At this time of the year we know how important it is to have warm homes to live in. Choice invest millions each year in improving our existing homes, to include fabric first measures such as insulation upgrades and new windows and doors.
We also invest in new more efficient heating systems, including moving from oil to natural gas boilers where possible, and installing new heating controls. In 2019/20 we installed around 500 new efficient boilers, with an investment expected to be over £1m on boilers and heating controls, including improvements to our communal heating schemes.
One tenant who received a heating upgrade commented “I was really delighted with the heating upgrade at my home. I’ve found it cheaper to run and my house heats up quicker, with constant hot water. I’ve also gained a lot more space in the garden with the removal of my oil tank and have more space in the attic with the water tank removed. The gas installers were excellent, very helpful and they cleaned up after themselves.” [Mr Grimes, Warrenpoint]
Within your home, you may be able to make small changes in order to use your heat and hot water more effectively, with some energy efficiency tips already provided this week on our website, such as closing curtains at dusk to keep heat in, and making sure radiators are not obstructed by curtains or furniture.
Ventilating your home is also very important and you should make sure you use the facilities available in your home e.g. ensuring trickle vents on your windows are left open and extract fans in kitchens and bathrooms are operating correctly. Having poorly ventilated homes can lead to poor air quality, which can contribute to condensation and mould. We should also ensure we do not unnecessarily over-ventilate our homes by leaving windows and doors open for long periods of time. It is good practice to open windows at times to remove moisture and bring fresh air into our homes, however, by leaving windows and doors open for long periods we can cool the fabric of our homes. This means it can take longer to heat our homes, which can lead to discomfort, and can use more energy and cost more.
It is important that you understand how to use any heating controls in your home as this will help improve comfort, manage your heating costs effectively, and reduce your impact on the environment. Heating controls will be different in every home, but many homes will now have a heating programmer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs). Further information on using these controls, and others such as those found on storage heaters, is available on the energy section of our website.
One common misunderstanding is that a cold radiator means a heating system isn’t working. This is not always the case, and in many instances it is simply a result of the settings on heating controls within a home. For example, if your home has a room thermostat, or your radiators have TRVs, then once the air reaches a certain temperature your radiators will start to cool down.
Most homes will be heated by fossil fuels, which has a negative impact on the environment, and so we expect to see a shift away from these systems in the future. This could mean that we increasingly see more alternative technologies being used in our homes, such as heat pumps and it could mean that there are significant changes to the natural gas grid. Choice are engaging with relevant Government Departments as we look to the future and potential changes to the way we will heat our homes. We will continue to work with our customers and stakeholders to find the most suitable solutions to reduce our impact on the environment, whilst also ensuring energy costs are kept as low as possible.