Are you using your thermostat wrong?
Five home heating errors pushing up energy bills
Most households are making at least one basic error with their home heating controls.
The vast majority of public think they know how to use their home heating controls - yet new research shows that more than 60 percent are making at least one basic error that could be costing them dearly.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, here are five common myths - busted.
Myth 1: Turn the thermostat up when it’s cold outside
This shouldn't be necessary, because the very purpose of the thermostat is to maintain the desired temperature, whatever the weather.
Greg Shreeve, energy expert at the Energy Saving Trust, says if you do turn your thermostat up even higher, you'll probably simply 'find it's a bit too hot' - and you'll have wasted energy and cash in the process.
Myth 2: Turn up the thermostat to heat the room more quickly
If you come home to 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.
'People think it's like pressing your foot down on the accelerator in a car, and the further you press your foot down, the faster you get to the speed you want,' Mr Shreeve explains.
'But actually, 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 - but you will end up with an overly-warm house, unless you turn it back down in time.
Myth 3: Leaving the heating on low constantly is more efficient than turning it on and off
According to the Energy Saving Trust, this simply means 'these homes are heated when no-one is there to benefit and then the home is too cold when people are in the home'.
Much better to use a thermostat programmer to control the timing of your heating - keeping you warmer when you are at home, and saving you money when you're not.
Myth 4: You need to keep your water heater on all day to make sure hot water doesn't run out
A lot of people seem to think their hot water will run out easily, so leave their water heater on all day. This 'could be costing far more on their energy bills than necessary', the Energy Saving Trust says.
'You want to make sure your hot water tank is properly insulated. If you’ve heated water in the morning and your tank is well insulated that should remain warm until midday,' Mr Shreeve advises.
Set your hot water to come on roughly half an hour before you want to get up and start showering in the morning. You might then want it to come on again for a bit later in the day if you're likely to be doing things like washing up - but leaving it on all day will simply waste money.
Myth 5: Keep electric storage heaters on all the time
'Households with electric heating could be paying through the nose by not taking advantage of cheaper night rate electricity,' the Energy Saving Trust says.
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.
But many people don't really understand how they work.
Mr. Shreeve says many storage heaters also have in-built electric panel heaters. Leaving the heaters on all the time with incorrect settings could result in them using the panel heaters not the storage ones - costing you far more.
Here's the Trust's advice on how you should use a storage heater:
'A standard electric storage heater has 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.
'So you need to set the Output dial according to how much heat you want now, and the Input dial according to how much heat you think you will need tomorrow.
'If a heater runs out of heat in the evening while you still need it, or if the weather gets colder, you may need to turn the Input dial up. If the weather gets warmer, or the heater never runs out of heat in the evening, you can probably save money without getting cold by turning the Input dial down.
'Turn the Output dial to zero before you go to bed or go out, so you’re not wasting energy overheating empty rooms. You can probably do this quite early, maybe an hour before you go to bed, as it will take a while for the heater and the room to cool down.
'And when summer comes and you don’t need the heaters any more, turn them off at the wall, not just by turning the dials to zero. Remember you will need to turn them on again the day before you need the heating to come back on.'
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