Is it cheaper to leave your heating on all the time or turn it on and off?
Having advised thousands of homes on how to become more energy efficient and reduce energy bills there is one question we hear time and time again:
‘Is it cheaper for me to leave my heating on constantly 24/7 (with the temperature controlled by the thermostat) or set it via the programmer to come on at certain times?’
The answer is – it depends!
By leaving your heating on, the boiler will have to work to keep the temperature at a set level, whereas having it come on and off at set times will only heat your home at a given period; however your boiler will need to work harder to heat the house from cold to the required temperature.
Is your home well-insulated?
The answer is purely dependent on how well insulated your home is. If you’re home is very well insulated, you are better off leaving the heating on at a set temperature, where the thermostat will work with the boiler to maintain the temperature relatively easily, since there is little heat loss occurring.
Conversely, if your home is not energy efficient, potentially a Victorian property for example, then you are better off just heating it up for the times when you need it. The majority of people are out during the day, so most people opting for this heating schedule will fire the boiler to come up early in the morning for a couple of hours so the house is nice and comfortable when they wake up, then set it to come on in the late afternoon until they go to bed.
It will be more cost effective to heat the home as and when you need it, as any heat you generate will be lost fairly quickly through the walls, so if you try and maintain that warmer temperature all the time, your boiler is going to have work incredibly hard. This does mean that you are not going to have the home ‘warm’ all the time, but if you work during the day, it should make things a lot cheaper compared to leaving the boiler on.
Don’t take our word for it – test it for yourself!
So granted I have cast everyone into two baskets – energy efficient and not energy efficient. The truth of the matter is that you will most likely be somewhere between the two, so which heating method will work for you?
Well there is a simple test you can run at home to see whether you should have the heating on all the time or you should use the programmer so it only fires up a couple of times a day. Basically over the course of two weeks – test each method. You will need to take gas readings to do the test, and also bear in mind that if a sudden cold spell hits then your results will most likely be null and void!
The importance of insulation
We seem to touch on this a lot, but it really is a fundamental truth. If you live in a well-insulated house you will spend less on your energy bills.
In terms of cost effectiveness, loft insulation is the cheapest and easiest to do, costing about £250 if you opt for mineral wool insulation. This will pay back in just a couple of years. Cavity wall insulation and floor insulation are the next things to target.
If you live in an older solid wall property, cavity wall insulation won’t be possible and you will need to insulate either internally or externally.
Getting a more efficient boiler can also help lower your bills, along with better heating controls. For example, if you don’t have a thermostat, you will likely be overheating your home when the programmer kicks in. Thermostatic valves on your radiators can also regulate the temperature in rooms and they allow you to stop heating rooms you aren’t currently using.