Should You Turn Your Thermostat Up When It's Cold? No.
We know how it feels to come home to a freezing house after a chilly commute and hang a rain-soaked coat on the radiator. Everything is wet, cold, and uncomfortable. But should I turn my heating up when it's cold? No. You shouldn't turn your thermostat up when it's cold or down when it's hot (because it'll make no difference). And here's why.
The False Assumption Costing Everyone a LOT of Money
So your reaction will either be one of complete surprise or total indifference because it's obvious when you spend a few seconds thinking about it. But, it's just not something that most of us thought we needed to think about:
Your thermostat tells the boiler to keep heating until the house is a specific temperature. It maintains a set temperature, nothing more.
What a Thermostat Really Does
A thermostat set to 20 degrees:
- *Won't* tell your radiators to put out 20 degrees of heat until you turn it off or down
- *Will* ensure your boiler keeps heating your home until it's 20 degrees
A thermostat turned to 20 degrees in Summer:
- *Wont* heat your home if it's already above 20 degrees
- *Will* heat your home if it drops below 20 degrees
A thermostat turned to 20 degrees in Winter:
- *Wont* heat your home faster if it's turned up higher
- *Will* heat your home to the exact same temperature as you like it any other day of the year
Cold Weather Lowers the Effectiveness of Your Insulation, But Touching Your Thermostat Won't Help
Most people are still in a Victorian mindset and, during cold weather, they crank up the heat. And while that is a perfectly reasonable course of action, it's not what your thermostat does. Your thermostat is, instead, a limiter, not an accelerator. A minimum and a maximum temperature limiter rolled into one.
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 instead.
How to Stay Warm in Cold Weather
- Put a jumper on, or a coat
- Ensure your home is fully insulated (cavity, attic, double glazed, etc)
- Clear items way from the top and bottoms of your radiators (the bottom is just as important for good circulation)
- Close windows (but make sure every room is still sufficiently ventilated)
- More carpets (carpets are 60% more insulative than fibreglass, famous for its insulative properties)
- Furnish with fabrics (because the more fluffy textiles you have around, the more heat will be trapped inside them)
- Underfloor Heating (see below)
- Better radiators (see below)
How Underfloor Heating Helps
Calling all eco-warriors. Do you want to save the planet, help the penguins, reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels, spend less on your heating, enjoy a warmer home, AND HAVE NICE WARM TOES?
Well, just get some underfloor heating then.
- Underfloor heating heats up your floor, which means your feet are happy
- Underfloor heating provides a more even heat across a room
- You can individually control rooms and set them to timers so you're never wasting a penny
Let's take a peek at our underfloor heating below.
How Responsive Radiators Will Make You Forget That Winter Is Even a Thing
As I said earlier, one of the biggest reasons you're likely throwing money at the energy companies is down to a lack of patience. That's not a criticism either - anyone who can remain patient while their lips turn blue is a saint.
Your home needs a while for the heat to collect. And, since we all now know that turning the thermostat up is nothing more than a mean joke to play on your boiler, you just need to be patient to let the central heating do its job.
BUT if you don't want to spend an hour Googling "symptoms of frostbite" then buy a radiator that is more responsive.
As a quick example, I'll use the most obvious example, which is to buy an aluminium radiator. Aluminium is a superconductor, so it heats extremely quickly and outputs its heat extremely quickly. That way you can heat up your home the moment you want to and judge the effects of particular thermostat temperatures yourself to find your 'sweet spot', or your perfect temperature.
So Should I Turn My Thermostat up? A Summary
So, to conclude our answering of "should I turn my thermostat up in the winter?" or "in the summer?" or even "should I turn my thermostat up on the second Wednesday of April unless it's a crescent moon?" the answer is a no. Not unless you want to be hotter than you usually like it.
And feeling hotter for the sake of it is genuinely a nice thing to do. We sell radiators, we know how good being warm is.
But what we DON'T want is you wasting money. Because when your boiler inevitably catches up to that 30-degree mark and you open all the windows to let the stuffy heat out because now it's too warm, well, the only people smiling are the fossil-fuel-industry CEO's.