The Essential Guide to Home Heating

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, the choices you make about the system you choose and how you use it have never been more important. This guide includes information on how to calculate the optimal temperature for your home, how to pick the best home heating system, how to understand boiler efficiency ratings, and home heating tips and information about heating and energy grants and financing assistance from the government and the private sector.

 

How much heat do you need?

Mr Central Heating's Online Tools include an indispensable 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. Other things to consider are how many people are at home and at what time of day the most heating is required.

 
 

Improving your home insulation

This is home improvement 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 un-insulated or poorly insulated home may lose 25% of the heat a system produces. One startling fact: The effectiveness of loft insulation is 42 years, making this one simple improvement very cost effective - and you may do it yourself. If loft joists are regularly spaced you may use rolls of mineral wool insulation.

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.

Other spaces require other means. 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 in order to avoid condensation problems. Damp lofts require professional treatment in order 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 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 or all of 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 outside or inside. The cost of insulating solid walls is greater than for cavity walls, but the savings 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. Warm air will stay inside and cold air outside, and without draughts your home will feel more comfortable at lower indoor temperatures. Your energy costs should be significantly lower.

 

Boiler efficiency ratings

More than half of your home fuel cost is devoted to providing heat and hot water from your boiler system. To improve the efficiency of your boiler you must first determine what type of system you have - combi! combination) or regular - and whether it's fueled by mains gas (the cheapest) or, where mains are not available, oil, LPG (tank), coal or wood. Note that some heating systems have an electric immersion heater in the hot water storage cylinder as back-up.

A combi boiler provides hot water directly, requiring no external hot water cylinder. Gas, oil and LPG may fuel combi boilers. The regular boiler stores hot water in an external cylinder until needed, which is more energy efficient than the combi boiler but, because heat is inevitably lost from the hot water cylinder, the regular boiler is often more efficient overall.

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.
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Compare gas and electricity prices for the best deal available.
  • Put tin foil behind radiators to reflect heat back in to the room.
  • Hang thermal curtains over doors and windows.
  • Remember: Turn down the thermostat 1°C and reduce energy consumption as much as 10%, with an equivalent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.