Your Central Heating System – Time For A Spring Review

Now that it’s April and the utility price hikes are appearing, it’s as good a time as any to see where you can make some savings on your energy bills.  Both British Gas and SSE (who provide our electricity) have both written to me to inform me that prices are rising.

Cynically, I rather suspect this could be something to do with the latest push to get everyone on to smart meters which, I have to say, I am still loath to do.  There are rumours of faulty reporting by these gadgets, as well as the potential risk of surge pricing.  The next time we all rush to put the kettle on during a break in Corrie, it could end up costing us dearly!

Living in an older house like ours also means that you might need to keep the central heating on a little longer to stave off the threat of damp and, if you managed to buy a washing machine without a tumble drier (god knows how we managed that), then you’ll be relying on line drying (good luck) or dotting the radiators with your attractive collection of slightly past-it underwear.

Central heating systems in older houses definitely need a little more care, we’ve found. My tip would be to have a very good look at the current system and pipework before you move into a new property.  Don’t just assume the boiler is in good working order.

Have a look to see who manufactured the boiler.  Ask how old it is and whether there is any paperwork you can have.  Is there a service contract already in place?

Our boiler is an old Italian made one (seriously!) which British Gas refused point blank to insure and which appears to have mood swings.  It is prone to sudden drops in pressure so I have to get down on my hands and knees with a torch and top up the water level.

Needless to say, our boiler’s favourite time to cut out is as soon as someone gets in the shower. The risk of splinters from our wooden floorboards is not to be laughed at, I can tell you!

There are loads of central heating boilers on the market and it really is worth doing your research.  Worcester is perhaps the best-known name for reliable boilers.

The local engineering company who carry out our annual boiler service recommend that you don’t automatically buy the cheapest.  A cheap boiler may not necessarily mean replacement parts are inexpensive.  You might not get a decent guarantee and a cheap boiler might well give up the ghost when you need it most.  Trying to find a heating engineer in the depths of winter can often be time-consuming and expensive.

You might also want to assess whether you need to replace leaky or faulty radiators.  The husband is forever looking for an allen key to bleed our upstairs radiators.  If heat isn’t being distributed correctly through your house, it could be costing you. No point heating an upstairs bedroom to maximum when everyone else is downstairs watching TV!

Lastly, your radiators could be a design feature in your house (not covered in underwear, obviously).  There are plenty of retro and minimalistic designs to consider, as well as different shaped ones to fit in smaller spaces.

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  1. Fiona jk42
    2 April, 2019 / 11:10 pm

    When we moved into our house, we knew the boiler was on its last legs. We installed a new boiler 6 months later, opting for a good quality one. Now this boiler has also stopped working. The manufacturer disclaims all responsibility, blaming it on the pipework in the house. Apparently we should have installed a gadget to catch bits of metal in the pipes. Very annoyed that when we had the boiler installed, neither the plumber nor the place we bought the boiler from mentioned this.

    • linda
      3 April, 2019 / 7:40 am

      I have never heard of that before. Sounds decidedly suspect to me. Could you get a second opinion from an independent heating engineer?

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