get the best from a boiler

Be sure your home is pre­pared for the chilly weather ahead

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Are you pre­pared for the cold snap? This is the time to make sure your cen­tral heat­ing sys­tem is in tip-top con­di­tion, so that your home can stay nice and cosy dur­ing the colder months.

QIf our cen­tral heat­ing stops work­ing, can we try to fix it our­selves with­out hav­ing to call an en­gi­neer out? ab­so­lutely, but don’t try any­thing be­yond these ba­sic checks. First up, if you’re on a re­pay­ment meter, check your credit, turn on any gas ap­pli­ances to check for a flame, and see if a fuse has tripped. Power cuts can re­set timers, so you may need to re­pro­gramme it; once you’ve done that, turn the ther­mo­stat up past 21˚c, which can force the boiler into ac­tion. check­ing and top­ping up your boiler’s pres­sure is sim­ple – search ‘Bri­tish gas: how to check wa­ter pres­sure’ on youtube. Fi­nally, press your boiler’s re­set but­ton, be­cause some­times turning it off and on again re­ally is the an­swer!

QAre an­nual boiler ser­vices re­ally es­sen­tial to have? a yearly ser­vice by a gas Safe regis­tered (gas­safer­eg­is­ter.co.uk) en­gi­neer is just good com­mon sense and costs around £60-£100. the en­gi­neer should check the flue (both in­side and out­side the house), oper­at­ing pres­sure and heat out­put and all seals. they should also do a full safety check and clean parts if nec­es­sary, plus pro­vide a signed ser­vice re­port.

QOur boiler cuts out when it’s freez­ing – is that a fault? Below-zero tem­per­a­ture weather can cause con­den­sate pipes (found on mod­ern con­dens­ing boil­ers) to freeze, which can stop the boiler from work­ing. Frozen pipes are a com­mon call-out for boiler en­gi­neers in the win­ter. Sim­ply de­frost the pipe by pour­ing some warm (but not boil­ing) wa­ter over it.

QWe’ve got an A-rated boiler and we never have the heat­ing turned up over 20°C, but our bill is still high. Any tips on how we can save costs and en­ergy? Boil­ers ac­count for up to 55-60% of our an­nual en­ergy bills, so you’ve al­ready done the hard part by get­ting a high­ef­fi­ciency boiler in­stalled, which can cut up to £570 a year, com­pared to an older model. in­stalling a pro­gram­mable ther­mo­stat (from £35, Screw­fix) and ther­mo­static ra­di­a­tor valves to each ra­di­a­tor can also slash £150* from your bill by let­ting you con­trol when and where the heat­ing is used. But re­mem­ber, your home needs to be prop­erly insulated.

QIs it worth in­stalling a smart ther­mo­stat in my home? Flashy new ther­mostats like those made by nest and Hive will give you more con­trol over your heat­ing via a smart­phone, and can track your gas us­age. the lead­ing brands also prom­ise quite im­pres­sive sav­ings – but re­mem­ber, these sav­ings are not guar­an­teed.

pro­tect your­self from car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing (caused by a faulty boiler)– keep an alarm by the boiler at all times

CDI Com­pact gas-fired combi boiler, around £2,500, Worces­ter Bosch

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