Did you know that more than half the money you spend on energy bills goes towards heating your home? So it goes that by ensuring that your boiler is efficient, you will be able to benefit from lower energy costs.
In many cases, buying a new boiler can help you achieve this goal. Unfortunately, they are usually expensive. But this doesn’t mean old boilers are not as efficient as new ones, you can still make them run efficiently.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can make your old or new boiler run at peak efficiency.
Measuring boiler efficiency
There are several ways to measure a boiler’s efficiency, and while each method uses a different calculation, they are easily understandable. They include:
Almost all new boilers have an ErP energy label with a ranking from A to G; the most efficient ones will have an A rating while G denotes the most inefficient.
This acronym stands for Seasonal Efficiency of a Domestic Boiler in the UK, and there are two systems:
- SEDBUK 2009 – This system uses percentages to measure efficiency. Compared to the ErP, A is equivalent to an efficiency of 90% and above while G refers to an efficiency which is below 70%.
- SEDBUK 2005 – This is an older system that many boiler manufacturers still use.
The most efficient modern boilers
New boilers are certainly more efficient than old ones. According to AcfPlumbingandHeating.com, older boilers generally run at 70% efficiency. As a result, you are paying the same costs but getting less heat. Also, the potential for breakdowns increases as a boiler gets older. If you don’t want to face the prospect of having no heat during the cold autumn and winter months, it may make sense to replace your old boiler.
Today, condensing boilers are considered to be the best on the market in terms of efficiency. Because of the modern heat exchanger, these boilers can recover more energy from the condensing vapour.
By contrast, older boilers use large cast-iron exchangers which lose a lot of energy during operation.
Still, getting the most appropriate boiler is dependent on several factors, such as:
- The size and type of your home
- Amount of hot water used
- Fuel type
Tips for improving boiler efficiency
A regular annual check-up can help ensure that your boiler runs efficiently. In fact, even the removal of dirt and corrosion is beneficial.
Benefits of regular check-ups
- Lower electricity costs – A central heating system running at peak efficiency can convert heat using less energy. This will result in a warmer home but at a lower cost.
- Keep your home safe – There are several reasons why shouldn’t put off servicing your boiler. For example, it will help to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, which accounts for approximately 4,000 hospital visits every year. By having your boiler checked at least once a year, you can avoid suffering a similar fate.
- Keep repairs to a minimum – Regular check-ups can uncover any faults, allowing you to repair them before they get worse. Normal faults which engineers can fix quickly include issues with the radiators, thermostat, timer or controller.
- Insurance purposes – Most UK insurance companies now require homeowners to arrange regular boiler services in order to validate any claims.
How often should you have your boiler serviced?
Consider getting your boiler serviced every year. Also, it is better to call an engineer immediately if you have forgotten to have it checked in the last 12 months.
When is best time for servicing a boiler?
If it’s not an emergency situation, you should arrange to have your boiler checked during the summer or early autumn. It is important that your boiler is in good condition before winter arrives as otherwise, your home will be susceptible to the cold weather. Also, you may find it difficult to book a boiler engineer later in the year.
Servicing and parts replacement
You can further improve your boiler’s efficiency by:
- Installing modern heating controls or thermostats
- Cleaning the pipework and radiators
Some service engineers even use thermal imaging technology to look for blockages in the heating system. If you suspect that there’s something in the pipes or radiators, it is best to ask your engineer to use infrared imaging sensors. This technique will help them pinpoint the problem and save you both time and money.
Adjusting the settings on your boiler
Often, knowing what your boiler’s correct settings are can help you keep your energy bills down. Of course, this will depend on the type of boiler or the changing seasons.
You should also consider who lives in your home. If you have children, or old or vulnerable people live with you, make sure that you do not set the boiler’s temperature too high. If you’re unsure about the correct adjustments, please consult a boiler engineer.
Here are the recommended settings for the various boilers in use today.
- Conventional – For hot water tanks with thermostats, the temperature should be between 55°C and 60°C during the summer months. To combat the winter cold, you can turn it up to 80°C.
- Combination – If your boiler has two controls, the setting for hot water should be at 80°C, while the temperature setting can range from 55°C to 60°C. If there’s only a single dial, you can set the maximum temperature to 80°C.
- Back – These boilers are usually situated behind a gas fire. A higher setting means hotter radiators, heating the room quickly and efficiently. The temperature control is either under the fire or at the side and the setting is often between 40°C and 80°C.
About gas boilers
Concerns have been raised about banning the installation of gas boilers in new homes by 2025. The goal of this government policy is to reduce carbon emissions. However, how will a new homeowner heat their house without a gas boiler?
The government proposes using heat pumps or ‘high-tech’ insulation as alternatives. While there is not a great deal of information about the latter, the former has proven itself in terms of heating homes.
Many properties being built today are using heat pumps. However, this requires too much space and installation is labour-intensive. Also, air-source heat pumps cannot provide consistent heat when the seasons change. Despite the best intentions, the costs and installation difficulties involved with heat pumps may prompt lawmakers to reverse the gas boiler ban.
A boiler’s efficiency tends to deteriorate as it becomes older. While installing a new boiler is preferable, regular checks and maintenance can prolong an old boiler’s service life. If you do get a new boiler, remember to check its energy efficiency rating. You should also consider alternatives to gas boilers, especially if you’re building a new home.
Florin Bolojan writes for ACF Plumbing and Heating. It’s based in Corby but their service covers the whole of Northamptonshire. The company has more than two decades of combined experience in plumbing services, boiler installations, service, and maintenance. Also, they are Gas Safe Approved installers and provide free quotes.