Pipe dream: The copper pipes from Rachel's boiler need to be insulated

Six tips to cut the cost of heating your home by hundreds of pounds

Pipe dream: The copper pipes from Rachel’s boiler need to be insulated

As the cost of energy skyrockets, everyone is on deck to prevent bills from decimating household finances. On Thursday, new Prime Minister Liz Truss revealed the government’s latest support package, a cap on gas costs that could be worth around £150billion.

The move will freeze energy bills at around £2,500 a year until 2024, shielding households from the true cost, which is expected to average £5,386 by January.

It’s a welcome relief for beleaguered families, who are already struggling under the weight of the rising cost of everything – from rent and mortgages to purchases and bills. But even with this intervention, households will still have to do their part to get their energy bills under control.

They will still be double what they were a year ago.

One course of action that all households can take in the coming weeks is to make sure their heating controls are set correctly. Done correctly, it will save them hundreds of pounds on energy bills over the next few months.

Last week, I sought expert advice on this matter from Jerry Whiteley, Technical Director of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering.

I invited him to my home in East London to give me the details of six simple things I could do for free to winterize my home amid huge energy bills.

1) Check your boiler’s radiator dial

Most boilers have a control that regulates the temperature at which water is routed around the radiators. In the depths of winter, I’ve been known to hit this frame under the false belief that it was necessary to make the house nice and warm.

But Jerry tells me you can often warm your home by keeping the heater dial on a lower setting — and save money in the process.

“You can usually achieve the same temperature on a lower setting, but it may take a few minutes longer to get there,” he says.

“It’s like the difference between driving from London to Manchester at 50mph or 80mph. At lower speeds, it will take you longer, but you will still arrive at the same destination and save money thanks to fuel efficiency.

Jerry recommends a temperature of around 55°C for optimum heat and efficiency. Most boilers have a separate temperature display and you can simply move the heater dial until it reaches around 55°C.

Some older boilers do not display the temperature. In this case, you can buy a pipe thermostat for a few pounds, which you can attach to the pipe under your boiler to do the same job.

There are hundreds of different boiler types and, like all of Jerry’s advice, these are useful rules of thumb, but they may need to be adapted to your own home installation. How your household uses energy also affects the optimal settings for you.

2) Attach the hot water dials

Next we move on to the hot water dial, found on most combi boilers like mine. This determines the temperature at which the water comes out of the hot water taps.

“A lot of people set that dial too high and then have to mix in cold water to get the right temperature for showering and washing dishes,” says Jerry.

“It uses more water, which can increase both your water bill and your consumption.”

Jerry says an optimal temperature is around 43 degrees if you have a combi boiler, which only heats the water you need.

However, if your heating system includes a hot water tank, you will need to keep the temperature much higher – closer to 60 degrees.

This is because Legionella bacteria can multiply in colder water, causing illness if you inhale it.

3) Buy cheap insulation

Jerry does his best to hide his dismay, but I can tell he is slightly dismayed when he sees the exposed copper pipes sticking out of my boiler.

“You can buy some pipe insulation for a few pounds at a DIY store and you’ll get your money back many times over over the winter,” he says.

The Boiler is under the stairs where all sorts of wreckage – including camping gear, mops and a folding bike – is stored. It turns out that because the pipes aren’t insulated, they warm it all up instead of the heat being directed to the radiators.

Your home will be just as warm if you turn down two dials on your boiler - the left one pictured above controls the water flowing to the radiators, while the right one changes the temperature of the taps

Your home will be just as warm if you turn down two dials on your boiler – the left one pictured above controls the water flowing to the radiators, while the right one changes the temperature of the taps

In other words, we spend money keeping our camping gear warm instead of ourselves.

My DIY job this weekend will be to purchase and install pipe insulation. It can be cut to size with a good pair of scissors and adjusted in minutes.

Jerry adds that many homes with a hot water tank make such a mistake. “People often put their towels away with their cylinder and congratulate themselves on having nice, warm towels,” he says. “But it may be a sign that they need better insulation.”

4) Check the timer settings

Millions of homes set their heating to turn on automatically during the colder months. But not everyone checks every year that the schedules still suit them.

“Think about how your habits may have changed,” says Jerry.

“For example, you may find that you no longer need the heater at dawn if you get up later on these days.”

5) Check your thermostat

The thermostat regulates the temperature in your home. You set a preferred temperature and if your home drops below it, the thermostat will tell your boiler to turn on.

Jerry recommends setting it between 18°C ​​and 21°C, but that comes down to personal choice, need, and affordability.

6) Don’t forget your radiator settings

The more radiators you have on, the higher your bills, so it makes sense to turn them off or turn them down in rooms you don’t use.

The dials on them, called thermostatic radiator valves, measure the temperature in the room. So, Jerry says it’s essential that they’re clean, dust-free and out of direct sunlight to get an accurate reading.

If you don’t have control valves on your radiators, you could save hundreds of dollars by installing them, he adds. Without them, you have little control over the blown temperature.

Finally, Jerry recommends that households have their boiler serviced annually and hire a professional plumbing and heating installer if you need to upgrade your heating and hot water controls.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we may earn a small commission. This helps us fund This Is Money and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any business relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Six tips to cut the cost of heating your home by hundreds of pounds

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.