Heating water for our central heating systems, and for our routine bathroom and kitchen needs, accounts for a substantial part of household costs. In this blog post and the next, I’ll be looking at some of the ways you might reduce your heating bill.

Have the heating on only when needed

This generally means having it on only when you’re at home and awake, and depending on the sophistication of your timer, it can be arranged for a variety of daily routines. The Centre for Sustainable Energy recommends this practice over the oft-suggested alternative of having the heating on constantly at a lower temperature, pointing out that ‘even if you turn your thermostat down a bit, your boiler will keep firing up and using energy (and cost you money) at times when you won’t feel the benefit.’ The risk of being cold at the beginning of the day, or on arriving home when the heating has only just come on, can be circumvented by setting it to come on about half an hour earlier than needed, so the house warms up by the time you’re around.

Turn down your thermostats

Your room thermostat, which regulates and maintains the temperature throughout the rooms of your home, isn’t to be confused with your boiler thermostat, which regulates and maintains the temperature of water in your boiler. The Energy Saving Trust suggests experimenting with turning your room thermostat down a degree or two from its current setting and seeing how this feels – turning it down by just one degree could, they say, ‘save around £75 and 310kg carbon dioxide a year.’ As for your boiler thermostat, the environmental charity Act on Energy recommends tuning this down to 60° as a way to cut bills.

Gas hobUse gas rather than electricity for heating

Most heating systems in the UK are central heating systems run on gas, but some homes use electric heaters instead. As mentioned in a previous post, gas is (generally speaking) both significantly cheaper and more energy efficient than electricity when it comes to heating, so if your heating system is electric it’s worth looking into replacing it with a gas system. The same cost and efficiency issues come into play with appliances which heat as well as with larger home-heating systems, making it a consideration whether to use a gas-hob kettle, for example, in preference to an electric kettle. However, the general consensus here seems to be that the higher efficiency of gas as primary energy (rather than a generated form of energy like electricity) is offset by the heat loss that takes place when heating water on a gas hob, compared to the near-100% heat transfer between the element of an electric kettle and the water inside.

Maintain your heating system

Keeping your central heating system in good working order reduces your heating bill by increasing the system’s overall efficiency. Some suggestions for maintaining your heating system were given in a previous blog post and include using your heating less, having your boiler regularly serviced and carrying out a power flush.

[Photos by Alvimann and mconners]