Central heating is a god send (if we can afford to keep it running) and, a lot of us seem happy enough just to have it installed and press the on button but, how do you know it’s set up correctly? What temperature do you set your thermostat for example.
In this article I want to explain how you can make your central heating more efficient, how to save yourself money and even how to prevent illness.
Cold conditions can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. According to the BBC, “More than 23,000 elderly people died as a result of being too cold”, that was in 2006 but, every winter offers challenges when it comes to heating the home and staying healthy.
Here is a table of temperatures and risks from the West Midlands Public Health Observatory:
24C - top range of comfort
21C - recommended living room temperature
Less than 20C - death risk begins
18C - recommended bedroom temperature
16C - resistance to respiratory diseases weakened
12C - more than two hours at this temperature raises blood pressure and increases heart attack and stroke risk
5C - Significant risk of hypothermia
As a simple rule, no room in your house should drop below 16C.
So how do you know if your home is warm enough?
Your thermostat should be placed in an area without drought that maintains a relatively even temperature throughout the day. Siting your thermostat properly can ensure your heating isn’t turned on or off unnecessarily.
There is a lot of conflicting advice on what temperature you should set your thermostat. We are often told to turn it down to save energy. Here we will describe a set up that we know works well through experience.
Set your thermostat at 21C.
21C is the recommended living room temperature (or dining room – wherever you spend the majority of your day) anything lower than this could have small or even large consequences on your health. But we don’t want every room bellowing out 21C, that would be a waste.
The majority of houses have TRV’s today. As a general rule, all bedrooms should be fitted with one. They are a great way of individually controlling the temperature in separate rooms.
Common TRV’s work by allowing air to react with metals which expand or contract with temperature (You should allow room around them for air to circulate.), and usually have numbers from 1 – 5 on them. But what do these numbers mean?
A typical TRV will start at 16C (as this is the recommended minimum for any room) and go up to 24C.
1 = 16C
2 = 18C
3 = 20C
4 = 22C
5 = 24C
Once a room reaches the set temperature, the radiator is turned off (directing hot water else ware). This increases the effectiveness of your central heating, meaning busy radiators get an extra boost of hot water and radiators that aren’t required to kick out as much heat cool down. Your boiler benefits because it gradually needs to heat less and less water.
We would recommend having TRV’s on every radiator in your house except the room containing your thermostat. (If your thermostat is set to 21C but your TRV turns the radiator off at 18C, you could end up confusing your boiler into staying on constantly).
What setting you apply to your TRV is up to you. As a general rule, the less you use a room the lower the setting should be. Some rooms may benefit from staying cool also, such as your bathroom.
Here are our own TRV settings as an example:
Hall = Thermostat 20.5C
Living Room = 3 (20C)
Dining room = 2.5 (19C)
Kitchen = 1.5 (17C)
Bathroom = 1 (16C)
Bedroom = 2 (18C)
Spare Bedroom = 1 (16C)
Office = 2 (18C)
We find that the majority of the rooms on this list reach there temperature quickly, leaving the boiler to heat only a few litres of water afterwards to maintain focus on the main living areas.
Balancing your radiators is another method of controlling how much water your radiators receive. The idea is to ensure all radiators in the house heat evenly. If you imagine that all your radiators are connected in a long line with the hot water flowing through one at a time in series. The radiator at the end is going to receive less hot water than the first.
In reality, your radiators are connected in parallel, but a similar effect can occur between floors or distance. Usually the first floor radiators get a ready supply of hot water while your ground floor receives the left overs. Radiators positioned a distance away from your boiler will take longer to heat also.
A very simple way of balancing your radiators is to close all your first floor radiator outlet valves and then open them by a quarter turn. This will help push water down to the ground floor. You can take this one step further by noting which radiators get hot first and closing these down to a quarter turn or more. If you spend a couple of hours turning your heating on and off and noting the temperature of each radiator, you can tweak the system finely to ensure every radiator heats up at exactly the same rate. Detailed information is available here http://www.homebuilding.co.uk/advice/DIY/how-balance-radiators
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