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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Energy Efficiency Resolutions for 2011

Domestic heating is a key area where we, as consumers, can all make costs savings and try to minimise our energy wastage as well as our utility bills.

Below are some key tips for keeping your energy usage and consequently your heating bills down.  

Consider installing Thermostatic Radiator Valves
Thermostatic Radiator Valves, or TRVs, come with an in-built temperature sensor.  A thermostatic valve will maintain a room at the temperature you have selected, by automatically adjusting the heat output from the radiator.
This means that you can make the most of any “free” heat the room receives, such as that from the sun (solar heat gain) or from electrical or gas appliances.  As the valve is controlled automatically, it adjusts itself, ensuring the radiators perform as efficiently as possible, reducing energy waste.  For this reason, TRVs are the environmentally friendly valve choice as they prevent energy being wasted by overheating a room.
There is now a wide range of stylish thermostatic valves available in both contemporary and traditional styles in a variety of finishes.  For instance, Feature Radiators offers a wide range of TRVs on the valves page of their website.  
Please be aware that building regulations require TRVs to be used for all new builds except:
-  For one pair of valves on a system, which can and should be manual, so they can be left fully open at all times.  This is needed to allow the system to function properly. Usually such manual valves will be put on the radiator/towel rail in a bathroom or entranceway, as more constant heating is needed in these areas.
-  In rooms where there is a room thermostat that controls the boiler.
Although not essential, we recommend TRVs for larger radiators (above 1800 watts, or where the radiator is oversized for the room) and for use in kitchens where temperatures tend to fluctuate dramatically (due to additional heat from ovens, fridges and other appliances).
Ensure your central heating system or heaters are on timers
Timers are now available for gas central heating systems, electric radiators and electric central heating systems.  This has been the standard for boiler systems for a while but now they are available on other forms of heating.  For instance, iRad, the electric radiator from Feature Radiators, is available with a wireless controller enabling specific times and temperature modes to be set, minimising energy wastage.  

Insulate, insulate, insulate
The importance of insulation in minimising wasted energy cannot be underestimated alongside the amount of money it can save it on your utility bills.  Improved insulation in your home is guaranteed to dramatically reduce the heat lost through your walls and roof, meaning less requirements for heating and resulting in lower energy usage.    

Look at the possibility of having cavity wall insulation and loft insulation installed.  Many local councils now run schemes encouraging residents to go for better insulation by subsidising the cost, or even waiving the costs entirely.  
Also, better insulation means a lower heat output from your radiators is required.  So if you are thinking of opting for new radiators, then more options are available, as the heat output will not need to be as high.  For advice on choosing radiators with the right heat output for your situation, it is essential you speak to a radiator specialist or qualified heating engineer.  

Consider the future of your heating system
With stocks of gas and oil rapidly depleting, the future of the standard boilers is uncertain.  A movement towards electricity as a cleaner fuel that can be generated from renewable sources is seeing the shift in the type of heating systems that may be installed over the next century.  

Heat pumps are very “in vogue”, but installation costs are high and many properties cannot accommodate or are not suitable this type of system.  

In order to retain your current central heating system and radiators, why not just switch to an electric boiler.  These are currently available but at a relatively high price, but increasing demand is set to see the costs fall and this will provide a simple, practical and inexpensive option for many of us in the years to come.

Other options for modern heating systems include electric central heating that is run by linking independent electric radiators wirelessly.  Without pipework and a boiler, installation costs and disruption can be significantly reduced.  This new electric radiator technology is really taking off due to its practicality, flexibility and efficiency.  

Finally, wear a jumper!
This may seem obvious, but the younger generation often seem to take central heating for granted, and wearing a T-shirt in the house despite sub zero temperatures is deemed quite acceptable by many.  However, this is surely a waste of our precious resources and an unnecessary addition to our carbon footprint.  Also what can be better than snuggling up under a cosy blanket on those frosty winter nights!

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