Why have controls?

Controlling your heating effectively is just as important as ensuring your house is well-insulated and draught-free. There are an increasing number of sophisticated control options available, however even basic thermostats and controllers do a good job if you learn how to use them properly.

How do they work?

Thermostats allow you to set a target temperature, usually for the house as a whole, but they can be fitted for each floor or even in individual rooms. More sophisticated thermostats can be programmed for different temperatures according to the time of day. Start by setting 18 degreee Centigrade unless you are old or unwell, then adjust to find the minimum temperature that you find comfortable. Each degree C difference could add or subtract 10% from your gas bill.

Programmers control the times when your heating, and possibly your hot water too, go on and off. Typically they allow you to create a number of on/off periods each day – usually one set for weekdays, and another for weekends. They should be set to turn on half an hour before you get up or return home and turn off half an hour before bedtime or leaving home.

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) act as thermostats for each radiator, allowing different temperatures to be set in each room using a dial on the TRV head. A setting of ‘1’ is suitable for unused rooms, ‘1’-‘2’ for bedrooms and kitchens, ‘2’-‘3’ for living rooms and ‘3’ for bathrooms.

Boiler controls allow you to control how hot your radiators get and sometimes your hot water temperature too. If you have a separate central heating dial then it can be turned down in milder weather to help the boiler run more efficiently.

Boiler thermostats control your hot water cylinder temperature – they should be set no higher than 60 degrees C, but always at least 5 degrees C lower than the hot water output temperature of your boiler (otherwise your boiler pump will never stop running).

Costs and savings

Installing a room thermostat and seven thermostatic radiator valves would cost around £350 but could save you between £70 and £150 a year.

WinACC November 2014

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