With fuel bills representing a considerable proportion of the average household’s expenditure, it is not surprising that many of us want to know the most energy saving and cost-efficient method of running a boiler. There appears to be two choices when it comes to setting the boiler, particularly with regards to heating a home, and it is difficult to know which method will result in lower heating bills.
In a nutshell: is it economical to set the boiler on high for a short time and then turn it off, or is it more efficient to run the boiler at a lower temperature for longer?
The efficiency of the central heating system itself, the various possible sets of controls a system can have and the size and numbers of the radiators are all factors in determining a boiler’s most economical operating method. Assuming you have a condensing boiler (as is the case with all modern boilers – if you don’t have this type it’s a good idea to get a new boiler quote), it is very important to set the correct boiler power output.
If you set it too high, as is possible if you use the first method and put the heating on full with an idea to turning it off soon after, the risk is that the water which returns to the condensing boiler after having circulated through the radiators will be too high a temperature to recover enough heat from the boiler’s exhaust gases. Consequently, the very thing that makes a condensing boiler more efficient than an old type model will be compromised.
Therefore the second method, i.e. running the boiler at a slightly lower temperature for longer, results in lower home heating costs. To make sure this really is the case, however, it is advisable to make sure your central heating system has the full set of controls that will help you regulate the temperature and focus energy on the areas of the home where it is needed most.
Boiler controls and thermostats
Central heating boiler costs, particularly operating costs, can be minimised with the right combination of thermostats and controls. Ideally, a full set of controls will include a thermostat for the boiler, a thermostat for each room and TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves).
Boiler thermostats set the temperature of the water that will be pumped to the radiators. The higher this is set, the more energy will be used and the hotter your radiators will become. As long as you have room thermostats, you can set the boiler thermostat reasonably high to make sure that enough heat is generated. Room thermostats make sure that each room doesn’t get any warmer than it needs to, most people set theirs between 18°C and 21°C. To make a noticeable saving on your energy bill, try setting this thermostat at just one degree lower than normal, after a year you could make a saving of around £70 according the Energy Savings Trust. TRVs reduce the flow of water through the radiators when the temperature goes above a certain setting. It is an effective means of making sure that your radiators don’t become unnecessarily hot, thereby wasting energy.
Combined, these controls will allow you to keep the temperature of your home comfortable without any wastage of fuel or heat.