Energy Saving Tips

This page gives some very general energy-saving discussion. (Click to Jump to heat pumps below)

1. Consider some SERIOUS insulation. Consider what savings would be made over the lifetime of the building. Wall insulation is important. Internal insulation can be done room by room by various methods. External wall insulation may be an expensive option,  but could be a worthwhile investment.

2. Insulate all pipework where appropriate (unheated areas) . Focus on your boiler room, since there is no reason for a boiler-room to be hot. There are many thousands of miles of pipe losing heat to areas that don’t need heating. There are various wall thickness of pipe lagging to choose from but sadly, thick-wall can be disproportionally expensive. Sometimes, 2 layers of thinner-wall type can be used. Bear in mind that any split types can lose a surprising amount of heat at the slit, so glue the split or bind the insulation on well with tape etc.

3. If you have thermostatic radiator valves, adjust them carefully and properly. They are actually quite accurate, but sometimes appear to be fickle since some tend to operate in ‘bursts’ (this is not unusual). If you set them carefully to say number 2, you will find the room is kept at a constant low-ish temperature. Don’t be surprised if the radiator seems cold on some occasions, and hot on others. This could be normal. Make small adjustents bit-by-bit, and wait a couple of hours to see how the room temperure changes… be patient.

4. Improve your control system, this can save a lot of energy. Fit easy-to-use time clocks and thermostats, but keep it simple.  It can be better to have ‘reduced’ night temperatures rather than ‘off’ overnight.

5. If it takes a considerable time before the water ‘runs hot’ after turning a tap on, there should be be scope for saving heat and water. You might have an overly large-bore hot feed pipe, so it may be worth considering reduce the diameter, or taking the pipe on a more direct route. You could also consider taking multiple smaller-bore pipe directly to single taps. For example, your kitchen tap, which is often the most frequently used? Hand basins could have small-bore feed pipes coming from a distribution manifold near the cylinder/boiler. (see DHW page)
For a sink a long distance away, a point-of-use electric heater might be a good option (one without storage).
Another option is to fit much smaller pipe and fit a flow-sensing boost pump a bit like the Grundfos SSR2-2.0 type.

6. Make sure that your heating system is properly serviced.

7. Recent regulations require all new products to have ‘A’ rated low-energy circulation pumps. If your system has an old circulator, you could consider fitting a new low-energy type. e.g. Grundfos Alpha or the Wilo Yonos Pico to name only two. You should be able to calculate the expected saving over several years.  More saving is made for circulators that are running for a lot of the time, e.g. underfloor heating circulators.

8. Try to get better heating controls. Many are tedious to set and difficult to review the settings. We should really be able to get good, very easy to set, controls in this modern age, but controls seem slow to improve.

9. Fit a whole-house electricity monitor. It will probably surprise you how much electricity is wasted at certain times.   A SmartMeter should come with a useful display.

Note, most of these products with a Current Clamp actually measure the current. They are accurate for normal electric heaters, but there will be a considerable error when used with electric motors. e.g. heat pumps. They can be checked or calibrated by running the heat pump whilst counting pulses of your electric meter over a time period. (use a stop-watch) . Electric meters give ‘pulses/kW’. This is printed on your electricity supply meter. Your actual consumption in kW can be calculated from this.

10. Fit low-enery lights.  Turn off unwanted lights (sorry, I was trying not to be a nag).

11. If you have storage heaters then try to adjust them depending on outside temperatures. Try to get an automatic control with outside sensor to do this for you.

15. Look for energy waste. No rooms should be hotter than they need to be.  Improve your heating controls if necessary.

Heat Pumps.

Browse your user manual so that you understand the basics of your system. Become familiar with the setting options.  At first, it may look complex, but given a little time, it should all become clear.

16. Keep the ‘heating curve’ setting (if you have one) as low as possible. (this is the weather-compensation setting). This keeps the temperature of the heated water in your radiators or your underfloor heating as low as possible so that the heat pump is kept happy and efficient. The Weather Compensation function uses an outside temperature sensor to automatically adjust the radiator or floor temperature. Some systems also have inside temperature sensor that can also affect the water temperature. Some systems have an ‘Auto-adapt’ of ‘Room target’ type system where the water slowly adjusts itself automatically to attain the correct indoor temperature. This should give the lowest running costs if its set up correctly.    Do be patient when waiting for your house to warm up. Heat pumps can have a very slow response..  have faith.  A slow-response heat pump is probably very energy-efficient.

17. If you don’t have weather-compensation, adjust the water temperature on the unit to the lowest temperature that will give you sufficient heating.

Adjustments can be made periodically as the seasons change. Don’t forget to turn the control down from time to time as the winter passes. Make a note of settings for next year. For example; 40ºC during winter; 35ºC from Feb; 30ºC from April; 35ºC from October.   (40ºC = 104ºF, 30ºC = 68ºF)

18. Make sure that nothing is restricting the water flow through the heat pump. High flow-rates are desirable.

19. It may be better to keep several room thermostats high, and control the heat down by adjusting the main temperature control or heating curve on the heat pump.  You can experiment by turning all room thermostats up for a day, then reduce the heating curve until the house temperature is about right.

20. If the heat pump runs for only short periods (short cycling), look into the cause. Longer steady run-times are better.   That said, there seems a trend to fit fairly large heat pumps. For these, switching ‘cycling’ on and off may be inevitable.

21. Make sure that all controls are adjusted correctly. If you have a time function set, you may not be saving energy by having short ‘on’ times.  Longer ‘on’ periods with a lower circulating water temperature might be better.

Furthermore, the problem with ‘off’ periods in mid winter is that the house might cool down too much, making it difficult to heat the house up again.

Time/temperature programmable thermostats are better.  e.g. with day temperature to 20ºC and night temperatures to say 18ºC.    It winter, the temperure is not allowed to drop below 18.

22. If you have radiators, consider adding a few more, especially in areas where you would like a little more heat. More radiators are good because you may then be able to turn the water temperature (or curve setting) down a little and save some energy.  Heat pumps are happier when heating ‘tepid’ water

Underfloor heating

24. If you have a heat pump, then it is better to keep zones on for long periods with low water temperature. This is better than warmer water for shorter periods.  Some advocate keeping all zones on, and reduce the circulating temperature.

25. The underfloor system should be designed such that a reasonably low circulation pumping power is required. Pipe diameters should be adequate, and maximum loop length not too long etc. 16mm outside diameter pipe is the most common size, and is considerably less restrictive than 15mm dia.

26. Several of your manifold flow adjuster are likely to need to be fully open. Do not waste pumping power by throttling down flow-restrictors unnecessarily. Shorter loops (e.g. toilets) will need adjusting down to reduce the flow.
Review the speed control setting on your circulation pump. You may, or may not, need the maximum speed. Reducing the pump speed is sometimes false economy, it depends on the components.
All that said, the latest circulation pumps are very energy-efficient, so pumping losses are not the problem that they were.

27. Use plenty of insulation below the ground floor. It is surprising the percentage that can be lost through the floor to the ground


28. Before you resort to air conditioning, undertake some good housekeeping;- fit blinds to all windows that get too much sun. Stopping direct sunlight from shining on surfaces inside the house will reduce over-heating considerably.  Warmer countries have external window shutters for a good reason… they are very effective!

29. Keep the cold in by keeping doors closed as much as possible when the air is hotter outside than in (this habit can be difficult to adopt).

30. Try a ceiling fan. This simple technology only uses a small amount of electricity. These often double-up as a light. They are very common in hot countries.

31. If you must have air-conditioning, avoid adjusting the temperature too low. This can be expensive and energy-wasteful.

32. During a heatwave, minimise any unwanted incident heat gains from anything that uses power, and ventilate as appropriate.

33. Avoid full-sun areas for the outside unit of your air-conditioner if possible. That said, if there is no alternative, then it should not be a show-stopper. Ensure that it gets plenty of fresh air such that it does not re-circulate warm air around itself. Keep the heat-exchanger clean.