As fuel prices rocket and temperatures plummet, finding easy ways to save energy is high on everyone’s list.
Yet research shows that nearly a third of us are missing out on one of the simplest energy and money saving opportunities – simply turning our heating thermostat down
Between 18 and 21°C is enough to keep our homes at a comfortable temperature but the study shows that 32 per cent of us permanently crank the heating thermostat above this recommended figure, potentially overheating the rooms and spending more than necessary on our fuel bills.
Even of those who fell into recommended category, the highest proportion (20 per cent) opted for the top end of a scale and set the dial at 20 to 21°C, so even here savings can be made.
Turning your thermostat down just one degree can see savings of up to 10 per cent a year on fuel bills.
So with the average household heating bill expected to reach £1,400 next year, the benefit of keeping the thermostat down soon adds up.
The World Health Organisation suggests that 18°C is a suitable figure for healthy people who are appropriately dressed. It recommends a minimum of 20°C for anyone who is sick, disabled, very old or very young and a minimum of 16°C for anyone with allergies or respiratory conditions.
Over 35 per cent of those questioned across the country also admitted to constantly changing the temperature throughout the day depending on how hot or cold they feel, often creating a higher temperature than needed. Six per cent even confessed to opening a window with the heating still on as the room as got too hot.
Martyn Bridges of the Worcester, Bosch group which commissioned the research, said: “With recent news from energy companies increasing bills by around 10 per cent, it is more importantthan ever to think about how we can all be more energy efficient. In fact recent headlines havesuggested we are in for 17 years of constant price increases and that in the last three years fuel bills have risen eight times more than the price of inflation.
“People so often assume they have to carry out larger projects to make a difference to their home but as with so many things it is often a small change that can make a big difference.
“We all have our habits, and how we set and use our heating is certainly one of them. Breaking
this is the hardest part so if you feel you have your thermostat set too high it can be worth trying to turn it down by one degree.
For many of us this won’t actually affect our comfort – some people may not even notice a difference – but it is one of those small changes that could make a big impact on heating bills.
“The value of getting the correct heating controls is also often overlooked. Particularly with older properties where boiler controls and radiator thermostats may be not have been installed, adding the correct controls for your heating system could increase the efficiency of a condensing boiler by up to 13 per cent, as it doesn’t have to do any more work than it needs to.”
Other top tips from Worcester making the most of our heating without overspending include:
Use your radiator controls on the radiator rather than reaching for the thermostat. This can increase the heat where you need it and reduce it where you don’t.
Don’t assume all areas of your home need to be the same temperature. Living areas should be between 18–21°C to suit your comfort level but bedrooms can be slightly lower at around 16-18°C.
Be in control - the survey highlighted 17 per cent of homeowners do not have thermostatic controls. If replacing the boiler with a more efficient model is out of the question, a thermostat can be retrofitted with a Gas Safe Register qualified installer.
Keep it clear - don’t cover radiators with furniture or long curtains. This will block a surprising amount of heat and stop it circulating around the room.
Drying clothes on the radiator will make your boiler work harder and make the airmore humid and feel colder.
Old isn’t always wise - whether we like it or not, upgrading an ageing boiler is one of the most efficient things we can do in the home to save on our bills. An old, inefficient boiler of 15 years or more is only around 60 to 70 per cent efficient, meaning that for every pound spent on fuel, as much as 40p is wasted. Older boilers are also likely to have a standing pilot light which could cost in the region of £50-60 per year to keep going. Updating your heating system to an ‘A’ rated condensing boiler could make your system over 90 per cent efficient.
Don’t forget the service – Worcester’s research also revealed that over 50 per cent of those questioned admitted they did not have their boiler serviced annually – five per cent said they had never had their boiler serviced.
Even a new boiler will need to be serviced when it reaches its 1st anniversary to ensure all parts are clear and working as efficiently as possible. Where older boilers are concerned a service can help spot and rectify any problems before it causes you to be left without heat right when you need it.
A service typically costs around £70 - £100 depending on the installer and takes under an hour.
And it’s not only homes that can save on energy bills as Worcester also found the average office temperature of 23°C.
By turning down the heat to 22°C, an office building the size of the Gherkin could potentially save a staggering £47,950 each year, not to mention significantly reducing its carbon footprint.