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HOW TO LOWER YOUR ENERGY BILL

Alternative options to make your heating system more efficient and save money on your energy bill

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‘On average heating and hot water bills amount to 55% of your household bills’- Energy Saving Trust (2020)

With the energy prices already soaring to sky high proportions this year and the energy price cap being scheduled to rise around 80%  by October (around £3,500), there isn’t a better time to discuss how to lower your energy bills. There are many ways to help lower the cost of your energy consumption that are obvious solutions and are frequently discussed, such as making sure everything is switched off by the plug. In this article we will discuss more viable solutions related to your heating and hot water system and with our help, you will not be left sitting in the dark and cold in an effort to save on your energy bill.

Adjusting your temperature output

Many boilers boast a control function that gives you the ability to alter the temperature of your hot water output and this setting is often on a much higher temperature than is actually necessary. By adjusting the temperature of your hot water to a lower and more appropriate setting you can in turn lower the cost of your energy bill, as energy will no longer be wasted to heat your hot water to a unnecessarily high temperature. Having your hot water set on too high of a temperature is also counterintuitive as it will just be mixed with cold water to lower the temperature to a safe level.

Boilers are commonly found to have their hot water set to temperatures of around 70°c when this is simply just too hot to be used straight out of a hot water outlet. The desired temperature for hot water is normally 60°c, at this temperature the hot water can be safely handled but is hot enough to prevent the development of legionella bacteria. Legionella commonly builds up at temperatures lower than 55°c which is why we recommend having it set to 60°c to act as a safety net to prevent this from occurring.

The same also applies to other HVAC systems (e.g. warm air heating systems, heat pump systems and air conditioning systems), as these can also have their temperature output adjusted accordingly to prevent unnecessary use of energy. Integrating your system with a BMS or a weather / load compensator can help adjust the temperature output automatically in relation to the external or internal temperature to your property, amongst other factors. Weather / load compensators will be discussed in more detail later in this article. To check out more benefits of integrating a heat pump system with a BMS, click here!

Adjusting your thermostat settings

Now this one may seem obvious but ensuring your thermostat settings are on an appropriate level is something that is regularly overlooked and dismissed. The Energy Saving Trust state that the ideal temperature  (whether for a home or a productive work environment) is between 18°c and 21°c, giving reasons such as 18-21°c  is the ideal temperature for sustained health, the best temperature for a good night’s sleep and to also maintain productivity in the work place.

To many, this may seem too low and even I have been known to whack my thermostat to a blistering 31°c after a day out trudging around in the cold, but having your property this hot is actually found to cause discomfort, disrupted sleep and can even lead to increased risks of heart attacks and strokes. Higher environmental temperatures can also promote bacterial growth and the spread of illnesses, which is the last thing you want for a happy and healthy business. Furthermore, according to the multitude of research on this topic, wanting the thermostat so high is purely a psychological effect and 18°c – 21°c is more than suitable to keep your employees, visitors and occupants content and comfortable.

So the next time you get home after braving the harsh elements, set your thermostat to the ideal temperature which will save you money and also help promote a healthy lifestyle. Although, bear in mind that due to the setting being lower than you’re used to, it may take a little longer to heat your property as the radiators will no longer be kicking off the heat you’d experience on the Canary Islands in the middle of July. The benefits of a controlled temperature are touched on further in our article on the importance of air conditioning in the work place.

Checking your thermostat is accurate & your heating is balanced

Sticking to the topic of thermostats, checking the thermostat is set correctly can help lower energy bills but for the saving to be made, it is imperative that the temperature of your heating appliances actually reflects what the thermostat is set to. With older heating systems it can be a common occurrence for the thermostat  to become uncalibrated or the internal sensors have degraded, causing the radiators to be much hotter and heating the room to a higher temperature than required. In this situation, it will lead to increased energy bills because if your thermostat is set to 21°c but the system is trying to heat the room to temperatures of 28°c, you will be paying the extra for the energy to heat it to that level.

The easiest way to check that your thermostat is accurate would be to get an accurate thermometer and place it by the room thermostat, all you have to do then is wait for heating to take effect and see if the thermometer reading is the same as the thermostat setting. If so then your thermostat is accurate, if not then your thermostat most likely needs replacing. We recommend opting for a smart thermostat, where compatible with your HVAC system. This way you can monitor the temperature of your home by checking your phone and adjusting it accordingly. 

You should also check the radiators for any cold spots as poor circulation means higher energy bills. If there are cold spots mainly at the top of the radiators, your system is likely unbalanced and requires bleeding. If there are cold spots at the bottom of your radiator (and generally all over) then this is usually a sign of a sludge and debris. When this is the case the most common solution actually feeds into our next point of power flushing.

If you have been experiencing issues with your thermostat depicting the correct temperature, make sure to check out this article.

Removing sludge from your system (power flushing)

Debris and sludge building up in your heating system is a frequent factor that impacts the efficiency of a boiler and isn’t one that is solved by simply flicking a switch or adjusting a setting on your boiler. The debris and sludge in question is normally iron oxide e.g. rust from the metal components which then mixes with limescale from the water used and anything else that has managed to work its way into your heating system.

A build up of sludge inside your heating system will effect your boiler efficiency and lead to higher energy bills as it will take up the space inside your radiators where water should be leading to cold spots and less heat omitted from the radiators. Your heating system will then have to work harder to heat the room to the correct temperature and will also have to try and heat the sludge which will require more energy to do so in comparison to water due to being a more solid substance.

The best way to remove any sludge from inside a heating system is to have an engineer attend your property and perform a power flush. A power flush involves using a variety of chemicals to break down the sludge and debris inside your heating system, which is removed using specialist equipment. There are other types of flushes done to remove sludge from radiators but none boast the same capabilities of a power flush as this involves connecting a specialised pressure washer to all radiators and any accessible and visible pipework. This is because sludge is known to build up in pipes as well as other components and not just your radiators.

To book a power flush hit the button below and we will get an appointment booked in for a time that suits you!

 

Checking your thermostat is accurate & your heating is balanced

Sticking to the topic of thermostats, checking the thermostat is set correctly can help lower energy bills but for the saving to be made, it is imperative that the temperature of your heating appliances actually reflects what the thermostat is set to. With older heating systems it can be a common occurrence for the thermostat  to become uncalibrated or the internal sensors have degraded, causing the radiators to be much hotter and heating the room to a higher temperature than required. In this situation, it will lead to increased energy bills because if your thermostat is set to 21°c but the system is trying to heat the room to temperatures of 28°c, you will be paying the extra for the energy to heat it to that level.

The easiest way to check that your thermostat is accurate would be to get an accurate thermometer and place it by the room thermostat, all you have to do then is wait for heating to take effect and see if the thermometer reading is the same as the thermostat setting. If so then your thermostat is accurate, if not then your thermostat most likely needs replacing. We recommend opting for a smart thermostat, where compatible with your HVAC system. This way you can monitor the temperature of your home by checking your phone and adjusting it accordingly. 

You should also check the radiators for any cold spots as poor circulation means higher energy bills. If there are cold spots mainly at the top of the radiators, your system is likely unbalanced and requires bleeding. If there are cold spots at the bottom of your radiator (and generally all over) then this is usually a sign of a sludge and debris. When this is the case the most common solution actually feeds into our next point of power flushing.

If you have been experiencing issues with your thermostat depicting the correct temperature, make sure to check out this article.

Removing sludge from your system (power flushing)

Debris and sludge building up in your heating system is a frequent factor that impacts the efficiency of a boiler and isn’t one that is solved by simply flicking a switch or adjusting a setting on your boiler. The debris and sludge in question is normally iron oxide e.g. rust from the metal components which then mixes with limescale from the water used and anything else that has managed to work its way into your heating system.

A build up of sludge inside your heating system will effect your boiler efficiency and lead to higher energy bills as it will take up the space inside your radiators where water should be leading to cold spots and less heat omitted from the radiators. Your heating system will then have to work harder to heat the room to the correct temperature and will also have to try and heat the sludge which will require more energy to do so in comparison to water due to being a more solid substance.

The best way to remove any sludge from inside a heating system is to have an engineer attend your property and perform a power flush. A power flush involves using a variety of chemicals to break down the sludge and debris inside your heating system, which is removed using specialist equipment. There are other types of flushes done to remove sludge from radiators but none boast the same capabilities of a power flush as this involves connecting a specialised pressure washer to all radiators and any accessible and visible pipework. This is because sludge is known to build up in pipes as well as other components and not just your radiators.

To book a power flush hit the button below and we will get an appointment booked in for a time that suits you!

Lagging (insulating) your pipes

It is a little known fact that not having your pipes properly lagged (insulated) could be costing you 20 – 25% more on your energy bill. That is an astonishing amount for something that is easily solved by having some basic insulation installed onto your pipes.

When considering having pipe lagging installed you should look at the location of your pipes and the temperature of their whereabouts. If you have pipes that run externally or they’re in a colder environment, such as a basement or loft space, then having lagging installed could save you a significant amount on your energy bills. On the other hand, if you have a small domestic property without a loft space or basement then you most likely will not need pipe lagging as the pipes will not be in a location that warrants this measure to be taken.

For those of you that do decide pipe lagging would be beneficial to your property then don’t hesitate to get in touch or for more information check out our pipe lagging page. Alternatively, another solution available to keep your pipes warm and at a consistent temperature is trace heating. This involves special cables / tape wrapping around pipework, emitting an electrical current which keeps the pipes and the water they’re carrying at a consistent temperature of your choice! Check out our article on the different types of trace heating cables for a deeper insight into the topic.

Replacing old boilers / equipment

Replacing an old boiler or old equipment is probably the most expensive solution to lowering your energy bill but can also be one of the most effective in the long run. If you have an older boiler installed at your property then it probably has an efficiency rating of around 60 – 70% depending on the age. This is a drastic difference when compared to new boiler installations that have to reach efficiency rates of over 90% in order to meet the current rules and regulations. 

A gap of 20 – 30% in efficiency in turn means that you could be using 20 – 30% less energy to provide the same level of output from your heating and hot water.  Meaning that if you have an heating bill of £50 per month you could actually be paying £35 per month just through updating your boiler to a newer model. The same further applies to other old heating systems or equipments like pumps, technology is constantly improving at a growing rate, therefore newer equipment is always improving and becoming more efficient.

Pair this with lower maintenance fees as an old boiler will most likely require much more repair work leading to endless call outs and charges, when a new boiler in theory shouldn’t require any of this (for a while at least!). If you are still unsure whether to replace your boiler, click here for our article on just that.

Installing a weather / load compensator

A weather compensator or load compensator are 2 pieces of equipment that can drastically improve the efficiency of your heating system by proactively monitoring the temperatures inside and outside of your property. A load compensator solely monitors the internal temperature of a property, meaning that when a property is warming up or cooling down the compensator will preemptively raise or lower the temperature of the heating output in accordance to the temperature inside a property. When the heating is turned off, it takes a lot more energy to turn it back on. Consider this occurring several times a day when the heating is in use but with the load compensator, the heating slowly will start turning down when it is nearing the temperature and slowly turning back up when it is further away.

A weather compensator  does much the same but it also monitors the external temperature of the property, this means that a weather compensator is even more proactive than a weather compensator as it will adjust the temperature of the heating output before the internal temperature is affected. Having either of these installed stops energy being wasted by having the temperature set too high when the temperature outside or inside is so warm that this isn’t justified.

Installing a weather / load compensator

A weather compensator or load compensator are 2 pieces of equipment that can drastically improve the efficiency of your heating system by proactively monitoring the temperatures inside and outside of your property. A load compensator solely monitors the internal temperature of a property, meaning that when a property is warming up or cooling down the compensator will preemptively raise or lower the temperature of the heating output in accordance to the temperature inside a property. When the heating is turned off, it takes a lot more energy to turn it back on. Consider this occurring several times a day when the heating is in use but with the load compensator, the heating slowly will start turning down when it is nearing the temperature and slowly turning back up when it is further away.

A weather compensator  does much the same but it also monitors the external temperature of the property, this means that a weather compensator is even more proactive than a weather compensator as it will adjust the temperature of the heating output before the internal temperature is affected. Having either of these installed stops energy being wasted by having the temperature set too high when the temperature outside or inside is so warm that this isn’t justified.