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  • Range of options to suit different households
  • Can cut your heating bills significantly
  • Helps to keep your home at a comfortable temperature

What it is

Upgrading your heating controls could help you save money, while also making sure that your home is always comfortable. 

All heating control systems essentially do two things – they control when you want the heating on, and how warm you want your home to get when the heating is on. They may also do the same for your hot water. 

There are lots of types of controls available to do this, but a fully controlled heating system should include at least: 

  • A thermostat on the heating source (e.g. a boiler thermostat that sets the temperature of the water that will be pumped from the boiler through the radiators and, for a combination boiler, the hot water)
  • A timer or programmer function – this sets the time for when the heating comes on and when it goes off
  • A room thermostat – this sets the temperature for that room, and turns the heating off when the room gets warmer than this. Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) should NOT be fitted in this room.
  • Thermostatic radiator valves – these are fitted to all of the radiators elsewhere in the house, and they control the temperature in each room

Sometimes the programmer and room thermostat are combined in one unit – a programmable thermostat. You can use this to set different temperatures for different times of day. 

 You can also add other, more advanced, control functions such as: 

Smart heating controls

Smart heating controls allow you to manage your heating system remotely from a computer, tablet or smart phone, and many incorporate other advanced features to control your heating in a more sophisticated way. 

Smart thermostats

  • Programmable room thermostats, which allow you to set different room temperatures at different times of the day.
  • Intelligent delayed start thermostats. These thermostats sense the temperature in the room and delay the start-up of heating your home until the latest possible time. This can result in potential energy savings by allowing you to control when and how long the heating is on during the day.

Zone controls

Zone controls allow you to heat different rooms at different times of the day by having separate heating circuits for different parts of the house, with a separate programmer for each circuit. If you’re fitting a new heating system, then you may want to consider zone controls to help you keep heating costs down. 

Is it right for me?

If you can’t control the time your heating turns on or off, and the temperature throughout the house, then you should consider fitting new heating controls. 

If you can’t control the time your heating turns on or off, and the temperature throughout the house, then you should consider fitting new heating controls. For any central heating system, you should be able to control: 

  • When the heating turns on and off
  • What temperature a key room or space should be at, e.g. living room or hall
  • What temperature each remaining room or space should be at

If you can’t do all of these with your current controls, then you should look at upgrading them. 

If you're having any other work carried out on your heating system, this is the perfect time to consider upgrading your controls. It's often easier and cheaper to have different improvements fitted at the same time. 

Using it

Make sure you understand how your new controls work, so that you can use them to save money and stay warm. 

Every heating control system looks different, and has a different selection of buttons and dials, but they’re all trying to do the same thing. There are two things you need to do: 

  • Work out your strategy for keeping warm without wasting fuel
  • Understand how the heating controls in your house can make this happen

Generally, your strategy should be to set thermostats so that you are warm enough, but not too warm, when the heating is on. You should set your programmer so that your heating comes on shortly before you get up or come home, and goes off shortly before you go out or go to bed. 
If everyone is out during the day, then the heating should be off for this time. If you're at home during the day, you may find you're comfortable with a lower temperature at this time. 
If there is anyone at home who is old or infirm, you may need to keep the thermostat a little higher.