Heating expert shares top tip on using radiator valves
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As freezing temperatures continue in the UK and energy bills still on the rise, Britons are doing everything they can to save money where they can. This includes looking for money-saving ways to heat their home, as well as turning off unused radiators. However, rather than lowering energy bills, turning off unused radiators could actually “cost you more”, according to Ben Price, founder of Heatable.
Although it sounds counter-intuitive, heating and boiler experts at Heatable are warning people “stop turning off unused radiators” to save money this winter as it may potentially “drive-up heating bills”.
Ben explained: “Turning off your heating in unused rooms by turning the radiator’s thermostatic radiator valve to zero or off can save you energy, but it could also cost you more money because ultimately they’re always directly related.”
However, the expert noted that the caveat to this is that it depends on the age of the current boiler.
He explained if the boiler is an old G-rated and non-condensing boiler (typically sold before 2005), households will likely save money by turning off unused radiators.
However, for those who have a modern condensing boiler i.e., Britons who had their boiler installed post-2005, they operate more efficiently at lower flow temperatures.
Flow temperature means the temperature of the water feature in the flow pipe of a heating system or a separate area of a central heating system.
So how low should the temperature be? This would depend on what is safe for the home, but essentially the flow temperature needs to be as low as is safely possible.
In older and uninsulated homes, the ideal flow temperature is between 55 and 60 degrees. For modern and insulated homes, the ideal flow temperature is between 45 and 55 degrees.
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To achieve the ideal temperature flow, it’s important to note that there are many smart modulating thermostats on the market that can set the ideal flow temperature for households automatically.
Otherwise, households need to adjust their boiler’s flow temperature. This would depend on what type of boiler they have.
A boiler may come with dials, dials and digital displays, or digital displays with buttons.
Whatever the case, Britons should follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully if they’d like to adjust the flow temperature.
A top tip for households to easily identify if they have a modern condensing boiler is by checking if there is a “white pipe” exiting the boiler from underneath.
This is all due to the way modern condensing boiler technology works. Instead of heat being wasted and sent out by the flue pipe it is recycled back into the central heating system.
Since modern boilers operate at lower flow temperatures, Ben explained that reducing the flow temperature is an “easy way to increase the efficiency” of heating.
He noted there are “two ways to achieve this”, by using a modulating thermostat and by increasing the radiator surface area.
The expert said: “Essentially that means that the unused radiators or radiators in rooms not being used should be left open or on.
“Not doing so will make your boiler have to work harder and burn more energy to reach the desired temperature of the radiators you have left on.
“This all due to the fact that while the radiators are less hot, they are still able to heat your home to the desired temperature.
“So, the thing to remember is if you are not using radiators in unused rooms, you still want to leave them on in order to allow water to continue to flow through them or the other radiators and ultimately your boiler will have to work harder.”
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