The weather has been a bit mid recently, hasn’t it?
That bank holiday weekend just gone by I found myself in the garden enjoying the sun on Saturday morning, and sitting inside on Sunday morning watching hailstones come down. And with the kids soon to be off school again for the summer, I am preparing myself for a few weeks of humming and hawing over whether to shout the house down for people leaving windows open in the evening and the back door pretty much off the hinges from people running in and out.
While it is a grand time of year, there is one thing I’m going to be keeping my eyes on like a hawk: the heating. When you can have four seasons in one day, the idea of popping the heating on for an hour or two, even in the middle of June, doesn’t sound so mad in this part of the world.
So what should we all be doing, now that the weather could be picking up, to keep the heating bills down? Here are just a few tips to get you started.
Go look at your boiler!
We have oil heating in our house and the boiler is out in the garden. Over the winter, we had a problem where the boiler wasn’t firing up properly. It turned out the pump had seen better days, so we got a new one. While it was getting changed, the engineer pointed something out that I never knew about; the boiler’s thermostat.
We have an older boiler, and even though the heating controls inside have a temperature you can set, the actual boiler has its own thermostat that comes on and off depending on what it is set to. Quite naively, ours was at full pelt sitting at 90°C. In reality, any boiler in Ireland should be sitting around 70°C. It wasn’t doing too much damage, but it’s a bit like deciding to constantly boil the kettle when you’re only going to use it twice in the evening, i.e. you’re wasting energy.
So if you’re reading this and don’t even know what your outside boiler is set go, go and have a look.
Get those valves looked at!
Speaking of having a look at things, go and check every single radiator valve around the house. The same principal as the boiler applies here. You don’t want them operating at the maximum temperature, as it’s going to be a waste of fuel and money. Get those valves turned down to 1 or 2 and you’ll hardly notice a difference.
If you’re reading this and don’t have the valves with numbers (they’re called thermostatic valves), make it a wee job this summer to get the old valves off and some new ones in. For a cracking deal, I recommend checking out https://www.traderadiators.com/radiator-valves. They’re based just across the water, and even with additional charges, you can often find their valves are still a better deal than a flimsy cheap one from B&Q or Woodie’s.
Get the timer off!
You might think to yourself it will be a good idea to change the time the heating comes on for the next few months, but don’t. Get the wee box set to off full-time. I’d rather have the house be a wee bit chilly for half an hour in the morning now before we’re all out the door, rather than it blasting away a few hours here and there.
It’s much better to pop it on any evening you’re not warm enough, rather than it still coming on every evening as usual. You’ll kick yourself if it is and you have half the windows open now, as now one will realise they heating is on.