How to use your home heating controls

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How to use your home heating controls

With the temperatures dropping, many are reaching for the thermostat. The vast majority of consumers think they know how to use their home heating controls – yet research shows that more than 60 per cent are making at least one basic error that could be costing them very much. Simply setting your thermostat to 72 F, not 71 F, could add a considerable amount in a year to your annual energy bill. Here are some basic heating errors for you to consider and avoid:

1. When it’s cold outside, turn the thermostat up

The very purpose of the thermostat, whatever the weather outside, is to preserve thepreferred temperature indoors. Accordingly, the common practice of turning the heat up shouldn’t be necessary. If you turn your thermostat up high, you’ll probably simply find it’s a bit too hot – and you’ll have wasted energy and cash in the process.

2. To heat the room more quickly, turn the thermostat up

When you enter a chilly house it may seem tempting to turn the thermostat up to maximum,but it won’t get you back up to a comfortable temperature any sooner because a thermostat doesn’t control the speed at which your house heats up – it just controls the final temperatures. So you won’t get to the temperature you want any sooner. And unless you turn it back down in time, you will end up with an overly-warm house.

3. More efficient than turning it on and off is to leave the heating on low constantly

This is a wrong idea because it simply means that the house is heated when there is no one inside to benefit and then the home is too cold when people come in. A much better system is to control the timing of your heating using a thermostat programmer. This will keep you warmer when you are at home, and save you money when you are not.

4. To make sure hot water doesn’t run out, you must keep your water heater on all day

Many people think their hot water will run out easily, so they leave the water heater on all day. If your tank is well insulated and you have heated water in the morning, that must staywarm until midday. For that reason, it is basic to make sure your hot water tank is properly insulated.

Leaving the water heater on all day will simply waste money. The correct use is to set your hot water to come on approximately half an hour before you want start using it in the morning. If you’re likely to be doing things that require hot water, like washing up, you might then want it to come on again for a bit later in the day.

5. Keep electric storage heaters on all the time

By not taking advantage of cheaper night rate electricity, homes with electric heating could be paying more. Electric storage heaters are designed to work by using cheaper, off-peak electricity to “charge up” overnight and then releasing the heat during the day. Many storage heaters have in-built electric panel heaters. It costs far more to use the panel heaters not the storage ones, for example when leaving the heaters on all the time with incorrect settings.

An electric storage heater, standard version, has usually two controls, an Output setting and an Input setting. The Output setting will control how much heat the heater gives out, as long as there is stored heat available. The Input control determines how much electricity the heater will take from the grid during the coming night, and hence how much stored heat will be available the following day.

To use it properly, follow these steps: first set the Output dial according to how much heat you want that moment, and then the Input dial according to how much heat you think you will need the following day. If the heater never runs out of heat in the evening or the weather gets warmer, by turning the Input dial down you can save money without getting cold. You may need to turn the Input dial up if a heater runs out of heat in the evening while you still need it, or if the weather gets colder.

Turn the output dial to zero so you don’t waste energy overheating empty rooms beforegoing to bed or going out. As it will take a while for the heater and the room to cool down you can probably do this quite early, maybe an hour before you go to bed.

When summer comes and you don’t need the heaters any more, turn them off not just by turning the dials to zero but at the wall. The day before you need the heating to come back on, remember to turn them on again.

Alternatively, for other heating controls here are some energy saving tips:

• When cooking use the smallest pan and burner needed.
• Use lids on your pots and pans.
• Cooking in a crock pot uses less energy than an electric oven.
• Add weather stripping or caulk to seal air outflows around leaky doors and windows
• Wear slippers. Cold air settles to the floor, and your whole body will feel warmer if your feet are covered
• Turn lights off when you’re not in the room.
• Turning down the brightness on your TV can cut its energy use as much as 25 percent
• When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours. This can save you up to 10-percent on your heating and cooling bills.

Some people don’t realize that in order to get the most out of their heating system, it needs to be properly maintained. A well-maintained heating system will save money and help toprolong the furnace life. Heating units should be serviced at least once a year, generally in the fall. In general, all HVAC systems have a filter, and these filters need to be changed regularly. The frequency depends on the unit, and the type of filter. For example one-inch filters need to be changed monthly, 2-inch filters can last up to 90 days. Some larger filters may last longer, but it’s always best to follow the specifications on the product or to consult an HVAC specialist.

For homes equipped with fireplaces it is important to remember that they must be kept clean in order to function safely and efficiently. Annual inspections by a qualified professional can prevent fires and carbon monoxide.

During the months you use it, the firebox should be cleaned at least once a week, because of ash build up. Nonetheless, about an inch of ash must be left in the firebox because it acts as insulation that allows coals to heat faster and retain the heat easier.

Keep the firebox completely clean during the months when the fireplace isn’t in use. If you have a fireplace that is not used at all, the chimney flue should be plugged and sealed.

Pellet-burning and wood heaters also require maintenance. Clean the flue vent regularly, and the inside periodically with a wire brush.

Taking proper care of a heating system isn’t the only way to cut down on cost during the winter months, some small changes can have big impacts on utility bills.