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7 Heating Myths to Avoid to Save Money on Your Energy

From using an electric heater instead of the central heating to saving money with smart meters and turning your thermostat up to get warmer - our heating expert has advice regarding some of the more common heating myths. 

With winter in full swing and unpredictable weather battering homes up and down the country, we asked our resident heating expert here at Only Radiators to debunk some of the common myths around heating. Plus, there's plenty of advice on how to keep homes warmer along with tips to save money on energy bills. 

1. Electric heaters are more efficient than central heating 

Many of us reach for an electric heater in a bid to keep warm as a cheaper alternative to turning on the heating, but in some cases they are much less economical to run. 

Gas central heating costs around £2.22 per hour to run based on an average boiler using 30 kilowatts per hour and the average gas costing 7.42 pence per kWh*. This will heat your whole home to the temperature your thermostat is set at. An electric heater, which can heat a small room or provide heat directly at you, uses around three kilowatts per hour. With electricity currently costing around 28.62* pence per kWh under the new energy price cap, that’s around 85p per hour per heater or use. 

If you were to use a plug-in electric heater for an hour a day in two separate rooms then it’s likely costing you an extra £11.90 a week. So, if you’re a larger or family household with many rooms to heat at one time, it’s not going to save you money to use one and you may as well just pop the heating on instead.

2. Cheaper to keep the heating on low all day 

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not going to save you any money on your energy bills if you keep your heating on low all day. You are asking your boiler to heat constantly but it won’t reach the desired temperature to make you warm and comfortable, so all you're doing is burning fuel and paying for it when there is no need to - and this is no help to your bank balance or the environment.

It’s much more energy efficient to set a timer for your heating to come on when you’re going to need it the most - usually first thing in the morning and in the evening - for a short burst. Or, alternatively to turn your boiler off and on when you require hot water or heating. 

3. Turn your thermostat up to heat your home quicker 

During cold weather, there is a temptation to crank up the heat. And while that is a perfectly reasonable course of action, it's not what your thermostat does. Your thermostat is a limiter, not an accelerator - a minimum and a maximum temperature limiter rolled into one. So, If you're cold and you turn your thermostat up to 30 degrees in an attempt to make your home hotter, you're essentially saying to your boiler "you couldn't reach 20 degrees, so give 30 degrees a try" with the rate of heating staying the same. It's like someone telling you to run 20 miles. Yet when you flop at 10 miles they instead move the finish line to 30 miles away. 

Your home needs a while for the heat to collect so it's important to be patient and let the central heating do its job. In fact, each degree you increase your thermostat by can actually cost you an extra 10% on your heating bill a year. The evidence that’s available points to 18  - 21 °C being the most appropriate threshold for UK homes, but it’s important to consider the members of your household and their individual needs when deciding on an optimum room temperature.

Read more on this in our blog: Should You Turn the Thermostat Up When Your're cold?

4. Smart metres will save you money on your heating bills

There’s lots of buzz around smart metres and how they can save you money on your energy but it’s not as clear cut as that. Sure, they can make you much more aware of your energy consumption and therefore mindful of usage, but a smart metre won’t automatically save you money. To really reap the benefits of a smart metre, you will need to spend time analysing the insights via the digital display to keep track of your energy usage and identify how to save money that way - such as running appliances at certain times of the day and using your heating controls more efficiently. 

5. Fireplaces are a great way to heat a home 

Fireplaces work really well to heat directly in front of them and the surrounding area with potential to heat a small room adequately, but when it comes to heating an entire home, they just won’t cut it. Central heating is designed to heat throughout your home, so if that’s what you are looking for, it’s the most efficient way of doing so. But if you want to limit the heat to one room like your living room then use an electric fire. Log burners have more ability to heat a home but that is dependent on the size of the house. 

6. Moving furniture closer to the radiator to keep warm

You may think that the closer you are to the radiator, the warmer you’ll feel and that could be the cause for putting your sofa or chairs up against them. But, that’s actually going to be counterproductive. The furniture will prevent heat from being distributed evenly in the room. It’s best to keep furniture between six to 12 inches away from the radiators to allow the heat to circulate. Plus, keeping furniture right up against the radiator could cause damage over time. If you want to add more warmth to the room then try adding throws and pillows. 

7. Underfloor heating is not as efficient as radiators 

Underfloor heating works by pumping a flow of warm water through a tubing underneath the top layer of flooring. Warmth comes through evenly across a larger surface area and that can make it a more efficient system than radiators but it all depends on the home. Underfloor heating can be a costly install, too, but it does have lots of energy efficient benefits making it a good investment for the long term. 

When used in combination with radiators, it can be a smart solution for your home. Underfloor heating works well downstairs which tends to be a more airy and open space. Then upstairs you can have additional heat sources like electric or plumbed towel rails and radiators where rooms are smaller and more closed off. This means you don’t have such a costly outlay but benefit from both types of heating.

If you're looking for more heating advice, check out our Heating Essentials blog page. 

*Price based on changes to energy price cap from 1 January 2024 | Ofgem

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