Households are overlooking a simple, cost-effective way to save energy

Are households overlooking a simple and cost-effective way to save energy and cut fuel bills?

There’s no shortage of advice on ways to save energy, but most require a huge capital outlay. Few householders will ever recoup costs through energy savings.

By contrast, improving the controls on a central heating system costs very little and the costs is quickly recovered through energy savings. As 84% of domestic energy is used for heating and hot water, simply upgrading existing heating controls with the new products is a very easy and cost effective way to save energy and cut fuel bills – much more cost effective than replacing a boiler.

Why we need controls
Everyone wants a comfortably warm home, without spending more on fuel than necessary.  So a heating system needs a set of controls to ensure the right temperatures, in the right places, at the right time.  They also help the boiler operate to its maximum efficiency.

The basics of a control system are a room thermostat to maintain the air temperature at a comfortable level, and a timer to switch it on and off automatically, as required.  Where the system provides space heating and hot water stored in cylinder, the timer should be able to switch the heating and hot water independently of each other.

The room thermostat has two functions.  First, it regulates the heating to maintain the temperature set by the user. Second, it provides a boiler interlock: that means it stops the boiler when the radiators (or underfloor heating) are not calling for heat.

Most homes found lacking
Most homes lack the minimum set of controls required for energy efficiency and to enable the boiler to operate to its rated efficiency.  If your heating system is over four years old, it’s likely the controls are substandard and a controls upgrade will cut fuel bills.

According to TACMA (The Association of Controls Manufacturers):

  • 80% of UK homes don’t have controls to the minimum standard required for new installations under current Building Regulations
  • 8½ million homes (40% of the total) don’t even have a room thermostat
  • A third of homes with a condensing boiler lack the room thermostat which is essential for it to work efficiently

Households are often told they can save 10% of energy by turning the room thermostat down by one degree. But this is impossible in the 8½ million homes that don’t have one!

Replace the controls and save money
It makes sense to replace substandard controls with the latest energy efficient types, which allow you to reduce energy consumption and make the home more comfortable. Does your heating system have a room thermostat?  If there is one, is it an old type with simple on/off control?  The latest digital models are much more energy efficient.  Is there are timer to switch the heating and hot water on only when necessary? If your timer is old, you can save energy with a new digital model that delays the boiler start time depending on the prevailing temperature.

The latest energy efficient controls will quickly pay for themselves by saving fuel costs – and your home will be more comfortable.

Upgrades are easy with wireless
Control upgrades are simple and quick when you choose wireless controls: there are no control cables to run or connect, no cable holes to drill, so no mess. There is no disruption and no damage to the décor.

I replaced our home heating controls myself, using a wireless controls kit. I’m not a heating installer or an electrician, but I had the benefit of having written numerous articles and press releases on the subject!

I’m not suggesting you do the same. But you have nothing to lose by requesting a visit by a heating systems specialist to look at your existing controls, and how they might be upgraded to save energy and improve comfort.

My own experiences
Click here to read about the eight ways the new controls in my own home potentially save energy and make the home more comfortable.

Click here to see how I replaced our old mechanical thermostat and timer with energy saving models that communicate wirelessly.

Royer Slater
August 2011

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