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I’m a plumber – the common household mistake that pushes up energy bills and how to avoid it | The Sun

Nov 26, 2022

MANY Brits are facing a challenging winter with soaring prices, but there are ways to reduce the costs of central heating.

Households were hit hard when energy bills went up on October 1.

Costs rose after the government’s energy price cap kicked in.

Under this guarantee, energy bills have been fixed at £2,500 a year.

This was meant to run for two years, but bills will instead rise to £3,000 from April 2023 under the updated guarantee.

As temperatures drop, we all want to crank our radiators up, but a number of tricks can save you hundreds of pounds.

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Below we round up tips including a common mistake to avoid as shared by plumber Winston Davis, founder of Avenue Heating.

1. Turn off your immersion switch

If you have a hot water cylinder, check your immersion switch is not on, Winston told The Sun.

“We often go to properties where the immersion runs 24 hours a day, without people realising it,” he said.

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“Immersion heaters work like giant kettles, using electricity and a metal element to heat the water in a hot water cylinder.

"If you have a gas boiler, your immersion heater should only be used as a backup if your boiler fails for some reason.”

If your immersion heater is permanently on, this is like having a kettle running 24 hours a day, said Winston.

“In order to identify if you have an immersion, go to your hot water cylinder and have a look for a circular cover, with an electrical cable coming out from it – either towards the top or the side,” he said.

“If you follow that cable, it will take you to an electrical spur. That should normally be switched off.”

Winston added that if you don’t have a gas boiler, and an immersion is the only way to heat up the hot water, you should check to see if you have some kind of timer installed.

“This will enable you to see the ‘on’ and ‘off’ times for the hot water,” he said.

“Again, what you don’t want is for your immersion to be running all day, as this will inevitably add to your energy bills.”

If you’re not sure what you’re doing, ask an engineer to help you run your hot water cylinder more cheaply.

Always use a Gas Safe registered business. Find one by entering your postcode on the Gassaferegister website.

2. Make use of controls

If you have smart controls, this gives you the ability to control your heating and hot water from your phone which will result in higher efficiency in terms of fuel costs, Winston said.

If you don’t have these controls, look at getting them installed.

“You’ll only pay a small, nominal fee to do this,” said Winston.

“You can then remotely control when the heating comes on or off.

"It really is something households should consider as it could have a significant impact on your costs, and particularly if you have a large property.”

3. Lower your temperature

Winston recommended checking what temperature your boiler and cylinder are set at.

Many boilers are set to heat to as much as 75-80°C, but lots of homes with condensing combi boilers can be suitably warmed with heating flow temperatures of 50-70°C or lower.

“You may find you can turn the hot water down in your property so it’s at a comfortable heat, rather than boiling,” he said.

“Some boiler settings can also be turned down to regulate the heat.”

According to Which? If you have a combi boiler you could shave around £112 off your annual heating bill by turning down your boiler flow temperature.

Your boiler uses less gas and operates more efficiently, meaning cost savings while still keeping your home warm.

A boiler engineer can help you find the right flow temperature.

4. Use your valves

Winston pointed out that radiators are usually fitted with thermostatic valves.

“These TRVs allow you to regulate the temperature of each individual radiator in your home,” he said.

This means you can ensure each room of your house is as warm as you need it to be.

It also means you won’t waste money keeping rooms overly warm when you’re not using them.

According to Nesta, readjusting existing TRVs outside the living room to one setting lower than it currently is can save households £68 on a typical annual gas bill.

5. Get your boiler checked

Often a boiler can be working at low efficiency, which means it’s not performing at its full potential.

Winston urged households to get their boilers serviced.

“If you identify a small issue early enough, such as a leak, it can be resolved,” he said.

“But if you leave it too late, you could find yourself faced with a costly repair bill.

"Worse, you may even have to replace your boiler.”

Winston advised getting your boiler and heating system checked regularly.

A regular service can help to prevent bigger issues developing, maximising your boiler’s lifespan of between 10 to 15 years.

A one-off boiler service will usually cost between £80 and £150. Once again, always use a Gas Safe engineer.

6. Update your old boiler

If your boiler is more than 10 years old, it may be a non-condensing boiler, said Winston.

“This effectively means it runs at a much lower efficiency than a modern boiler, and will be costing you a lot more,” he said.

“If you do have an old boiler, it’s worth looking to replace it.”

Be aware a new boiler usually means a big expense upfront, but you may be eligible for grants.

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According to the Energy Saving Trust, a straightforward gas boiler replacement, plus TRVs, could set you back as much as £4,000.

The good news is, it could mean a saving of around 30% a year on your gas bills, so, over time, you will recoup the cost.

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