So which is the best way to use central heating?
Well, we believe that the most efficient way to heat a house is to programme your heating system so it’s only on when you need it.
Set your heating timer and thermostat so your home is warm when you want it to be – and only then. You could also buy some separate room thermostats and use them to make sure your bedroom’s toasty when it’s time to get up in the morning and your living room’s cosy when you’re watching television in the evening.
That really is the cheapest way to heat a house and keep your home at the temperature you want.
Of course it takes a certain amount of energy to kick-start your heating system. However, it also takes energy to keep the heating at a level temperature 24 hours a day.
The idea of leaving heating on all the time doesn’t take into account the fact that some heat is always being lost, even in the best insulated houses.
There's a fundamental principle involved here, which is that the heat loss from a house is always proportional to the difference in temperature between the inside and the outside. So the greater the difference, the more heat you lose. And the longer you maintain that difference (by keeping the heating switched on) the greater the total amount of heat lost - and the more you'll have to pay to replace it.
Even if your home is very well insulated, your heating system will still have to power up at intervals to restore the temperature and replace the heat you've lost.
If your house is poorly insulated, or not insulated at all, the heat loss will be even greater, and the heating could be using energy all the time to maintain a constant temperature. This would work out much more expensive than just turning it on and off when you need it. So it definitely isn’t the most efficient way to heat a house.
If your home isn’t insulated:
Sorry – yes. Even if you never open your windows, you’ll have to open the door occasionally. You’ll need to drain the water from your basins and bath sometimes. So there will still be a certain amount of heat loss.
However, it’s always worth insulating your home as well as you can. Whether you decide to leave your heating on all the time or turn it on and off, the better your home is insulated, the less energy you’ll need to use – and the lower your energy bills will be.
It’s true that some people believe that turning the heating on and off throughout the day causes condensation in the walls, which leads to extra heat loss. However, we haven’t seen any conclusive proof of this.
It’s simple. Pick a time when you know you’ll be around for two weeks, and on your normal work/home schedule.
We believe your last meter reading will show clearly that you’ve saved money by switching your heating off when you don’t need it. Whichever the result, you’ll certainly have worked out the cheapest way to heat a house.
You can insulate your home’s walls, roof, windows and doors – and of all the things you can do to save energy and reduce your bills, this is the most impactful.
These are our favourite ways for preventing heat loss:
If you’re looking into loft or wall insulation for your home, you might be able to get some government help. Find out more here
Unless your home is brand new, your heating system’s probably not as efficient as it could be.
If your boiler’s 15 years old or more, it could be time to change it for a younger, greener version. Replacing an old G-rated boiler with a new A-rated condensing boiler and a full set of heating controls, including the latest timer and thermostat, could make a big difference to your bills.
In the meantime, keep the heat in your hot water tank for longer by lagging it with a cylinder jacket. You’ll waste less energy heating it, and you could save about £35 a year.
Insulate any hot water pipes you can see in your home – i.e. not the ones in the walls or under the floorboards. Pipes lose heat if they’re out in the open.
You can also buy smart heating controls so you can switch your heating and electricity on and off remotely. Then you can switch on the heating half an hour before you’re due to get home, or switch it off if you’re going to be home later than you thought. This is probably the most cost-effective and best way to use central heating.
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OVO Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879
Additional terms and conditions
Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.
1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount. All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas). All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
3Pay Monthly Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYM OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.
33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
3% interest: Calculated at 3% per year, paid monthly based on number of days in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. OVO Interest Reward is capped at 12 times the amount of the current direct debit amount and is available to customers paying by advance direct debit. Terms apply: http://www.ovoenergy.com/terms/
95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Based on all new customer signups between 01/02/2016 and 31/07/2016
94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Britain's top rated energy provider: Britain's top rated energy provider in the Which? 2015 satisfaction survey. Survey conducted in October 2015. Awarded in January 2016.