Heating Controls Explained

With the right tools in place, you can maximise the efficiency of your home’s heating system and achieve lower running costs, says Martyn Bridges
by Worcester Bosch Group
2nd December 2015

The value of getting the correct controls is so often overlooked but the fact is that having the right product in place – specified to match the size of your boiler and its heating load – means that the operating efficiency of a central heating system can be significantly enhanced.

A recent piece of research by Salford University has identified that savings of up to 40% are possible to achieve on a well-controlled boiler-operated setup over an uncontrolled version. Choosing a product with a weather compensating feature, which works in line with outside temperature conditions, can add another 4% in savings on top of this.

The Energy Saving Trust also estimates that by turning your room thermostat down by just one degree, you could save up to £90 a year. There are many options to choose from, so it is worth thinking what functions will suit you and your household best. Here are some of the key elements to consider:

Built-in features

Your boiler might already have weather or load-compensating controls that change the temperature of the water going to the radiators according to the situation. This means the condensing part of the process – where waste gases are burned – is maximised and efficiently improved.

It also keeps your home at a comfortable temperature and helps avoid a constant on/off action, which inevitably squanders energy. Incorporating a basic programmer means you can also time when your heating comes on and goes off and responds to your household’s needs.

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)

These are used to control the amount of hot water that flows through your radiators in order to maintain the required level of heat. Radiators that use TRVs can also be operated wirelessly. However, the emitters should not be covered as this will limit the valves’ capacity to sense the temperature around the unit.

Worcester Greenstar Comfort

The Worcester Greenstar Comfort I RF wall-mounted programmer offers homeowners the opportunity to manage their heating with ease.

Room thermostats

If you haven’t installed one already, then even greater control can be gained if you opt to include a room thermostat with your central heating system. This monitors the actual temperature in a zone and activates or shuts down the boiler when the heat level drops below or goes above the level you have set. A hallway or landing is an ideal location for this product to be sited.

Opting for a programmable room thermostat model means you can set different temperatures for varying times of the day. Most of us will need our homes to be warmer by day but cooler at night, so again this ensures you are only using energy when you need it.

Smart heating controls

For the very latest in boiler controls, opting for a Wi-Fi connected smart control and thermostat will give you a range of additional options – as well as allowing you to activate your heating and hot water from your smart device when you’re on the move.

These controls allow you to manage and change everything from your smart phone or tablet using a wireless internet connection. To benefit from even greater savings look out for products that have load and weather compensating features as these can help give more effective control of your system.

In Focus: Wave Control

Case study of Worcester Wave controls with system boiler

Homeowners: Rob & Jo Catmull Project: Renovation of a three bedroom, semi detached 1930s house Location: Churchdown, Near Cheltenham Date bought: June 2014 System installed: Worcester Greenstar Si Compact 30 kW boiler and Worcester Wave Smart thermostat and control

When Rob and Jo bought their semi-detached house located between Cheltenham and Gloucester, they were aware it needed to be completely updated and transformed.

The heating system was both old and too inefficient to cope with the size of the property, so the couple decided this would be one of the first projects they tackled. “We wanted to install something that would be easy to use and would perform at maximum efficiency,” says Rob. The ageing boiler was replaced with one of Worcester’s Greenstar Si compact models, which was much more suited to the property, alongside the company’s latest Wave Wi-Fi connected thermostat and controls.

As well as the convenience of being able to activate their home’s heating and hot water programmes whilst out and about, it also provided the family with intelligent control of the system to boost its efficiency.

The main Wave thermostat and hard-wired into the Greenstar Si Compact boiler. It can be manually operated or controlled via an app on the couple’s smart phone or tablets. It boasts a host of useful features including both load and weather compensating functions to help the system run at its most effective.

Unlike other similar Wi-Fi controls on the market, the load compensating function will only call for the boiler to run at the output needed to efficiently raise the temperature of the room to the desired level. Working with the local weather centre, the weather compensating feature can see additional energy savings of an extra 4% over a system without this option. Under the new ErP directive, this takes Worcester’s Greenstar i and CDi compact boilers to 98% efficiency and an A+ rating.

“The fact that we can control our heating via an app on our smart phones has proved invaluable, especially with two young children and a dog to consider,” says Rob. Jo particularly appreciates being able to flick the heating on from her phone when she brings the children back from swimming or if they are heading back from being out in the cold.

It’s proved very handy to be able to turn the heating up or down from the comfort of the sofa or wherever they are in the house. “The digital display on the control also means I can also see when Jo has sneakily turned up the temperature,” says Rob. “The energy we use to heat our home and hot water had been something of a mystery, so we have found that being able to monitor our usage via the app has made us think twice about the how we run the system, in turn cutting out unnecessary waste.”

Martyn Bridges is director of marketing and technical support at Worcester, Bosch Group. For further information on Worcester’s full range of heating and hot water controls call 0333 123 9339 or visit worcesterbosch.co.uk

Main image: The Worcester Wave is an intelligent controller that offers great functionality, enabling you to switch your heating on or off remotely.

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