How to save money by making your boiler more energy efficient


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The Independent Online

Now that winter is upon us, many of us are spending more time indoors. Top of everybody’s checklist is a home that can deal with the cold days and nights ahead. Your first priority should be your boiler as it provides a great deal of warmth through heating your radiators.

Arrange a routine boiler service

We have all battled with a broken boiler and deep down we know that it’s better to service it in time than wait for an impending breakdown. Booking your boiler in for a routine service will ensure that it runs more efficiently and safely. You’ll also save money in the long run as a small fault can be treated before it develops into a larger problem.

A typical service costs between £50- £80 for a standard efficiency boiler and £80 - £160 for a high-efficiency condensing boiler. If your boiler was fitted after 2005, it is a condensing boiler and you should look to spend £90+ VAT.

A routine service lasts for approximately an hour and begins with the heating engineer carrying out a visual check that your boiler meets current electrical, building and gas safety regulations. Next up is a check of the controls and operations of your boiler. There are nine components which require checking, including the main burner, fan and flue terminal.

The boiler casing will be cleaned to remove any dirt before the engineer finishes with an efficiency test of flue combustion gases and a gas tightness test to rule out gas leaks, like the silent killer carbon monoxide.

The powerflush

If your heating engineer discovers that your water circulation is inefficient, he or she may recommend a powerflush. You should powerflush your heating system every 5 years to keep your water circulation at its best. For an average 3-bed house with 8 to 12 radiators, a full powerflush will cost between £275 and £650, depending on which gas engineer you hire.

The powerflush involves a pump being connected into your heating system along with a flow reverser device. Water and a sludge crust breaker are pushed through the pump at high speed and low pressure to loosen the rust and sludge which has built up. A descaler is then pumped through to break down any limescale. Fresh clean water follows to remove the contaminated water. To complete the service, a corrosion inhibitor is pushed through the pump to prevent any future buildup of rust and sludge. This process reaches every radiator in your home.

DIY servicing: fitting a thermostat and/or insulation jacket

If you have a traditional conventional boiler, consider fitting a hot water tank thermostat and insulation jacket, which will make your boiler more energy efficient. A benefit is that you don’t need to hire an engineer for this.

Fitting a thermostat can save you £30 a year (based on a 3- bed home) and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 130kg. This works by controlling the temperature of the hot water leaving the tank. The thermostat is usually fitted to the tank, with the temperature sensor making contact with the cylinder inside. The thermostat should be set to a maximum temperature of 60°C to remain cost-effective.

The insulation jacket fits around your tank and can save you £40 a year through reducing up to 75% of the heat escaping through its walls. As the water in the tank remains hot for longer, less re-heating is needed. The jacket prices at £15 so the payback period is less than 6 months.

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