The right heating controls will let you keep your home at a comfortable temperature without wasting fuel or heat, so you’ll reduce your carbon dioxide emissions and spend less on heating bills.
A room thermostat, be it a simple or fully programmable wireless model is a vital part of your central heating system. Unfortunately many people often find them confusing and struggle to program them the way they would really like, which means that the heating system is not running at its most efficient.
It is a good idea to upgrade or install new heating controls if they are over 12 years old, newer thermostats are much more energy efficient than they used to be. Room Thermostats A thermostat is essentially a built in thermometer and on/off switch combined, and the right controls will let you set your heating and hot water to come on and off when you need them. A room thermostat works by measuring the surrounding air temperature and adjusting boiler operation to suit the selected temperature, heat just the areas of your home you want, and decide how warm you want each area to be.
Room thermostats sense the temperature via the flow of air, so to maintain accurate readings ensure they are not put near heat sources or blocked by furniture or curtains.
For the best energy efficient home, you should set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature. Try turning your thermostat down a degree or two and seeing if you still feel comfortable.
Also, you don’t need to turn your thermostat up when it is colder outside, the house will heat up to the set temperature whatever the weather. It may take a little longer on colder days, so you might want to set your heating to come on earlier in the winter.
Digital or Mechanical thermostats A mechanical or digital room thermostat generally refers to the way in which the temperature is recorded within the thermostat.
In simple terms a mechanical thermostat works much like a normal mercury based thermometer, whereas a digital one works using a thermistor which then converts the readings into an accurate digital readout.
A mechanical thermostat often maintains temperatures higher than required due to their inherent inaccuracy. If the room temperature is 1°C higher than the set-point, you are potentially using up to 10% more energy.
Conversely when the heating is off, mechanical thermostats are slow to respond and the room temperature can fall between 3-5°C before the heating comes back on, making occupants uncomfortable.
Digital technology has helped to improve the accuracy of temperature measurement and therefore control. Accuracy of greater than 1°C is the norm. Rooms rarely exceed the target temperature and energy use is therefore minimised. Conversely the heating comes back on as soon as the temperature falls maintaining an energy efficient temperature and keeping occupants comfortable.
Cylinder thermostat If your hot water is stored in a cylinder, a cylinder thermostat controls the heat supply from the boiler to the hot water cylinder. Once the water has reached the temperature you have set, the heat supply from the boiler will be turned off. Turning a cylinder thermostat to a higher setting will not make the water heat up any faster, how quickly the water heats up depends on the design of the heating system.
It is generally cheaper to heat hot water only when you require it. If a cylinder is properly insulated, hot water will keep hot for up to 12 hours, so set the boiler to operate at times when you need to draw off large amounts of hot water. Cylinder thermostats have temperature scales marked. You should set them at around 65ºC, this is hot enough to kill off any bacteria in the water, but it’s also not hot enough to scald.
Time switch A separate hot water time switch will let you heat the right amount of water at the right time, and take advantage of off-peak Economy 7/10 tariffs. By signing up to one of these tariffs, and setting the timer to heat water at a cheaper, off-peak rate, you will use less electricity and save money. Set your water to heat up only when you need it: keeping it constantly hot uses energy. The better insulated your tank, the longer your water will stay hot. Boiler thermostat Your boiler will usually have a dial on it, marked in numbers or from Min to Max. This thermostat controls the temperature of the water that is sent from the boiler around the radiators in your home. The higher it is, the quicker and more effectively the heating system will heat your home.
If you have a room thermostats and thermostatic valves fitted to radiators, you can set the boiler thermostat quite high, letting the room controls manage each room.
Programmable Room Thermostats The main additional feature of a programmable thermostat over a conventional room thermostat is the ability to set different temperatures at different times of the day, known as comfort levels. By offering greater control and flexibility in the number of possible temperature set-points, a programmable room thermostat provides a better match to the occupants lifestyle and personal requirements.
If you insulate your home, it will warm up more quickly and cool down more slowly, so you’ll save money on heating. By being able to actually program different comfort levels throughout the day it not only enables full control over your heating requirements but it is also a great way to improve energy efficiency. Also, most models will let you set the central heating and domestic hot water to go on and off at different times, and there may also be manual overrides.
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