Save money on your heating
The typical UK household spends more than half the budget on fuel bills for heating and hot water. As fuel costs rise it becomes even more important to have an efficient and cost effective heating system. One of the main steps you can actually take to reduce your carbon dioxide emissions, is to look at how to improve your heating system.
Understanding your heating system
Most UK homes have either a central heating system i.e. a boiler and radiators, or they use electric storage heaters.
Central heating: boilers and radiators
This type of heating system is the most common form in the UK. A single boiler heats up the water. This hot water is pumped through pipes to radiators throughout the house. It also provides hot water to the kitchen and bathroom taps.
If you have a system like this, you have plenty of options for energy-saving improvements:
- Replace your boiler with a newer, more efficient model.
- Fit better controls for your space and water heating – and use them to make sure your boiler only provides heat where and when you want it.
- Switch to a cheaper or lower carbon fuel or technology. Find out about renewable technologies for generating electricity and heat.
- Make any insulation and draught-proofing improvements that you can.
- Use chemical inhibitors to help maintain central heating system efficiency.
Using chemical inhibitors in central heating systems can help to maintain their efficiency. having more efficient heating saves money on heating bills by reducing your energy consumption. This also reduces the amount of carbon your property generates, which helps to slow the rate of global warming.
Do you have a condensing boiler?
Since 2005 virtually all gas boilers that have been fitted in the UK are more efficient, condensing boilers. Condensing boilers have bigger heat exchangers that recover more heat from the burning gas, making them more efficient. You can tell if your boiler is a condensing boiler with a few simple checks:
- If the flue is made of plastic, you have a condensing boiler. If it is made of metal you probably haven’t.
- If your boiler has a plastic pipe coming out of the bottom of the boiler, through the wall and into a drain, then it is a condensing boiler.
- If you have a gas boiler and it was installed after 2005, then it is almost certainly a condensing boiler.
- If you have an oil boiler and it was installed after 2007, then it is almost certainly a condensing boiler.
- If you don’t already have an efficient condensing boiler, consider replacing your boiler with a newer, more efficient model.
Electric storage heaters
Most UK homes that don’t have a boiler and radiators use electric storage heaters. These heat up overnight using cheaper off-peak electricity, and then give out the heat during the day. Electric storage heating is more common in flats, in rented properties and in homes with no mains gas connection.
Electric storage heating is one of the most expensive heating options in the UK. It also emits more carbon dioxide than most alternatives. It is harder to control the temperature of electric storage heaters than it is with radiators – especially with the older systems.
If you have storage heaters, you will probably also have a hot water cylinder heated by one or two immersion heaters. So, if you have a system like this, you have several options for improvements:
- Install new, more controllable storage heaters.
- Fit thermostats and controls to make your existing system more efficient.
- Consider making insulation and draught-proofing improvements.
- Replace your system with an efficient boiler system.
Non-standard heating systems
Radiators or storage heaters provide the main heating in the vast majority of houses in the UK. However, a number of different technologies can be used instead, or in addition to these, including underfloor heating, solid fuel stoves, range cookers, open fires, electric fires and gas fires.