Energy Saving - A View From My Chair

  • retrotecchie's Avatar
    Level 56
    Hello everyone. Retrotecchie here again, taking a look at energy saving from the comfort of my chair.

    No need for me to go over too much old ground. You have all heard most of the common tips from most of the usual channels. What I want to do is expand on a few of the more common ones, and perhaps see if there are 'tweaks' that can help save even more energy that won't hurt your wallet either.

    You are probably familiar with the 'turn your thermostat down 1°C and save around 10% on your heating bill'.

    My stat is set to 16°C which is about the same sort of temperature as a nice spring day. As it happens, my house is a 19th century stone-built cottage with walls almost 30 inches thick. It has such a huge thermal mass that it stays at a fairly even temperature most of the year round. But I do need to give the oil-fired boiler a good workout in the winter months to keep it warm. The same would apply to a gas boiler, if I was on mains gas, which I'm not.

    Anyway, 16°C is a temperature I've learned to work with, and it suits me. Her indoors, on the other hand, is a 20°C kinda gal, and we've had to make a few adjustments in order to make it work for her. The difference between 20°C and 16°C works out as an energy cost saving of around 30% which is not to be sniffed at.

    So how can you make that sort of saving and still stay fairly comfy?

    Well, schoolboy physics tells you hot air rises. Thus, your indoor temperature will always be cooler at floor level and warmer at ceiling level. With your stat in the usual position of around shoulder height, that 16°C you have set mid-room level could mean perhaps 14°C at floor level which your feet will tell you is a teensy bit on the cool side.

    So, fool your feet into thinking it is warmer than it is down there. Put on an extra pair of socks, or much thicker socks. If your feet think they are plenty warm enough, your body won't argue too much. Thick socks and a nice pair of slippers and you can happily knock a degree off the heating and you will only notice the savings, not the temperature difference.

    Physiological fact: The human body cannot measure absolute temperature. Your body can only detect relative temperature differences of around 2°C or so.

    You've all got energy saving lightbulbs, right? Well, how about an energy saving energy saving lightbulb. Rather than using conventional LED bulbs, you can get lightbulbs that have sensors built into them. I don't mean WiFi enabled bulbs controlled via your phone, but if that's what lights your candle, then fill your boots. Sensor bulbs are either controlled by ambient light (dusk to dawn lights) or have integrated motion sensors. Think PIR motion sensor lights, but with the sensor integrated into the base of a conventional lightbulb. Thus, you can 'retro-fit' many standard fittings and fixtures with a bulb that contains the sensor.

    In my last house, I had bog-standard 6W LED bulbs in the downstairs hallway and upstairs landing lights. If you were in and out of rooms or up and down stairs at night then you turned on the hall or landing lights...and then probably left them on until you remembered to turn 'em off again. 12 or 24 Watts of power doesn't sound like much, but those couple of hours they may have been on for would tot up to a good few units over a year. 12W x 2hr x maybe 300 days a year? 7.2kWh, or £2.50-ish in today's money. A motion sensor bulb doesn't cost too much more than a regular one, and over time will only save you even more money as prices increase. I now have them in my hall and landing at the new place. They are on if you need them, and turn themselves off again after a few minutes if the don't detect movement. There are even ones that dim down to a low level if you aren't around, and then brighten up when they spot you coming.

    Likewise, light sensor or dusk to dawn bulbs are only a fraction more expensive than conventional LED bulbs, but in a porch light or outdoor light, turning themselves off in the morning if you forget to...savings can be made. I have them in my conservatory. If it's a gloomy old day, they come on and if it perks up a bit, they can turn themselves off if it brightens up, and as soon as the next raincloud passes by, on they come again. Saves a few pennies, which all adds up. Needless to day, a little more investment up front, but lights that can switch themselves on an off without you having to not only save money, but last a lot longer.

    And the idiot box in the corner of your front room? Well, all very well having really vivid and bright pictures, but have a look to see if it has an 'eco mode'. If not, just reducing the brightness on an LCD below the 'default' 50% setting can save energy. I plugged my TV into a Watt Watcher energy monitor device, and with a bit of tweaking and adjustment, managed to get a very acceptable picture with a power saving of 15W off the 'default' settings 70W measurement. That soon mounts up when you binge that boxed-set.

    With a less bright picture, it looks better with dimmer lighting too.

    More to follow, and feel free to chip in with a few ideas of your own!

    Retro
    Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player. I DON'T work for or on behalf of EON.Next, but am willing to try and help if I can. ​​​​​​​Not on mains gas, mobile network or mains drainage. House heated almost entirely by baby dragons.
  • 62 Replies

  • JoeSoap's Avatar
    Level 60
    @retrotecchie

    I know you are aware, as you’ve contributed, but for others reading this thread there are more suggestions in the Energy Saving thread linked below, although it does stray off topic a bit…
    https://community.eonnext.com/threads/3166-Energy-saving?p=6859&viewfull=1#post6859

    Our thermostat is in the hall and close to a radiator that is turned on all the time. We have TRVs on all rads except in the hall and landing (for safety reasons apparently). Historically, we have had the stat set to at least 22 in order to get the whole house to a comfortable warmth and the heating was on for much of the day. Now it is set to 20 and the heating is only switched on when we get fed up being a bit chilly.

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    Last edited by JoeSoap; 1 Week Ago at 08:23. Reason: Added a bit
    I'm an Eon Next dual fuel customer with no particular expertise but have some time on my hands that I am using to try and help out a bit.
  • retrotecchie's Avatar
    Level 56
    This energy saving malarkey isn't totally new. Back in the day when God's dog was still a pup, my folks had a toaster. Nothing special, just a regular two-slice jobby with a bimetallic catch to latch the mechanism down, and a lever to adjust the 'done-ness'. This was about 1974, I recall.

    Now, on the top of the toaster, next to one of the slots was an arrow. This indicated which slot to use if you only wanted to toast a single slice. Put in a single slice and press the lever, the elements would only heat up on the slot you had the bread in.

    We've just pensioned off a six year old two-slot and replaced it with a four-slot as the missus and I pretty much live on toast.

    Do either of the newer ones have a feature to only toast one slice? No! I don't let all that heat go to waste though...I sit the ceramic butter dish on the unused slot to soften up the butter.

    One radiator on a heating system is usually fitted with no TRV, to operate as a bypass. If the boiler fired up with every radiator closed off by TRV's, then the only path for heat to flow is just around the feed pipes. Without enough 'load', the return temperature to the boiler would be too high, and could cause the boiler to cycle rapidly, which is not a good idea.

    We had a new system put in just before Christmas last year. Our plumber used the bathroom radiator as the bypass. Keeps the towels warm and toasty!
  • JoeSoap's Avatar
    Level 60
    @retrotecchie
    Yes, that was my understanding of the rads without TRVs. To have two like that is probably belt and braces. I don't waste any heat either and am often holding my hands over the toaster or around the kettle.

    When God's dog was a pup, was that also before Pontius was a pilot? 😁
  • Plantagenet's Avatar
    Level 16
    @retrotecchie
    Yes, that was my understanding of the rads without TRVs. To have two like that is probably belt and braces. I don't waste any heat either and am often holding my hands over the toaster or around the kettle.

    When God's dog was a pup, was that also before Pontius was a pilot? 😁

    Some of the newer Combi boilers use the internal Plate to Plate Heat exchanger as an auto bypass, negating the need for one rad on the system fitted with lockshield valves as the system bypasss. TRV's can be fitted on all rads in that case.
  • JoeSoap's Avatar
    Level 60
    @Plantagenet

    Thanks for the info. I have a Heat Only Boiler with a pump in the airing cupboard. I have vague memories of a heating engineer explaining the by-passes (too many in his opinion) to me and telling me not to close the two rads down.
  • retrotecchie's Avatar
    Level 56
    @JoeSoap

    Ah, what they call a 'system boiler'. My last one back in civilization was one of those. Cheaper than a combi, less to go wrong than a combi. Loved it.
  • Plantagenet's Avatar
    Level 16
    @Plantagenet

    Thanks for the info. I have a Heat Only Boiler with a pump in the airing cupboard. I have vague memories of a heating engineer explaining the by-passes (too many in his opinion) to me and telling me not to close the two rads down.
    No probs , system boiler would need a rad used as bypass. It's surprising how many people don't realise TRV's react to air temp of the room and not the temp of the Htg system . I used to attend lots where the TRV had shut down because of curtains covering them not allowing air to "flow" over the actuator head".easy callout for me!
  • Plantagenet's Avatar
    Level 16
    @JoeSoap

    Ah, what they call a 'system boiler'. My last one back in civilization was one of those. Cheaper than a combi, less to go wrong than a combi. Loved it.
    Combi's now days, except Baxi's have to many plastic components and "o"ring seals. And the plasics normally reconstituted . Some have been marketed well but in effect are not that reliable.
  • retrotecchie's Avatar
    Level 56
    @Plantagenet

    At least very few people now have any of the old wall mounted or 'sit up and beg' boilers with ye olde thermocouple controlled gas valve and pilot light...

    Those buggers must be proper costing a packet to run, just because of the pilot light. In fact, with what a pilot light would have cost to run annually, you could stock up on a couple of electronic controller/ignitor boards as spares, as they always seem to be the bit that packs up first these days.
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