Home heating

Taking control of your heating

It's not always easy to know how to get all the rooms as warm as you want, when you want.

Simple principles

Think of your heating as like sitting in a warm bath without the plug in, trying to keep it at a constant temperature. You can keep warm with the hot tap running, but if you put a plug in you can slow it down or turn off the tap. So think about where you're losing heat as well as how you put heat into
the home.

This principle is summed up in 3 simple steps:

1. Stop leaking heat

Insulating your loft and walls are two of the quickest and most effective ways of making your home warmer and cheaper to heat.

  • Loft: 270mm of loft insulation is usually recommended in order to maximise your energy efficiency. If you already have insulation, you may find that you need some top-up insulation. If you want to store items in your loft, you could also consider boarded insulation to provide some usable space.
  • Walls: Cavity or solid walls are most common in the UK. If the house was built after the 1920s, it's likely to have cavity walls. You can usually tell if your home has already had cavity wall insulation if you can see drill holes on the outside filled with mortar. More modern homes - after 1990 - are likely to have been built with cavity wall insulation.

What work is involved?

  • Loft: Loft insulation usually takes just a few hours and is laid between and over ceiling joists. All you need to do is ensure that you have a clear loft, unless you opt for our clearance and loft boarding service.
  • Walls: Usually small holes are drilled into the outside walls and insulation is blown into them. Once finished the installer will fill the holes with mortar (closely matching the colour of existing mortar). On average an installation takes just 2 to 3 hours. To check your walls are suitable for cavity wall insulation in the first instance, a technician will need to drill 2 or 3 very small holes in the outside walls.

How much difference would it make?

Find out what improved insulation could do for your bills:

2. Only use what you need

You can save energy and money from having the right boiler system and radiators to suit your home and lifestyle, and making sure controls and settings are right for what you need.

Boilers:

The cost of heating comprises around 60% of the average energy bill each year, so efficiency is key. Ensuring that you have the right kind of boiler will also maximise your satisfaction with your heating system. There are several types of condensing boiler:

  • A Combination (or ‘combi’) boiler - this heats the hot water as you need it. There are no storage tanks as the boiler is connected directly to the water mains;
  • System boiler - the boiler works together with a hot-water cylinder but may not need tanks (usually in the loft) as the system can be filled directly from the water mains;
  • Open-vent boiler - traditional systems that are normally found in older houses. They work alongside a separate hot-water cylinder (usually found in the airing cupboard) and need tanks (normally in the loft) to store cold water.

Radiators:

These come with a range of heat outputs and should be sized correctly for each room. This depends on the size of the rooms and windows, whether you have double glazing and the types of walls, flooring and insulation.

Heating controls:

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) control the temperature of each of your radiators; installing a room thermostat also prevents your home getting warmer than it needs to be.

You may want to consider the latest smart heating controls, which allow you to control and programme your heating and hot water from your smartphone wherever you are. These devices know how long your home takes to warm up and cool down, so only heat it when needed; they also allow you to set different temperatures for different times of the day.

What work is involved?

An energy advisor or heating engineer will be able to advise you what work would be involved, depending on your home and specific needs.

How much difference would it make?

3. Generate your own

Look for ways of generating your own energy. Find out more

What to do next

Or if you're interested in a particular improvement click on the following links to find out what it could do for your bills:

If you live in the Bristol area, why not talk to our Energy Efficiency advisor? They can provide advice and services that help you give your home a comfortable temperature, balanced with an understanding of the cost of doing this and the choices you can make.

Back to the Energy Efficiency home page