How to reduce energy bills this winter: boiler, radiator and thermostat tips from a heating expert

As temperatures plummet across the UK, it’s harder than ever to keep energy bills low - but here’s some expert advice covering boilers, radiators and thermostats

The typical household energy bill has been capped at £2,500 this year, but that will be increasing in 2023 to £3,000 - and with snow falling over the UK over the past weekend, with temperatures plunging to -15.6C in certain areas - families and homeowners will be looking for ways to stay comfortably warm while also saving on their energy bills.

Here you will find five tips from Rebecca Davies, an energy expert at RD Heat, to use for your boiler, thermostat and radiator that will help keep energy prices low but temperatures comfortably high in your home.

Turn down the flow temperature on your condensing boiler

Boilers only need to be at their highest setting during extremely cold temperatures -otherwise you will be driving up your bills unnecessarily. However, the Met Office has issued extreme cold weather warnings this week, which means many households will be resorting to increasing the temperature of their boilers.

If you are using a condensing boiler, having the settings turned up so high could mean that your boiler is not even condensing. Make sure your condensing boiler temperature is not running too high by reducing the temperature of your radiator anywhere between 60-65C, which will allow your boiler to run far more efficiently.

Lowering the radiator temperature will ensure that the water running through the system is actually condensing, returning to the boiler at around 50C which will allow for condensation to form. By reducing the temperature of the water that is circulating through your radiators you could potentially save yourself up to 8%. On the current average UK yearly energy bill of £2,500, you could save around £200.

Time your heating

One of the simplest - but just as effective - ways to save on your energy bills is by making sure that the heating is not being used when you are not in the house or when you are asleep by timing or programming your radiators to turn on and turn off at different times of the day.

For example, a programmer allows you to set different temperatures at different times and on different days throughout the week - this allows you to time your heating around your weekly routine. Ameter can let you override your normal heating schedule if you are unsure what time you will be returning from work, chores or an event.

Use your thermostat smartly

How you use your thermostat is very important to the price of your energy bills. In fact, a one-degree change in your thermostat represents a 10% increase in your annual heating bill.

This understandably seems like a concerning statistic, but it is important to find a temperature that you are comfortable with in terms of your quality of living as well as for financial reasons.

Only set the thermostat to what you need. The best way to find your temperature is to set your thermostat to 18 degrees and then turn it up by one degree every day until you find the perfect temperature that you are comfortable with.

Furthermore, make sure your thermostat is not covered by curtains or furniture as it needs access to clear air to get an accurate temperature reading.

Update all of your boiler’s controls

If you have an older boiler model installed in your home, you may be spending more on heating your home than actually required.Rather than replacing a full boiler, which can be very costly, a more affordable alternative is replacing the boiler’s controls.

Newer heating controls can give a far more accurate reading than your old controls, and can even reduce the carbon footprint of your home by 320kg every year. Although it will not make as drastic a difference as replacing an entire boiler, by updating your heating controls you can save money on your bills. These heating controls include:

  • Timer
  • Programmer
  • Weather compensating thermostat
  • Load compensating thermostat
  • Room thermostat
  • Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
  • Smart thermostatic heating system
Home energy saving tips. (Graphic: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)
Home energy saving tips. (Graphic: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)
Home energy saving tips. (Graphic: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)

Maintain your radiator system by cleaning it regularly

One affordable way of making sure that your heating system is working efficiently is simply making sure that your radiator systems are clean. This can be done by bleeding the radiator into one of the containers on your valves or into a small transparent container; the dirtier the water the dirtier your radiator system is.

However, also account for the fact some dirt in the system will sit at the bottom of the radiator and may not always show up in the bleed test. The cleaning processes that you can use are:

  • Chemical Flush (average £300 - £700)
  • Power Flush - (average £300 - £750)
  • Gravity Flush - (average £400 - £600)

Although this seems like a costly process, flushing/cleaning your radiator will save you money in the long run, as your system will begin running more efficiently, taking less time to operate properly, and reducing your energy bills.