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Energy myth-busting: Is it cheaper to have heating on all day?
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# 1
MSE Guy
Old 04-12-2012, 6:43 PM
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Default Energy myth-busting: Is it cheaper to have heating on all day?

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Energy myth-busting: Is it cheaper to have heating on all day?
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# 2
Herongull
Old 04-12-2012, 7:03 PM
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This all just seems commonsense. I'm surprised the article was necessary.
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# 3
notanewuser
Old 04-12-2012, 7:09 PM
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My FIL worked for British Gas as a heating engineer for 42 years and swears blind that it should just be left switched on with a thermostat at the temperature you want. He's a (very) tight northerner so I'd be surprised if this weren't the most cost effective option.

I've always hated my OH turning the heating way down/off when we go away for weekends, only to come back to a freezing cold house and no hot water. Now that we have a toddler there's no way I'm letting him do that, so ours is on with a thermostat set to 20. Lovely.
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# 4
WestonDave
Old 04-12-2012, 7:18 PM
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Ye canna change the laws of physics!

If you want to change water from its liquid state to its gas state in order to get it out of the washing, you will have to use energy. Whether you do that by using a dryer or by making the heating work harder, you will use the same amount of energy. The heating might be cheaper per kWh but its less directed so you may end up heating the whole house for longer rather than a small drum. Vented dryers are wasteful of energy as the heat all goes outside whereas at least with a condensor dryer the heat stays in the house and offsets that from a well controlled heating system.

Which brings me to the first comment - there is such a thing (widely available) as a programmable thermostat which combines timer and stat - which is better than either option listed. The problem with timers is that if you are going to run the heating flat out on a timer you end up heating the house too hot in order that as it cools when the heating is off, it still stays warm enough. A programmable stat still allows it to be off when you are out (or cooler at night etc) but avoids the wasteful overheating.
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# 5
Cardew
Old 04-12-2012, 7:20 PM
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1. Well firstly please make this thread a sticky as the 'Cheaper all day v timed' question comes up a dozen times each year.

The normal variation of that question is:

'Which is cheaper - on 24/7 at, say 15C or in timed bursts to 20C'

A question nobody can answer!

2. The EST have a fixation about standby consumption. The manufacturers got to grip with that problem many years ago and standby consumption for, say, TVs is tiny - fractions of a watt. You can leave a modern(up to 10 years old) TV on standby 24/7 for a year and the cost is pence. Even the worst of my TV's - an old 32" CRT has a standby consumption of 0.6 watts. so left on 24/7 it will cost 63p a year with electricity at 12p/kWh.

Obviously any saving by switching off at wall is welcome, but the emphasis on standby consumption leads many people to think it is the major cause of high electricity bills - and it aint! We get countless posts complaining about high electricity bills and nearly all are at pains to point out that they switch off TV at wall.

3. This is misleading IMO:

Quote:

Should I turn individual radiators down at the valve or will it only make a difference if controlled via the main thermostat?


a. There's little difference. By turning your radiators down or
off using thermostatic radiator valves on the side of them, or by reducing your
room temperature via a thermostat, you decrease the amount of heat your heating
system has to generate.





Your room thermostat only switches your heating off when the set temperature
has been achieved, so turning your thermostatic radiator valves down will mean
your radiators will not get as hot and will gently heat your home to the set
temperature.


If you have them on high, your radiators will emit lot of heat until the set
temperature is met.
That might apply to the TRVs and thermostat in the same room. However the purpose of TRVs is also to control the warmth of other rooms. Most people would want their bedrooms set to a low temperature during the day which you can achieve with a TRV. e.g a reception room set to 21C and bedrooms to 16C

4. The recommendation to use an airer instead of a tumble dryer is questionable in modern houses that are almost hermetically sealed!! The problems of condensation and mould can be serious.
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# 6
Cardew
Old 04-12-2012, 7:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notanewuser View Post
My FIL worked for British Gas as a heating engineer for 42 years and swears blind that it should just be left switched on with a thermostat at the temperature you want. He's a (very) tight northerner so I'd be surprised if this weren't the most cost effective option.

I've always hated my OH turning the heating way down/off when we go away for weekends, only to come back to a freezing cold house and no hot water. Now that we have a toddler there's no way I'm letting him do that, so ours is on with a thermostat set to 20. Lovely.
Well your FIL is completely wrong!

You say that you leave heating set at 20 when away for the weekend.

If you were away for two years, would you leave it set to 20C?
How about a month? A week? At what point do you feel the laws of physics don't apply?
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# 7
notanewuser
Old 04-12-2012, 7:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardew View Post
Well your FIL is completely wrong!

You say that you leave heating set at 20 when away for the weekend.

If you were away for two years, would you leave it set to 20C?
How about a month? A week? At what point do you feel the laws of physics don't apply?
No, that's not what I said (is it?).

What I meant was its set to 20 when we're here, and then left on at about 15-16 when away (so that we don't come back to a 5 degree house that takes days to warm up). If we were away for a fortnight or more in winter we'd leave it set to 10-12 degrees to stop pipes freezing. The heating is off in summer.
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# 8
sheffield lad
Old 04-12-2012, 7:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardew View Post
Well your FIL is completely wrong!
You say that you leave heating set at 20 when away for the weekend.

If you were away for two years, would you leave it set to 20C?
How about a month? A week? At what point do you feel the laws of physics don't apply?
It really does depend on the insulation and the type of stat. I have a digital room stat and house is insulated well. I was in all day Sunday and the heating never fired up all day the room stat was set to 20. If I go away in the winter period I normally set the stat for around 16 degrees.

I never use a timer as I can't see the point of being cold and waiting for the heating to fire up at a certain time. I use the room stat so during the day 20 deg, sat down at night in my boxers lol 22deg, overnight 20 (although I have only heard it fire up a few times over the colder nights a week or so ago).

My wife works from home so house is never empty boiler is 11yrs old but running it like this never gives me a large bill 56 per month over the year which I consider not bad at all.
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# 9
ariba10
Old 04-12-2012, 7:42 PM
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Physics is not a strong subject on M S E ?
I used to be indecisive but now I am not sure.
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# 10
notanewuser
Old 04-12-2012, 7:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariba10 View Post
Physics is not a strong subject on M S E ?
Come on then, Prof Brian Cox.
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# 11
Cardew
Old 04-12-2012, 7:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notanewuser View Post
No, that's not what I said (is it?).

What I meant was its set to 20 when we're here, and then left on at about 15-16 when away (so that we don't come back to a 5 degree house that takes days to warm up). If we were away for a fortnight or more in winter we'd leave it set to 10-12 degrees to stop pipes freezing. The heating is off in summer.
That is exactly what you said:

Quote:
I've always hated my OH turning the heating way down/off when we go away for weekends, only to come back to a freezing cold house and no hot water. Now that we have a toddler there's no way I'm letting him do that, so ours is on with a thermostat set to 20. Lovely.
Note - no mention of '15/16'
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# 12
notanewuser
Old 04-12-2012, 7:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardew View Post
That is exactly what you said:



Note - no mention of '15/16'
Apologies. Haven't slept for 3 days due to toddler being poorly and DH being away. And now I'm coming down with it so nothing makes much sense.
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# 13
grahamc2003
Old 04-12-2012, 8:31 PM
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Q.
Should I use a tumble dryer, or place washing on an airer with heating on?

a. An airer is better because tumble dryers use a lot of energy.

Try timing it so you put your washing out on a clothes horse during the hours your heating comes on. Normally, that way you wouldn't use any more energy.


To anyone who's property either has, or is close to having, high humidity and/or damp problems, this is without doubt extremely bad advice, and the the last sentence is simply incorrect.
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# 14
sheffield lad
Old 04-12-2012, 8:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grahamc2003 View Post

To anyone who's property either has, or is close to having, high humidity and/or damp problems, this is without doubt extremely bad advice, and the the last sentence is simply incorrect.
True but there is never an easy answer which is why myths exist, but being as we are on the subject of saving money for me airing cloths near a heat source is sensible. Of course if this advice was to be given directly and there were issues with damp/condensation ventilation suggestions would need to be used.

So many people leave their washing lines empty even on sunny days and throw everything in the dryer, if the costs were known (back of a fag packet 30-50p per hour depending on brand and efficiency), I am sure more folk would use the heat from their radiators.
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oldskoo1
Old 04-12-2012, 9:12 PM
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Oh god, here we go again

Opened up another can of worms

Trying to figure out what is cheaper is actually quite difficult. So many things to consider, like the outside temperature, the inside temperature, the starting temperature, whether it's a sunny day, a windy day or a rainy day. Which orientation your house is, what level of insulation you have, drafts, windows. The list is practically endless.

One thing is for sure, leaving it on all day at a similar temperature to timed is going to use more gas. It might only be 15 a month extra, that all depends on running tests in your house and reading the meter.

The most balanced advice possible which would apply to most people is to have it on timed and put the temperature as low as you feel comfortable.

Temperature wise, the hall in my house is large and cold, so 16c on the thermostat equals 21c in the living room / sitting room and 19c in the bedrooms. For us thats nice a warm without it feeling to stuffy.

The advice about drying clothes in doors isn't great, try to time your wash days with sunny days, and the times where this is impossible then tumble dryer it is.

Also some things do need to be turned off standby. Believe it or not, a microwave consumes more electricity per year maintaining the clock timer than it does in average use.

You can save a quarter on your TV energy bill by turning down the back lighting on LED / Plasma sets to levels that are still natural and comfortable to watch.

Half the cost of broadband router use by turning it off overnight when it isn't used. My set top box uses 11watts in standby so that is off overnight. Granted these things are tiny compared to electric heating, kettles, fridges, washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers. But it's habit now.

Last edited by oldskoo1; 04-12-2012 at 9:16 PM.
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# 16
Herongull
Old 04-12-2012, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notanewuser View Post
My FIL worked for British Gas as a heating engineer for 42 years and swears blind that it should just be left switched on with a thermostat at the temperature you want. He's a (very) tight northerner so I'd be surprised if this weren't the most cost effective option.

I've always hated my OH turning the heating way down/off when we go away for weekends, only to come back to a freezing cold house and no hot water. Now that we have a toddler there's no way I'm letting him do that, so ours is on with a thermostat set to 20. Lovely.
But surely it is obvious that this is nonsense! Makes you wonder about heating engineers.

Of course you are wasting money (and energy) if you have the heating on while you are away for the simple reason that whenever the house is warmer than the outside, heat is lost to the outside, and the rate of loss is proportional to the temperature difference.

So heating the house while you are out = wasted money, and the warmer you have the house while you are out, the greater the wasted money. The longer you have the house heated, the greater the wasted money.

I can't even think where this silly myth came from - it doesn't even seem plausible.
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# 17
Herongull
Old 04-12-2012, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by howee View Post
It really does depend on the insulation and the type of stat. I have a digital room stat and house is insulated well. I was in all day Sunday and the heating never fired up all day the room stat was set to 20. If I go away in the winter period I normally set the stat for around 16 degrees.

I never use a timer as I can't see the point of being cold and waiting for the heating to fire up at a certain time. I use the room stat so during the day 20 deg, sat down at night in my boxers lol 22deg, overnight 20 (although I have only heard it fire up a few times over the colder nights a week or so ago).

My wife works from home so house is never empty boiler is 11yrs old but running it like this never gives me a large bill 56 per month over the year which I consider not bad at all.
This approach wastes an awful lot of money and energy. If your house really is well insulated then it would heat up quickly. If it doesn't heat up quickly, improve your insulation, but it is crazy to compensate for poor insulation by running your heating all the time.

It is bizarre to have the house at 20 overnight. Turn the heating off at night and get a good duvet. The greater the difference between the inside and outside temperatures (outside is usually coldest at night), the greater the rate of heat loss.
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# 18
macman
Old 04-12-2012, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notanewuser View Post
No, that's not what I said (is it?).

What I meant was its set to 20 when we're here, and then left on at about 15-16 when away (so that we don't come back to a 5 degree house that takes days to warm up). If we were away for a fortnight or more in winter we'd leave it set to 10-12 degrees to stop pipes freezing. The heating is off in summer.
That's a completely different hypothesis to your original one. Yes, of course if you leave it on 15C/16C rather than off, then it will heat up to 20C much more quickly. But it certainly won't be cheaper than if you'd left it off-it will cost far more.
So many people like you ask this question at this time of year, initially suggesting that leaving it on low all the time is cheaper. What they actually mean is that is more comfortable, which is not disputed, but that's a different argument.
All you need to do in winter is set the programmer to come on a little earlier so that the extra time needed to reach the required temp at the required time is allowed for. Or buy a programmer with an optimiser or weather compensation that does it for you.
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# 19
Cardew
Old 04-12-2012, 11:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herongull View Post

I can't even think where this silly myth came from - it doesn't even seem plausible.
The myth - and it is a myth - comes from the false logic that it takes more energy to heat a house from cold than keep the heating 'topped up'!

Strange therefore that these people don't keep a kettle or saucepan simmering at boiling point all day, because using their logic that must be cheaper than heating the water from cold when required!
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# 20
macman
Old 04-12-2012, 11:10 PM
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I can't imagine why MSE Guy is perpetuating this stupid myth by starting a 'debate' that has been done to death on here every time the weather turns chilly!
Might as well start a thread on whether Neil Armstrong really walked on the moon...
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