller households but would be less efficient for larger families with higher demand for hot water. A combi-boiler may be fuelled by gas, oil and LPG as it doesn’t require an external hot water cylinder. Although the conventional boiler may be more energy efficient in terms of energy usage, heat is inevitably lost from the hot water cylinder. This means the combi-boiler is often more efficient overall.

Conventional Boiler:

A standard boiler that requires a water storage tank and cylinder. Although they take up more space (boiler most often stored in kitchen or utility room and water tank/cylinder in airing cupboard/loft), they are better suited to larger families. They can store hot water in the tanks throughout the day and can heat up water to be stored overnight allowing for hot water usage at any point of the day. With water being stored, your system can cope better with the high demand and therefore is more energy efficient.

ERP efficency rating

Boiler efficiency ratings

Now that we're clear about the type of boiler in your home, we can address the question of its efficiency. The SEDBUK - Seasonal Efficiency of Domestic Boilers in the UK - is an excellent rating tool (homeheatingguide.co.uk ) that will tell you the rating of your domestic boiler from A - 90% and above, to G - Below 70%. With this information, you'll be able to assess how best to improve your home heating efficiency.

Useful home heating tips

Increase wall and floor insulation

Seal all draughts - and don't forget pet doors!

Perform regular maintenance on your boiler and radiators

Install a programmable thermostat

Compare energy prices for the best deals

Turn down the thermostat by 1°C