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Is it cheaper to leave the heating on all day?

What we’ll cover…

  • Heating myths surrounding leaving the heating on low all day being a more energy-efficient solution
  • How the continuous running of heating will waste energy via poor insulation
  • Expert advice about why reheating a home expends less energy than constant heating
  • Tips and recommendations for the testing of heating methods for a designated period to work out the most cost-effective approach
  • Why the use of a timer/thermostat for intermittent heating programmes is most conducive to decreased energy bills

Can you save money by keeping the heating on?

Afternoon tea. Going down the pub. Sunday roast. All brilliant British pastimes depending on who you ask.

But saving money on energy bills could count as a left-field entry to that list as well.

The volume of people we come across asking if it is cheaper to leave the heating on all day suggests as much!

So we thought we’d take a deep dive into this common query, investigating the best means for you to save cash on your heating costs.

And ultimately answering the question, does it work out cheaper to leave your heating on all day?

British sterling money in notes and pound coins

Keeping your central heating on low vs turning it on & off

According to the experts at the Energy Savings Trust, the idea that you can save money by keeping your central heating permanently on low is a myth. 

This is mainly because of problems with home insulation. If your house is old or draughty, for example, heat will be leaking out through windows and doors.

While leaving your heating on all the time will mean your boiler is constantly using energy to keep the temperature at a set level, with poor insulation it will have to work even harder to maintain this temperature.

An inefficient boiler, which already uses a lot of energy to run, is only going to add to the problem.

Despite the above facts, some engineers still maintain that keeping your boiler on low all the time can save you money – in the short term at least.

This is because turning your boiler on and off regularly will mean your boiler will need to use more energy to heat your home from cold to the desired temperature.

The most energy-efficient way to heat your home

At the base of it, the argument for leaving central heating on all day has a simple origin. It stems from a belief that extra energy will be required to return the space to a comfortable temperature once it has been decided to turn the heating off.

The theory is that there is little point spending valuable time heating up your home only to allow it to lose heat and cool down again. Plus, many simply hate waiting for their heating system to boot up properly, and start infiltrating warmth throughout the house.

That said, by leaving your heating on for 24 hours, seven days a week, you’re obviously bound to expend more heat and run the risk of losing energy all day. You can guarantee there’ll be heat lost due to the contrast between the heat outside the home, and the temperature level you want to maintain within the property.

Therefore, if you insist on leaving the heating on constantly, your heating system will be working overtime just to retain your preferred indoor temperature. The more heat you lose, the more energy you’ll need to keep the inside area warm – hardly conducive to lower heating bills!

A much more effective move in the battle to lower energy costs is to ensure that your home has proper insulation. Double-glazed windows, draught-proof doors and dynamic loft insulation are all worthy of consideration to save you money in the long run.

The most energy-efficient way to heat your home is to programme your heating system so that it switches on only when required most. Modern heating developments have only served to make this process more streamlined, and better tailored to the exact needs of the homeowner.

For instance, contemporary thermostat models will allow different temperatures to be set at different times, with alternate programming also available for weekends.

By using a timed boiler and thermostat in accompaniment with radiator temperature controls, you’re adopting the most energy-efficient method to heating your home possible.

Close up of feet in grey slipper socks holding green mug

Testing the theory

Don’t just take our word for it. You can put our theory to the test if your home is already set up with good quality insulation.

Try out the timed method and then experiment by having your heating system switched on for 24 hours at a time. You can ascertain whether it is cheaper to leave the heating on constantly, or whether you’ll enjoy lower heating costs by programming the system to turn on at specific intervals.

Trial the respective methods over a week-long period apiece. After that, you’ll have enough of a sample to denote which heating approach is the best one to adopt specific to your property.

You can collate the data you need by taking a reading from your energy meter at the start of the week, and then again at the end of it.

For the best and most reliable results, try to test each method when the outdoor conditions and temperature are similar. It should be quite clear which method is the most energy efficient for your home in its current state.

Then you can work out how insulation can affect your home heating bills.

Modern round digital thermostat on white wall background

The importance of insulation

Regardless of the results of your heating approach experiment, one fail-safe means to enhance your home’s energy efficiency is to install proper insulation. Where to begin, though?

For homes with significant attic space, loft insulation offers the perfect vice for you to ‘dip your toe’ in the wide world of insulation. Though inexpensive and simple to fit, loft insulation can save you money aplenty over time.

You might have existing loft insulation that was fitted a while ago. If so, it might be worth performing a check on your insulation levels. Most often, older loft insulation will be at a lower level than is recommended today, so an insulation top up might be the order of the day.

But loft insulation isn’t the only highly effective method for making long-term savings on energy bills. You’ll have to make a significantly bigger initial outlay to source and fit wall insulation comparative to loft insulation.

Furthermore, you’ll likely need professional assistance to complete the installation. However, you’ll reap the financial rewards in due course.

There are two types of wall insulation to select between. If your house was built after the 1930s, it is likely to include cavity walls. These are made up of an inner and outer wall, with cavity wall insulation filling the gap between each.

Professional in blue cap and T-shirt and white mask inspecting foam heating insulation

The process involves the drilling of small holes into the walls, with these gaps then padded out with insulation material.

The insulation of solid walls can be comparatively more troublesome and costly, but it is possible to achieve. We’d recommend seeking professional advice and assistance for this sort of project.

Meanwhile, there are more subtle adjustments you can make within your property to bolster its energy efficiency, even if you decide against going all in on insulation.

The simplest change you can make is to introduce draught proofing, which entails gap-filling around the edges of windows and doors. And for the very best results, you need to think outside the box somewhat, considering even obscure fittings and fixtures such as chimneys or letterboxes.

One huge advantage of draught proofing is its extremely low cost. Plus, the fact that you can complete the work yourself. Expanding foam is a popular draught proofing material, especially for windows, and will be readily available to buy online, or from any DIY store worth its salt.

Windows are another obvious point of heat loss, but in being so pose an easily rectifiable issue. Double-glazing is commonplace in modern homes, and is sure to assist in the prevention of heat loss.

Positioning your radiator beneath the window is another popular trick. And you can also curtail the amount of heat lost by shutting the curtains in colder times, and opening them up to allow in sunlight when it’s warmer outside.

To maximise the effect of your curtains, you can opt to add insulating covers to them to reflect extra heat.

Right hand adjusting settings on white rectangular modern digital thermostat

So, is it cheaper to leave the heating on all day?

In conclusion, we’d file the notion that it’s cheaper to leave the heating on all day under ‘popular misconception’ as opposed to ‘outright myth’.

A well-insulated home that only uses the heating system at specified intervals (when required) offers the best means to preserve energy, and save on heating bills.

If your heating is switched on all day, you’re wasting a certain amount of energy for the entire day. Just how much depends on how well insulated your property is.

The better insulated your home is, the less heat it will require in more sporadic spells. As such, less energy is expended and lower energy bills ensue.

Ultimately then, the key to cost effective home heating isn’t to leave the system on all day every day. It will save you money in the long run to properly insulate your home, ensuring you won’t need to use as much energy to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

It’s also a good idea to compare energy suppliers to find out if you can get more heat for your sheets. Run an energy comparison to see how much you could save.

Central heating: Money saving tips

Here are some straightforward tips that can help you save money on your energy bills.

Upgrade your boiler

Getting your boiler serviced annually will keep it both safe and working efficiently.

This is especially important as the autumn and winter approaches and usage increases. An efficient boiler uses less energy to heat a house, which means regular services can help keep energy costs lower. 

If your boiler is more than 12-15 years old, however, it may be time for an upgrade.

While a new boiler can be expensive (usually upwards of £1,000), they are a good investment as a newer model will significantly cut your bills.

This is because modern boilers are all condensing boilers, which have a large heat exchanger. This means more heat is recovered and cooler gases are sent up the flue, making it more efficient. 

To put it into numbers: new A rated boilers (any boiler over a 90% efficiency) can give you 90p or more worth of heat for every £1 you put in.

That’s in contrast to 60-80p for every £1 in older models. Replacing your old boiler also has benefits for the environment. This is because a more efficient boiler will use less fuel to heat your house, reducing your carbon footprint.

Turn the temperature down

During your room temperature down by just 1 degree it can help cut bills by up to an impressive 10%. Experts recommend a room temperature of around 18-21 degrees Celsius during winter.

Insulation

Aside from upgrading your boiler, insulation is the most important and cost-effective way to reduce your central heating costs and make your house greener. 

  • Roof insulation

When it comes to insulating your house, your roof should be the first place you look to. This is because a roof can be responsible for more than 35% of the heat lost in a house. Roof insulation is the cheapest and quickest way to stop heat escaping and the material used for this purpose can even be installed by keen DIY-ers. 

  • Wall and floor insulation

After the roof, walls and floors are the next thing to tackle. Most houses built after 1930 have cavity walls, which means there are two walls with a gap between them. Filling this cavity with foam insulation is key to preventing any heat escaping. You won’t be able to do the same for older houses with solid walls houses, however, so you’ll have to find ways to insulate either internally or externally. 

  • Window insulation

In most houses, windows account for around 10 percent of heat loss. Luckily, the installation of double or triple glazing can significantly reduce any losses. The gaps between the panes of glass are filled with air, which is a poor conductor of heat. Other tricks, like closing your curtains at night and opening them when it is sunny is a cheaper and more natural way to keep heat in your house.

The final word on central heating

While there is clear disagreement amongst experts on this topic, most do come down on the side of using a thermostat to ensure your heating only turns on when necessary. However, when it comes to cost saving, there are a few things they all agree on. These include:

  • Keeping your boiler efficient by having it serviced regularly
  • Upgrading your old boiler to a new model if you can 
  • Keeping your house well insulated to avoid heat escaping 
  • Turning the temperature of your rooms down where possible

Regardless of whether you choose to turn your heating on and off, or keep it on at constant low level, minimising the amount of heat lost from your property through better insulation is always good idea. In the long run, doing so will help you save on bills and cause less harm to the environment.

Stay safe and happy heating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Insulation is the cheapest and most important means to decrease long-term central heating running costs and make for a greener home outside of a boiler upgrade.

Roof insulation is the first port of call, as this area can cause at least 35% of heat loss in a house. It is also the lowest price material to purchase and provides the quickest means to prevent the escape of heat in a home, generated by your radiators or other heating devices.

Wall and floor insulation are next to consider, with the majority of houses built in the last century featuring cavity walls with a gap in between. Foam insulation can be padded into this cavity to combat the release of heat. Older houses with solid walls won’t be conducive to this method, so internal or external insulation will be required instead for such properties.

Window insulation is the other option – most households see around 10 per cent of their heat loss stem from window areas. The fitting of double or triple glazing can significantly curtail these losses. Plus, simple hacks like closing the curtains on colder nights and opening them on warm sunny days offers a natural heat retention practice.

For more details, explore our full blog, Is it cheaper to leave the heating on all day?

The main tips to cut heating bills in the long term initially revolve around the boiler. You should service the boiler regularly or upgrade to a modern model if possible to ensure your radiators work at their optimal level of efficiency.

Furthermore, ensure your home is well insulated so it is difficult for heat to escape, and turn down the temperature of the rooms you spend time in where possible so you don’t rack up unnecessary energy costs.

For a deeper insight, explore our blog, Is it cheaper to leave the heating on all day?

It is recommended to make use of a digital thermostat so that your heating switches on and off automatically, only when necessary. As such, you won’t waste unnecessary energy and be running up hefty bills when the heating is not in use and your radiators aren’t switched on.

To find out more, browse our dedicated blog, Is it cheaper to leave the heating on all day?

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