Yes, it’s on the way, alright! The mornings have a definite chill to them and the leaves are turning a lovely shade of russet. Aesthetics aside, the thermometer will start to head downwards and you’ll be eyeing up thick jumpers in shop windows. So, when the cold season comes around for real, should you pick up that thick jumper or turn the thermostat up?
That full tank, courtesy of Supersaveroil.ie, came pretty cheap over the summer, but you shouldn’t be so smug about it – you have to make it last until March! Here’s some good ideas to help you to do just that.
Add some new insulation
You could lose up to 60% of your hard-earned heat via the roof and walls of your home, so they both need to be insulated. You’ll need to use at least 10” of insulation material in the loft and you should examine your windows to look for – and fill in – any cracks.
Lower the heating by at least a degree
Just a degree lower can reduce your fuel oil usage by 10% and you shouldn’t even notice this, especially if you’ve used some insulation and less heat is escaping.
You can also start turning off your radiators 15 minutes or so before you go to bed. They’ll still be warm for a while and by the time they’ve cooled off you’ll be fast asleep with your hot water bottle!
Bleed all the radiators
You should do this at least once a year. Radiators develop air pockets and this prevents them from working properly – you’ll have to turn up the heating to get the benefit. Try to bleed them two or three times a year and especially before winter sets in.
A great way to get the most out of your heat is to place old-fashioned insulation panels behind all your radiators. These panels look like stiff metallic bubblewrap and what they do is reflect heat back into your rooms, as otherwise it’d seep into the walls and simply get lost.
Try to service your boiler twice a year
Boilers are very complicated machines – they can develop airlocks, let in water, accumulate soot and sometimes, manage a combination of all three! Any one of these problems can reduce your boiler’s efficiency by up to 8%, so effectively, you’re wasting 8% of your fuel.
You should have a service at the end of spring and at the beginning of winter, ideally. However, if you can only manage one service, the autumn one is the one to book so you can identify and sort out problems before you’re left with no heating on the coldest day of the year.
Keep your supply safe
Fuel poverty is a problem in Ireland, with around 400,000 households spending more than 10% of their annual incomes on heating their homes. This has the knock-on effect of making fuel theft more common, so you’ll need locks on your tank at the very least. You should also keep your tank as hidden from view as possible and use motion-sensitive lights and alarms. You can also install tank sensors that alert you on your phone if oil levels suddenly drop.