As we head into the colder months, central heating systems play an important role in keeping us warm. However, while turning on the heating does use more energy, there are ways to keep control of the associated costs.
Boilers may be where homes use the most gas, but there are some straightforward steps that you can follow to ensure your boilers are as efficient as possible.
To explain: a boiler’s energy efficiency is a percentage of total energy used to provide heating, with the extra energy being lost out of the flue. For example, a boiler with 94% efficiency sees only 6% of its energy not being used to heat your home. That would mean for every £1 spent, only 6p is wasted. So, the more efficient your boiler is, the less fuel it will need to deliver the same amount of heat and the more cost effective it is.
Newer boilers are generally more efficient, with condensing boilers typically losing 10% less than older, non-condensing boilers. After around 10-15 years it is worth considering upgrading to a newer model. However, don’t worry if you do have an older boiler, as what matters is that it is running as efficiently as possible. The tips below outline some of the ways you can improve your boiler’s efficiency.
How can I make my boiler more efficient?
1. Lower your temperature setting
If you have a combi boiler, one way of reducing energy consumption is to lower your boiler flow temperature. This is different to setting the temperature on your thermostat; instead, the boiler flow temperature is the temperature of the water that leaves the boiler to go to the radiators.
Reducing the flow temperature could help the boiler run more efficiently and help to save energy. Although traditional heating systems were designed for a flow temperature of 80°C, they can operate at a lower temperature. It may take a few tries to find the optimum setting for your house, however, we recommend turning the flow temperature down to around 60°C. To do this on Ideal boilers, look for the dial with the radiator symbol, then turn this dial down until the number on the screen shows the flow temperature you want.
Reducing the flow temperature down to 60°C on a modern condensing combi boiler will make it run in condensing mode and maximise its operating efficiency. Reduce the flow temperature and monitor how your heating runs over the next couple of days. If your rooms are taking a long time to warm up, or they’re not getting warm, then just tweak your flow temperature up a little bit until it is comfortable.
2. Insulate your pipes and cylinder
An easy way to reduce energy consumption is through insulation. You can do this by fitting foam tubes around your pipes to reduce heat loss and keep water hotter for longer. Similarly, if you have an older hot water cylinder, you can also insulate the cylinder itself for the same purpose.
Make sure that any insulation you purchase is a safe material for that use by asking an expert at point of sale.
3. Book an annual service
It’s not only cars that need servicing to keep them up to scratch. Having your boiler serviced each year will help to keep it in peak operating condition so that minor faults do not develop. Annual checks will also make sure that boiler performance is optimised to ensure the most efficient energy consumption.
A service must be performed by a Gas Safe Registered engineer or OFTEC technician (oil).
4. Keep your boiler clean and consider a system cleanse
Having your system cleaned by an expert can help improve your boiler’s efficiency by eliminating sludge, rust, and debris. This involves flushing your system and refilling with clean water and protection chemicals to prevent corrosion. If you are looking at replacing your boiler, ensure a system filter is fitted as part of the installation.
5. A summer switch on
Although we’re heading into the colder months, it’s also worth considering energy saving tips you can keep in mind all year round. For instance, in summer you can switch on your heating for up to 15 minutes a week as it can reduce the risk of your boiler seizing up and expensive breakdowns after being switched off for months at a time.
For help in finding a Gas Safe registered engineer in your area, click here.