As you’d expect, winter is our busiest time here at Tailored Heat. Problems like frozen pipes and broken down boilers keep our engineers more than occupied – all on top of our day to day projects such as boiler services, bathroom installs and powerflushing.
Whilst we do offer an Emergency Plumbers service to homeowners and landlords in Plymouth, West Devon and South Cornwall, we’re sure you’d rather avoid using it if you can! So, it makes sense to take a few simple steps to keep your boiler and central heating system working well. With energy prices set to go up in January 2024, it’s also a good time to consider how you could use less fuel while staying warm and toasty in your home.
Here are our top six Dos and Don’ts to bear in mind this winter.
1. Insulate your pipes and hot water tank
This is one of the best things you can do to help prevent your pipes freezing and bursting, and will also help keep your water hotter for longer. Pipe and water tank insulation is relatively inexpensive to buy (much cheaper than the consequences of an insurance claim!) and simple to fit. Focus on pipework that’s outside, including any outdoor taps, and pipes located inside colder areas of your home such as the attic, cellar or garage.
2. Have your boiler serviced
If your boiler’s due for a service, get one booked in now. This will help flag up any problems and keep your boiler working safely and efficiently when you need it the most. At Tailored Heat, we offer a range of Boiler Care Plans which spread the cost of servicing your boiler over the year, as well as optional upgrades to cover other parts of your central heating system. You’ll also benefit from priority attention from our engineers if you need a call-out.
3. Turn off the water or turn down the heating if you’re going away
If you’re off on a winter holiday or trip lasting more than a few days, it may be worth turning off your water supply at the stopcock if very cold weather is forecast. You could even drain the system entirely by running the taps until they’re dry. This will help prevent frozen pipes and the nightmare of returning to a flooded home after your trip.
If you don’t want to switch off the water, you could leave your boiler on a low setting, which can also help stop your pipes from freezing. Set the heating to come on for a couple of hours morning and night at around 15o Celsius. Or, if your boiler has an anti-freezing setting, make sure this is enabled. This will automatically fire up the boiler if the water temperature drops below 5oC.
1. Leave the central heating on 24/7
It might be tempting to have the heating blasting away all day and night – and it can sometimes be necessary if ill or vulnerable people live in your home – but with today’s high gas and electricity prices, it’s not the best idea. It also puts extra strain on the boiler, increasing the risk of a breakdown.
Instead, set your central heating and hot water to only come on when you need them, i.e., when you’re at home and not in bed. If you’re feeling the cold at night, invest in an energy efficient heater for your bedroom, or a good quality electric blanket. Both are cheaper options than heating the whole property overnight.
2. Overheat your home
In the same spirit of not using the heating 24/7, don’t overegg the omelette when it comes to temperature settings. Each degree Celsius you turn the heating up can add around 6% to your home energy bills – so if you up the thermostat from 20oC to 25oC, that’s an eye-watering 30% increase!
Of course, you want to be comfortable in your home. So, it makes sense to find a temperature that doesn’t leave you shivering on the sofa, but doesn’t break the bank either. Try setting your thermostat to 18 oC, then turn up by one degree each day until you find that happy medium. And if you have thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) fitted, adjust the temperature in each room to reflect how much and when it’s used.
3. Block or cover your radiators
Putting furniture or other objects in front of radiators will absorb much of the heat they give out, stopping them distributing warmth evenly across the room. So, keep your radiators clear of clutter if you can. Similarly, don’t dry clothes on your radiators as this will cause the same problem. There’s also the added issue of steam coming off the clothes as they dry, which can lead to damp and mould forming in unventilated rooms.
If you do want to dry clothes indoors, put them on a clothes airer near a radiator – but not too close – and open the window slightly to let out the condensation. Or, dry them in the bathroom with the extractor fan switched on.
Need help with your heating? Tailored Heat are on hand!
If you’re worried your central heating or hot water aren’t working as they should, our trained Gas Safe engineers are here to help. As noted, we also offer an Emergency Plumbers service, plus priority call-outs for Boiler Care Plan members and vulnerable customers. You can book an engineer visit online or call our friendly team on 0800 689 1826.