by Mike Ellaby, 19 May 2020
When I moved into my new-build house five years ago, I was given a handover session by the builder and estate agent. I was particularly interested in the thermostat on the wall as I had not seen anything like it before. The technical explanation I was given on its operation went along the lines “turn it up when you need it, and down when you don’t.”
I did play around with it (the tech-speak was a bit beyond me) and managed to figure out how to set it to come on and off twice a day using the ‘programmer.’ This programmer – usually attached to a combi boiler or built-in with the thermostat – means you do not have to be manually twiddling it up and down whenever your chilly or roasting.
When I first started as an Energy Advocate, I took a City and Guilds course in Energy Awareness. It was interesting, practically useful and although I passed the exam, I realised that I had nowhere near maximised the economic use of my heating controls and must have wasted money over the years by not using my controls effectively. I dread to think how much, but I could have certainly got a good weekend break out of it!
During the course, I learned about the concept of setting heating for warm-up and cool-down times. My house is modern and well insulated. It only takes about 15 minutes to warm up and the best part of an hour to feel cool. So if I set my heating to come on 15 mins before I get up but turn it off 1 hour before I am due to go out or go to bed I have a period of three-quarters of an hour that I save on heating each day. That will mount up to a decent saving over twelve months. If I do this every day for a year, I save over 270 hours of heating! That’s got to be worthwhile and worth thinking about for each of us.
The trick is to try and keep as much heat in the house as possible, and sometimes it’s the simple things that can be the most cost-effective. Draughts increase heat loss, but it’s relatively cheap to fix with a draught excluder around the door, or sealing any gaps around windows and doors. If you have an open chimney and don’t have an open fire, then the chimney can be sealed by the use of a chimney sheep. Yes, it’s a real thing! Give it a Google!
Insulation is another win. I already have cavity wall insulation in my property, but maybe you don’t, and it can help regulate the heat of your house – keeping you warmer in winter and cooler in summer. You can even get external wall insulation for solid walls (and we have many of these here in the Cotswolds). The funding available for those on low incomes needing solid wall insulation has recently increased, so give our advice line a call on 0800 500 3076 and ask about solid wall insulation. In the past, this has been pretty cost-prohibitive but keep your eyes peeled for funding and do get a free survey and quote if you can.
Like many, I’ve been working from home of late. I work in the dining room, which gets the sun from early morning to early afternoon so I set my thermostatic radiator valve (TRV, or if you want the sports version, TVR..!) lower as I don’t need to heat that room as much when the sun shines. I have also been round other rooms we don’t use much and put them onto lower settings now that the weather is getting warmer. Every little helps – not only for my pocket but for the planet as well. If I can save on my carbon footprint just by making a few changes to my heating at home, so can everyone – it’s a win-win!
If you need some advice from an advisor like me, or you tried adjusting your heating but it’s not working call 0800 500 3076 and ask to have a chat with one of Warm and Well’s Energy Advocates.