Get efficient heating

Get Efficient Heating

Space heating and hot water account for 60% of the average fuel bill so this is an area where you could both save  lots of money and make a big impact on your carbon footprint.

  • Firstly, try to keep as much of that heat as possible in the house through insulation. This will reduce the amount of heat you need to use in the first place.
  • Secondly, aim to generate it as efficiently and cheaply as possible, for example by having an efficient boiler.
  • Thirdly, make best use of your heating system by installing, understanding and using heating controls.

Across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire people heat their homes using a variety of fuels. The information below is split into three sections, one each on homes heated by gas, electricity and oil or LPG. There is also information on renewable heating systems in our Generating Your Own Energy section.

On Gas?

A gas heating system is the most efficient way of heating your home. Boilers are rated like fridges and cars on an A-G rating system - A is best. If your boiler is 15 years or older you should consider changing it. Moving from G to A could save you up to £350 on your annual heating bill.  

Condensing? Combi? Confused?!

All new boilers are condensing boilers by law. This means they have a larger heat exchange which recovers some of the heat that would otherwise escape up the flue. This makes them really efficient.

Not all new boilers are combis. You can still choose between a combi boiler and a boiler with a hot water tank.

  • A combi boiler does not have a hot water tank, instead heating water on demand. It is often the best option for a smaller household or a home with only two or three people. However, it won’t work in conjunction with a solar thermal hot water system.
  • A system with a hot water tank heats water and stores it in the tank. This is often the best option for a larger household or where there are more people in the house. Some people prefer this option because it gives you an airing cupboard.

If you need to replace your boiler you should check if you are eligible for an ECO grant towards the cost.

Control Your Heating

Controls help you save energy by making sure you’re the one telling your house where, when and how hot you want it rather than your house controlling you. The main controls you can get if you have a gas-powered central heating system are:

  • Room Thermostats: all new boilers include these by law
  • A Programmer for the house
  • Thermostatic Radiator Valves for each radiator

You can either install these at the same time as a new boiler or have them fitted at any other time. If you are competent at DIY you could installed TRV’s yourself. Otherwise, and for room thermostats and programmers, get a professional to install them.

Make sure you understand how your controls work. Ask the person installing them to show you, keep the instructions that come with them, or look them up online if you don’t have them. A few simple tips:

  • Try turning your room thermostat down by 1°C and see if you’re still warm enough – this will save around 10% on your heating bill.
  • Leave the thermostat set at a suitable temperature (21°C  for most people, 25°C if you have a long-term sick or elderly person in the house) Do not use it to switch your heating on and off; this is what the programmer is for.
  • Use thermostatic radiator valves (TRV’s) to turn down the heating in rooms that aren’t used, such as a spare bedroom or the hallway.
  • Don’t leave the heating on all the time on low. Instead, set the programmer to turn the heating on half an hour before you need it, and to turn it off half an hour before you no longer need it. If you’re not convinced of this, read this article and try out the test it suggests.
  • If you have a hot water cylinder set it to a maximum of 60°C (140°F). See the Insulation page for more information on insulating hot water systems.

Off Gas?

If you are off gas you could consider biomass or a heat pump. See our section on Generating Your Own Energy for more information.

If you use oil or LPG to heat your home, then consider joining a local bulk purchase scheme. This allows you to save on your energy bills by purchasing your oil or LPG at the same time as lots of other people near you to get a lower price. There are three local schemes:

Have Electric Storage Heaters?

Some homes, especially modern flats and rented homes, use electric storage heaters. These can be harder to control than other types of heating and more expensive to run. If your storage heaters are old then you should consider replacing them with more modern heaters that are easier to control.

It is vital to understand the controls on a storage heater if you are going to make the most of them. Watch this short video for more advice.