Central heating tips

Make sure your boiler is ready for winter

You may not think about your gas central heating system too often, but you'll certainly notice when it goes wrong.

For the big boiler turn on towards the end of October, we've compiled a checklist to ensure everything works smoothly. Plus we've some tips on making your home energy efficient.

Central heating tips

Common causes of heating problems

  • Is the boiler power light on? If not, check if a circuit protection device has tripped that you can reset.
  • If the boiler has a pilot flame, check it's alight. Follow the manufacturer's instructions if you need to re-ignite it.
  • Is there a problem with your gas supply? Ask a neighbour if they're having problems too.
  • Cold radiators? Check if the thermostatic valves have been turned down.
  • Has your central heating programmer been set correctly?
  • If the main thermostat is set too low, the heating will fail to start.
  • Is the boiler pressure correct? If not, there might be a leak in the system. Be careful when investigating as any escaping water may be very hot. Ideally, call a Gas Safe registered central heating engineer.

Improve your energy efficiency

  • Turning down your main thermostat by just 1 degree could save around 10% on your energy costs, according to the Energy Saving Trust. However, do ensure you're warm enough to stay healthy – the recommended room temperature is between 18 and 21 degrees.
  • Insulating your loft will reduce heat loss from your home.
  • Fit radiator reflector foil behind your radiators to direct heat into your rooms.
  • If you have a hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard, make sure it has a thick thermal jacket, and isn't set higher than 60C.
  • If your radiators feel warmer at the bottom and cooler at the top when the heating is on, bleed them to improve efficiency.

Stay safe from carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. So if you don't already have one, buying a carbon monoxide alarm is essential to alert you to the presence of the gas.

And if you've got a gas boiler, an annual service by a Gas Safe registered engineer can help minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Author: The AA. Published 21 December 2016. Updated 8 September 2023.

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