Earth Notes: On the Best Time to Fix Your Home Heating: Summer!

Updated 2021-10-17 15:00 GMT.
By Damon Hart-Davis.
Do not wait until ice is forming on your bath to find out that your heating is broken! Upgrade or fix in summer, test early autumn. #OperationTuneup
DORM1 wall scene

Seasoned Professional Wisdom

boiler being serviced
Seasoned (and seasonal) wisdom is to get your heating checked well before you really need it, and while it's cheap too because no one else is asking!

The wise folks at Best Heating say: Summertime – The Best Time To Change Your Radiators...

Why?

Just for starters:

As those sages intone:

As you might expect, winter is the busiest time of the year for plumbing and heating engineers.

They are not only fitting new boilers and radiators but thanks to Jack Frost they also have to contend with breakdowns and frozen pipework too.

This makes summer a great time to take full advantage of their quieter period and bag yourself an appointment that is more likely to suit your schedule — just don’t tell anyone else or you’ll ruin it for us all!

Spot on!

(Though some suppliers may put prices up before the heating season. Then claim a 'sale' price in September! Hat tip to Marko C.)

What Not To Do

What should you not do?

Plan ahead for toasty toes and lower bills and stress.

Insulation, Insulation, Insulation

boiler open for servicing again

Summer is not just the right time to get heating and boiler maintenance done. Get your radiators cleaned or swapped, or kick off some even bigger jobs.

Summer is also a good time to fix windows and doors and air leaks. And insulation in your loft, walls and elsewhere. When you don't actually need your home to be warmed is just the right time to be working on this!

To know where insulation and the like need fixing, you may have had to think about it the previous winter. Look for cold spots and condensation on exterior walls with a borrowed thermal camera for example.

Blinder

Summer can also be a good time to buy and hang inexpensive reflective blackout blinds to keep out excessive sunshine and heat immediately. They provide extra insulation in winter too. What's not to like?

If you are a tenant and it is your landlord that would need to undertake major works, summer is a good time to nudge them into scheduling those works. Save money and stress all round. A landlord has a legal obligation to rent out a habitable building. A faulty heating system is no part of one of those!

Operation Tuneup

Some actions to save cash and carbon and make you comfortable cost nothing!

You don't even need a heating engineer to visit, though you can ask advice when one is there...

set the thermostat LOW - turn down the radiator FLOW temperature - put on more CLOTHES
Set the house thermostat LOW, turn down the radiator FLOW temperature, put on more CLOTHES! Infographic by Mike Fell and Charlotte Shields.

Unless you are unwell or not very mobile, turn your house stat as low as you can, maybe to 18°C or 19°C, and put more clothes on instead. Get comfy by putting on a second pair of socks, thermals, etc...

If your boiler has a separate dial for the radiator "flow" temperature then turn it down to somewhere near the bottom. (You may want to bump it up a bit again for the very coldest days.) That should allow a modern boiler to do its "condensing" thing, to save lots of carbon and money.

As a bonus, if your heating system works OK down with that dial right down, you'll probably find that a heat-pump works well for you!

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