Is it best leave your heating on constant?
When it comes to heating our homes, we have differing opinions on when to turn the heating on, when to turn it off, how high or low the temperature should be, and how long the heating should be on for each day. Let’s bust a myth; according to the Energy Saving Trust, it’s not cheaper to leave your heating on low all day. In fact, turning on your heating only when you need it on actually saves energy, and therefore saves money, too.
What is the ideal temperature to heat your home?Fifty years ago, the average temperature in the home was around 12°C; today, it’s around 18°C. So, what’s the reason for the increase? Well, the main reason is that our homes are better insulated, central heating now exists in 95% of houses in the UK, not to mention double glazing and underfloor heating. Another reason for the rise in the average room temperature is down to our health and well-being. Both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Energy Saving Trust advise that the lowest room temperature in winter should be around 18°C. This temperature means that not only is it a comfortable level of warmth, but it also helps to combat climate change. A study by Richard Moore, a housing expert, specified how some temperatures can physically impact our health
- Below 9°C – there is a risk of hypothermia.
- 9°-12°C – there is a risk of stroke or heart attack.
- 12°-16°C – there is a risk of respiratory problems.
- 16°-18°C – feel a small level of discomfort and the possibility of low health risks.
- 18°-21°C – the temperature is comfortable.
- 21°-24°C – feel an increasing level of discomfort.
- 24°C and above – there is a risk of cardiovascular stroke and heart attack.
Whilst these temperatures are not set in stone – we’re all different – it is believed there is a genuine risk to your health if the temperature in your home is too low or too high.
How long should your heating be on?
It is recommended that you do not have your heating on 24/7. Not only will it result in an extremely high heating bill, it also means an excessive use of energy which has a negative impact on the environment. In the UK, most homes are heated for around eight hours a day in winter, on average. But this fluctuates between seven hours and 10 hours depending on how many hours you are in the house.
For example, for a single person or a couple that are out at work all day, it’s not actually necessary to have the heating on when you aren’t at home. In this scenario, set the heating to come on about half an hour before you get up in the morning, and turn it off about half an hour before you are due to leave the house for work.
If you are a family, but both adults work during the day, set the heating to come on half an hour before you all get up and to come on again from mid-afternoon (when one adult and your children arrive home from school and work). Even if you are at home all day, it is still recommended that you have two set heating periods during the day.
According to Ovo Energy, approximately 70% of homes in the UK that have central heating opt for two heating periods a day, although this is sometimes boosted when the weather gets icy in winter.
Even if you are away from home for any length of time, such as on a holiday during winter, don’t be tempted to turn off the heating altogether. Set your heating to come on twice a day, but perhaps reduce the time the heating is on.
How to control the heating in your home?Of course, not all rooms in the house are heated to the same temperature. For example, the bathroom can be at a higher temperature to avoid freezing feet when getting out of the shower or bath. The best way to heat a bathroom is either with a heated towel rail or radiator, or underfloor heating which is becoming very popular. Your living room should be around 19°C to 22°C, which is a comfortable temperature for spending time with the family in the evening. But, when it comes to the bedrooms, the temperature should be lower at 15°C to 20°C. Remember that most of the time you spend in the bedroom will be asleep under duvets which will keep you warm – some people use heated (electric) blankets and bed throws to add warmth. There are a variety of tools you can install to help you heat your rooms individually and effectively, saving energy and money.
- Programmers – also known as timers, they allow you to set the time your heating comes on and goes off. Most modern digital programmers have a screen, which makes it easy to set, but there are some older-style timers whereby you have to move a dial. Some of the latest programmers allow you to set different times for Saturday and Sunday.
- Room thermostats – thermostats are generally installed in the living room or even in a hallway and they work by monitoring the temperature in the house. When it has reached the optimum level you’ve set on the thermostat, it sends a signal to your central heating boiler to switch off the heating, and vice versa. Some of the more modern controls for heating combine programmers and thermostats.
- Thermostatic radiator valves – these valves are fitted to your radiators and allow you to control the temperature in individual rooms. They work by regulating the flow of water that goes through the radiator. For example, the radiator valves in your living room can be set higher than your bedroom.
- Smart heating controls – a growing trend are smart heating controls that can be used via smartphones and tablets. The heating provider’s smart app means you can control your heating, and hot water, remotely but you must have internet or 4G connection. The latest heating apps incorporate the most up-to-date technology that will automatically judge when you are close to home and turn on the heating or reduce it as you move away from home. Some apps are highly sensitive and can manage your heating according to the weather forecast, but with the way the weather doesn’t always match the forecast in the UK, maybe that’s not such a good idea!
We’ve come a long way in 50 years; heating our homes has become much easier and more efficient. There are so many great ways to save energy and reduce our impact on the climate. What’s even better, we can also save money on our annual heating bills.
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