It’s yet another cold, snowy winter in the UK and although we won’t be reaching for the sunscreen anytime soon, it would appear the worst of the weather is over.
But how should we let the slowly rising temperatures outside affect how we heat our homes? Should we have our radiators on less now the snow has melted? How can we save energy and improve the efficiency of our central heating systems?
¯¨Let’s look at some of advice and tips on how to stay warm without breaking the bank, as well as some of the more unusual methods that have gained attention this winter.
Turn down or turn off?
There has been some debate among heating experts about whether it is best to turn your heating system off when it’s not needed and have it on for several hours a day when you are at home, or to keep your heating on constantly, but at a lower temperature.
Advocates for the former say you can’t possibly save money by having your heating on 24 hours a day and on the face of it, that seems to make sense, so where does this idea come from?
Those who suggest leaving your heating on say boilers use more power when heating cold radiators. Although this may be true, the energy advisory web site uSwitch says the cost is greatly exceeded by the cost of keeping the boiler running all the time – even at a low temperature. It advises people to set their heating to come on shortly before it will be needed, such as before you get up in the morning, or when you come home from work, and go off again when you won’t be in the house.
A way to foil the cold?
Another tip doing the rounds is the idea that placing some tin foil down the back of your radiator in order to reflect heat back into the room, rather than letting it escape through the wall. Some advocate attaching it to cardboard for a better fit and many have spoken online of the difference it has made to their rooms.
You can also buy specialist radiator foil, which is fixed in place with adhesive pads or wallpaper paste, from most DIY stores, though the Energy Saving Trust claims having foil behind a radiator won’t have an effect if you have cavity wall insulation in your home.
With different people saying different things about keeping warm and being energy efficient, it can be difficult to know who to believe, so it’s important to remember the basics – don’t avoid putting your heating on purely to save money. Sitting in a cold house can be dangerous so it is important to keep warm. Also, saving energy in other areas will allow you to have your heating on more and make the most of its use – turn off electrical appliances that are not in use and keep windows and doors shut to prevent heat escaping outside and to unoccupied rooms.