It is a debate that has raged for decades: is it more economical to leave your heating on low all day long, even if you are out of the house, or is it better to switch it on only during the times you are home?
What the Experts Say
The simple fact is that no home has insulation that is 100% effective, which means heat is constantly being lost to the outside world. If you leave your heating on all day long, you will be paying for warmth you won’t be able to benefit from. For this reason, experts at the Energy Saving Trust − a charity that carries out independent research into energy use − and researchers at British Gas both say it is better to heat your home only when necessary.
This is due to the fact that when the temperature outside your home is lower than the temperature inside your home, your heating system will be working hard to maintain the inside temperature and prevent the house getting too cold. Having good quality insulation in the cavity walls and loft of your home, along with double- or triple-glazed windows and draught-proofed windows and doors, will ensure that heat is lost from your home as slowly as possible. This means your home will heat up faster and you will be able to keep your heating on for less time, reducing the amount you need to spend.
The Key to Heating your Home
The key to heating your home in the most efficient way possible is having the right thermostat. The most basic models simply switch your heating on and off at particular times twice a day; however, this is only really suitable if you live by a strict regime and return to your house at the exact same time every day. More modern thermostats allow you to programme different temperatures for different times of day and for your heating to come on later − or earlier − at the weekend, depending on what you have planned.
It is also important to ensure the temperature is always set to the lowest level you are comfortable with, as this will lower your bills. Reducing your thermostat by just 1°C can cut your annual heating bill by as much as 8%.
Fitting individual temperature controls on radiators means you can have your central heating on without wasting excess energy to warm rooms that you are not using. Pairing such advanced controls with a combi boiler that only heats water when you switch on the hot tap means you can be sure you are making the most efficient use of your central heating system.
For maximum efficiency, you will also need to make sure your central heating system is working at the optimum level and that all the key components, such as pumps and booster units, are of the highest quality. You will find a wide range of pumps and accessories from all the leading manufacturers at Pump Sales Direct.
If you are looking for the ultimate in control, the very latest smart thermostats allow you to regulate your heating system from your tablet, smartphone or computer. If you are running late one day, or get home early, you can arrive at a house that is nice and warm without worrying about heating up an empty space.
Those who advocate keeping the heating on all day say doing so means they never have to worry about being chilly. Although this is certainly true, if your overall focus is on keeping your heating bills as low as possible, having your heating come on when you need it and switch off when you do not is the very best way to keep your costs low. Fitting a programmable thermostat or using a smart system gets round the issue of feeling cold while you wait for your home to warm up.
If you are still uncertain about the best possible option, or don’t want to invest in a more sophisticated thermostat, you can always test things for yourself. Choose two weeks when the weather and temperature are roughly consistent. During week one leave the heating on constantly, and during the second switch it on only when you are home. Take a meter reading at the beginning and end of each week and compare the figures to see which method is most cost effective.