We all like to think that we know our heating system inside out and that we know how to use it properly to get the best out of it and to keep our homes and families safe and warm. However, you may well be making one or more of these common – and potentially very expensive – mistakes every winter. If you spot one you’re guilty of, then you could save quite a lot of money this winter by quitting the habit straight away!
Setting the thermostat up high so your heating warms up faster
Here’s the news – this just doesn’t work! What will happen instead is that your heating will work harder and for longer to achieve the higher temperature, rather than reaching your ideal temperature quicker. Warming a house up isn’t like driving to a destination faster. Instead of getting to your ideal temperature of 20C quicker, your heating will be at full pelt for quite a while longer until it reaches, say, 24C. Once you’re at 24C, chances are you’ll be too hot anyway and you’ll open a window, letting out all that heat that your boiler worked so hard to produce in the first place!
Setting the thermostat on high when it’s especially cold outside
One in two households is guilty of this mistake, especially households with youngsters in, as they don’t seem to like putting on a sweater or shutting doors! Instead of wearing an extra layer, they’ll whack up the temperature right over the odds because it’s snowing outside or because it’s windy. Then, they have the audacity to wander around dressed as if they’re on a Brazilian beach!
Your thermostat is designed to keep your home at a set temperature, so if you aim for 21C, your boiler will work to achieve this and you should be more than comfortable. Turning it up to 24C or more because you think the cold outside will prevent your heating from reaching 21C is just wasted energy. If you’ve managed to buy some bargain home heating oil in NI then this is one mistake you need to stop making right now!
Having the heating on low all day, every day
Around one in three homes in the UK tries this trick every year, but it never works. What happens is that heat is being produced when the house is empty, so no-one’s there to actually appreciate it – not that there’s much heat to appreciate anyway, as the thermostat is set to low. Then, when everyone’s in and is feeling chilly, no-one dares to turn up the thermostat to a more comfortable temperature because the heating has been on all day already!
The way around this is simply to use a timer to turn on the heating 30 minutes (or whatever works best for you) before everyone’s home. You can also set the heating to turn on half an hour before everyone gets up in the morning. This means that you’re probably using roughly the same amount of fuel every day, but that the heat is being produced at the times you actually need it. If you’re worried about pets getting cold, make sure they have a cosy basket with high sides and even a “roof” to snuggle up in while you’re out.
Leaving the immersion heater running all day so there’s always hot water
No-one likes running out of hot water, but almost one in three families believes that by leaving the immersion heater on all the time will mean this never happens. Wrong! No matter how long the immersion heater is left on, there’s only a set amount of water – the volume of the tank – that will be heated. Using a timer to heat up your water before you get up and again before you return home is the solution.
It’s also a good idea to install an insulation jacket on your hot water tanks and to lag your hot water pipes, so that the heated water stays hot for as long as possible. For small amounts of hot water, say for hand washing or for doing a small amount of washing up, boil a kettle. Installing a dishwasher will also help you to reduce the need for hot water from the taps, as well as saving you lots of time.