Clever ways to save on heating

More than 80 per cent of the energy used in residential buildings goes on heating up rooms and hot water. By making a few changes, however, there’s a lot of potential for reducing costs – without the need to freeze!

Beine lehnen vom Boden aus an einer Heizung.© Adobe Stock / New Africa

When the autumn weather starts to turn colder, our heating systems make things nice and warm for us inside. Yet this kind of home comfort is actually relatively new. It was not until 1716 that Swede Marten Trifvald developed the idea of using fire to heat water for heating up rooms, which he initially used to heat a greenhouse. Trifvald’s idea is considered to be the first ever central heating, a system which is now used millions of times over.
In the 41 million households across Germany, people are starting to turn up their thermostats again. But given the rising energy prices, many are worried about the size of their next heating bill.

The best tips for saving money

Bringing down the temperature of our rooms by just one degree Celsius saves an average of six per cent in energy consumption. Bleeding radiators on a regular basis also helps. For radiators to work efficiently, they should not be covered by furniture, curtains or panelling. Even ventilating in the right way also makes a difference. Let’s see how to put these tips into practice.

Every degree counts

All thermostatic radiator valves use the same scale: number one is about twelve degrees, and every digit higher is about four degrees more. This means that knob number three is 20 degrees, and the highest level – five – is 28 degrees. The optimal temperature for the living room is 20 degrees Celsius; for the kitchen, it’s 18 to 20 degrees, the bathroom 23 degrees and the bedroom 16 to 18 degrees. Even in rooms that are not regularly used, the temperature should not be lower than about 16 degrees so that no moisture can settle on the walls and cause mould.

Bleeding the radiators

It hardly takes any time at all to give the radiators a thorough bleed through. If they gurgle a bit or do not warm up properly, it’s usually due to a build up of air. To let this air out, all you need is a radiator key (available in DIY shops).

Ensuring enough space

Radiators work best when the have plenty of room around them. Any furniture, long curtains or panelling should be set at a sufficient distance. Even a layer of dust on the radiators also will reduce their heating efficiency. What are, however, useful are roller blinds, curtains and venetian blinds. Keeping these fully down on colder night saves a significant amount of energy. It also helps to seal windows and doors, e.g. with elastic sealing tape. You can also buy flexible sealing profiles and brush seals for the gap along the bottom edge.

The right way to ventilate: short, strong bursts of fresh air

Whilst we need to heat our living spaces, we also need to allow fresh air in from outside. Keeping the windows permanently tilted or ajar is not the best method, however. Instead, the best way to ventilate is to open the windows up wide whilst the heating is turned down. The doors to other rooms should be kept open so that the rest of the house or flat is also ventilated at the same time. This is with the exception of the bathroom and kitchen which, due to their higher levels of humidity, should be ventilated separately so that the moisture cannot spread elsewhere.

An extra tip: smart thermostats

Smart thermostats, which can be easily installed on most types of radiator, are a particularly clever way to save energy. These allow you to select and only heat up the spaces that need to be kept warm. You can also use them to set times for the heating to come on and go off. This means that none of the heating ends up being wasted.