How can we be more energy efficient with our heating?
If you want to save money on your heating but don’t have wall insulation, attach tin foil to some light card and fix it to the wall behind your radiators. This will reduce heat loss by reflecting more heat into the room, rather than let the heat from the back of the radiators escape through the walls. If you don’t want to DIY, you can buy ready-made energy saving radiator panels, which are widely available online or in DIY stores.
If there are rooms that you don’t use, while the kids are at university for example, turn those radiators off and shut the door so you don’t waste energy.
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How can I save on heating bills in winter?
Homes need good ventilation to reduce condensation and damp but, as temperatures fall, a draughty home will make you reach for the thermostat. By simply using draught excluders on doors, blocking gaps around windows and ensuring your radiators can do their job—don’t place furniture and curtains in front of them or dry clothes on them—you’ll have far more control over the temperature of your home and you’ll save money on your heating bill.
I’m in the market for a new boiler, what should I look for?
If you’re just replacing your boiler, your decision is more likely to be based on budget and the boiler’s features and benefits. However, you may want your boiler to have different functions. For example, do you want it to provide heat only or heat and hot water? If you live in a small property with minimal space, then a combination boiler may be the answer as there’s no need for a hot water cylinder. Talk to your heating engineer, they will be able to advise you on which will be most suitable for your home and how to save money on your heating bill.
What are the alternatives to gas central heating?
Gas central heating is the most cost effective method of heating your home and saving money on your heating bill. But if you’re not connected to the national gas grid there are plenty of alternatives: electric, LPG or oil central heating, heat pumps and renewable energy.
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What are the differences between electric, LPG, oil central heating and heat pumps? Which would you consider in terms of efficiency, longevity and price?
Here’s a brief description of all of them:
Electric heating is an expensive form of heating, between three to four times higher per unit of energy than gas. The most cost-effective form of electric central heating uses night storage heaters. These heaters use electricity supplied at a cheaper ‘night-time’ rate to heat up special heat-retaining bricks. These bricks then heat your home around the clock using the heat stored in the bricks.
If you’re one of the four million households not on the gas grid, you can install a Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) tank and still enjoy the benefits of gas. The two main differences are that LPG is delivered by road, so you must make sure you don’t run out, traditionally it’s more expensive than oil or gas. Recently the price per litre has been falling, from 47p in October 2015 to 42p October 2016, but this could change. You may have to buy or rent your tank from your LPG supplier and this will increase your running costs and will mean you won’t save quite as much money on your heating bill.
Oil central heating
Like LGP, heating oil is delivered by road and stored in a tank. It too has traditionally been a more expensive fuel, with sudden spikes caused by surges in demand, weather conditions and political unrest. Since 2014 however, the price has been falling—in January 2015 the price was 46p a litre and in January 2016 it fell to 32p. It seems to have now stabilised; in October 2016 at 35p per litre, the same as it was in October 2015.
Ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps extract heat from the ground and outside air in the same way that a fridge extracts heat from its inside. It can get heat from the ground or air even when the temperature is as low as -15° C. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, warm air convectors and hot water in your home. This is a cost-effective alternative to electric central heating with added environmental benefits. The pumps need electricity to run, but the heat they extract from the ground is constantly being renewed naturally. You may also be eligible for payments under the Domestic Renewable Incentive scheme.
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What heating options are there for those wanting to make a low impact on the environment?
Another environmentally friendly alternative (other than heat pumps) is solar PV and solar thermal panels. These are one of the least harmful heating options because they involve renewing energy; they work by generate electricity from daylight. Once the systems are installed—which will be more costly than installing a conventional heating system—they are very inexpensive to run, have no carbon emissions, drastically cut your electricity bills and can earn you money from the Feed-in Tariff (solar PV) and from the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (solar thermal).
The only downside to solar PV, apart from the initial installation cost, is that most systems have no means of saving the energy generated during the day; it gets exported back to the grid although you will get paid for it. A storage battery will make your system a lot more flexible. It isn’t necessarily the best way to save money on your heating bill, but is certainly friendlier to the environment.
Our thanks to Intergas for their help with this article. Intergas is a leader in boiler manufacturing with 50 years experience in boiler technology. To find out more visit their website: intergasheating.co.uk
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