HOUSEHOLDS across the country are feeling the squeeze of rising energy bills – but some might be accidentally causing theirs to go up.
Boilers are one of the most used items in our homes and with the chillier months kicking in we're all trying to use them more efficiently.
Currently, thanks to the energy price guarantee, the average household pays an average of £2,500 for gas and electricity and this is limited until April 2023.
From there it will rise to £3,000.
But since you could pay more if you use more energy, it's important to keep an eye out for common mistakes that could cost you more.
Daniel Khanlarpour has been a gas engineer for 16 years and has pretty much seen it all when it comes to boilers.
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The 35-year-old from Tyne and Wear is an engineer at Gas Guru as well as a verified member on Checkatrade.
We spoke to Daniel about the common mistakes he sees in his work and how they can be fixed.
Not disabling the hot water pre-heat function
If the pre-heat feature on your boiler is on constantly, you could be driving up your energy bill by £10 a week, over a year that's £520.
Daniel said the average home could save the cash by simply disabling the function.
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He said: “Many modern combi boilers have a feature called ‘pre heat’.
"This keeps the boiler warm 24/7 to minimise the amount of time it takes the hot water to reach your taps.
"At the current unit cost of gas, an average home will save around £10 a week by disabling this feature, and it will only take a few extra seconds to get hot water from the tap."
According to Daniel, most of his customers don’t even notice when it’s been disabled so it's worth giving it a go to save some cash.
Using the hot tap for just a few seconds
By using your hot tap to rinse a teacup or a toothbrush for just a few seconds, you could be wasting energy unnecessarily.
Daniel said that as soon as your boiler detects a hot water demand, it begins its ignition sequence.
It will then start to heat the water heading towards your tap.
He said: "This means that even if the tap is on for a few moments to rinse a teaspoon, the boiler will have consumed gas and heated an amount of water which will just be sitting in the pipe work en route to the tap, which is probably switched off by this point.
"Just because you aren’t getting instant hot water from a tap, that doesn’t mean your boiler isn’t burning gas to heat the water as it’s flowing through the appliance.”
So, don't use your hot water tap for short bursts because it'll still be using a lot of gas to turn it on even for a few seconds.
Not upgrading to modern systems
Another tip Daniel has is upgrading your boiler controls to a modern digital programmer and thermostat.
Using central heating programmers will control the timing of your heating and hot water turning them on and off at pre-set times.
If you use them right, they can help reduce your energy costs.
Daniel said: “An average household can expect to make savings of up to £300 a year if a modern thermostat is installed and used correctly."
This is because newer systems allow you to have better control of your heating, such as specific temperatures in different rooms.
You will have to pay for the supply and installation but Daniel says that within a year "it'll pay for itself in energy savings".
Many reputable heating engineers can be found on online trade sites like Checkatrade.com.
Daniel also recommends turning your temperature down by just one degree, for example, from 21C to 20C.
Daniel said: "You can save approximately 10% on your annual gas bill, and most people won’t notice the difference in room temperature."
Ignoring boiler problems
It might be tempting to ignore the little niggles you may be experiencing with your boiler.
But, Daniel said that little drip or strange noise that occurs once every few hours may be the start of a catastrophic and expensive failure that could cost thousands.
He said: "I recently had to replace a whole boiler at the cost of thousands of pounds because my customer was putting up with an occasional drip from the unit.
"Little did she know, the liquid was acidic and eventually rotted through the chassis of the boiler, causing it to be condemned for safety reasons.
If this customer had called an engineer when she noticed the drip, it would've cost just £150 to repair.
So, if you notice something that doesn't look right go to an expert and it'll cost you far less than if you ignored it.
Not keeping an eye on your radiators
“A radiator that is cold in places isn’t an efficient radiator. Cold spots at the top mean the air needs bleeding out," said Daniel.
"Cold spots on the bottom are down to poor system balancing or a build-up of sludge in the radiator."
While you can bleed your radiators yourself, the latter should be investigated by a heating engineer.
Daniel added that while it’s tempting to turn radiators off completely due to the cost of energy, many modern "condensing" boilers actually work more efficiently if more radiators are turned on.
He said to bear that in mind when debating whether to switch any radiators off or turn the thermostatic valves down.
More tips to prevent energy waste
If you're looking to find more ways to stop wasting money on your energy bills, there's more you can do.
The experts at Checkatrade have shared some home heat-proofing hacks that could improve your home's heating efficiency.
Draught proofing can save the average household £45 a year, the team said.
You can do this by using rugs, draught excluders or thicker curtains to prevent heat from escaping under doors and between floorboards
Another tip is bleeding radiators, if your radiator is making a clicking sound or taking a long time to heat up, it may need bleeding.
This prevents energy waste by removing excess air and distributing heat more evenly.
By increasing the jacket thickness on your hot water cylinder you can save around £35 a year.
This is because it keeps your hot water at temperature for longer, without the need to use more energy.
Placing insulation foil behind radiators redirects as much heat inside the home as possible and stops it from diffusing through outside walls.
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Checkatrade also recommends making the most of the heat you’ve already paid for.
You can do this by leaving the oven door open after cooking to circulate the warmth or filling the kettle with room-temperature water.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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