A simple way to turn your heating down

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We’ve read today’s news story  that many households have the thermostat turned up 4 degrees hotter than in the 1970s.

Obviously they have chosen to ignore Ed Davey’s advice to ‘put on a jumper’ but they may be wondering why they still don’t feel that warm and cosy despite the higher temperatures and increasing energy bills.

Many of us have wall mounted radiators.  Despite the name, radiators tend to be convectors that heat the air as it is drawn through a series of vanes at the back.  The warm air rises to the ceiling and pushes across to the far side of the room where it cools and slips down to floor level.  It’s now drawn back across the floor to be warmed by the radiator and the cycle repeats.  These convection currents mean the warmest air is by the ceiling and the coolest air, and strongest draughts, are at floor level.

It’s easy to see that this is the exact reverse of what you want.  You feel most comfortable if you are out of draughts, with warm feet and ankles, and with your head in un-stuffy air.  Convector heaters fail to deliver any of these comfort factors.

So what to do?  If you’re into new build or major renovations then you can specify underfloor heating.  Leaving aside the relative merits of the different underfloor heating systems, the reason people find underfloor heating so wonderful is that it doesn’t create convection currents and draughts.  It provides the heat where you want it at floor level, and it doesn’t create over heated stuffy air.

If you’re not in the position of being able to re-lay your floors, then a great retrofit option is to have a few under rug heaters around the house in places where you spend the most time.  Popular in the US and other parts of the world, these have only now become available in the UK through BeWarmer Ltd.

Under rug heaters work the same way as electric underfloor heating but are a simple appliance that plugs directly into the wall.  You can have them anywhere you want; in front of the sofa, under the kitchen table, beside the bed, even in a conservatory.  You choose. All you need is an insulating underlay under the under rug heater, and then your own decorative rug on top.

With the warmth where you want it, you’ll then find you can usually turn down the thermostat on your central heating by a couple of degrees – and cut down on some of the draughts and overheated stuffy air at ceiling level too.

Read more on Saving on Energy Bills with RugBuddy

RugBuddy Under Rug Heater for Log Cabin

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Chris asked [quote]I have a log cabin 5m x 2.5m, what size heater would you recommend[/quote]


My answer:

You don’t say whether you have any other form of heating in the cabin.  Assuming not, when considering which RugBuddy Under Rug Heater for Log Cabin, the short answer is:  fit the largest that you can on your available floor space.

RugBuddy is designed as form of secondary heating but if your cabin is well insulated you may get away with relying purely on RugBuddy if you can cover most of the floor area.  Its output is 125 Watts/ m2 which compares with underfloor heating systems for laminate and wood floors rated at 110 W/m2

It’s OK to place tables or chairs on the rug, with the RugBuddy under it, but you don’t want anything on it that smothers it, e.g. a bean bag or mattress.

So if the size you describe is totally available, with just tables and chairs to position on top,  I would go for 3 of the 1.5 x 2.3m size and lay them side by side.  They’re each rated at 450 watts so shouldn’t overload your electrics, but you may want to check this first.

If not all the floor is availiable, or you have a primary source of heating, just choose a RugBuddy that will fit under a rug wher you spend most of your time – typically in front of your chair/ sofa.

Hope this helps!

RugBuddy Running Cost Calculator

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There’s a really handy tool you can use as your RugBuddy Running Cost Calculator at http://www.ukpower.co.uk/tools/running_costs_electricity

To calculate the cost of running a RugBuddy over the course of a month, first you enter the ‘wattage’ of your RugBuddy – 250 Watts for the 1.25 x 1.6m RugBuddy, and 450 Watts for the larger 2.3 x 1.5m RugBuddy.  Then you fill in the boxes for the number of hours you expect to have the RugBuddy switched on, and, of course, the cost of electricity from your supplier.  The calculator then does it’s work and tells you what it will cost to run per month.

At a conservative 15p per kWh (kilowatt hour) at the time of writing, your RugBuddy won’t cost more than 4p per hour to run (small) or 7p per hour (large).

If you like to sit and relax by your rug each evening, and want to be warm and cosy without running your central heating flat out, 3 hours per night works out at between £3.60 and £6.30 per month.

For a homeworker like me with a small RugBuddy under the desk for 175 hours per month, the most it will cost is £6.50 per month (using the RugBuddy Running Cost Calculator).

So you can enjoy your RugBuddy without worrying about the bills!

Cost to run RugBuddy under rug heating

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I’m often asked what it costs to run RugBuddy under rug heating.  Like a lot of things in life the honest answer is ‘it depends’.

To answer the question fully is a bit complex because it depends on a number of factors including the insulation value of the floor.  So I usually give a simplified answer.

The Rugbuddies are rated at 125 Watts per Square Metre.  So the 1.2 x 1.7m is 250 Watts and 2.3 x 1.6m is 450 Watts.  These are nominal values but give you the idea that running costs are similar to switching on between 3 and 5 old style lightbulbs.

The unique feature of RugBuddy is that the element (a clever multistrand coaxial cable) is self regulating.  This means that as temperatures increase in consumes less power.

This is important as we cannot control the type of rug our customers will place over it.  Some rugs will have a high ‘tog’ value while others will be low.  We mustn’t risk overheating and so any form of heating that isn’t self regulating would be dangerous.  The self regulating element was the design breakthrough that made producing RugBuddy possible.

So, in practice, the cost to run RugBuddy under rug heating is less than the lightbulb equivalent as it is unlikely to be running at full power for long.  We recommend laying a low ‘tog’ rug over RugBuddy so that you can maximise the radiant heat but you can see that RugBuddy is tolerant of any type of rug.

We also recommend laying an insulating underlay beneath the RugBuddy.

To see the maximum a RugBuddy™ will cost to run, i.e. running at its rated output the whole time it is switched on, you can use the RugBuddy Running Cost Calculator.

Hope this helps!

How to Heat Your House and Home

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Not so long ago, if you were a typical UK home owner fed up with the drudgery and dirt associated with open fires, you might have been wondering how to heat your house and home.  Most people at the time looked forward to installing central heating.

Central heating promised a level of comfort and ease not possible with open fires and ranges. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s fireplaces were bricked up and blocked off, and radiators proudly hung on walls to complete the look of modernity.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Never mind that radiators heat the room mainly through convection. Which is not a good thing as convection is inefficient and spreads dust and germs (a major problem for asthma sufferers or people with dust-related allergies) and causes uncomfortable draughts at ankle level.[/box]

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Never mind that the heating is either on or off throughout the house including rooms you’re not using.[/box]

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Never mind that radiators take up wall space limiting where you place your furniture. To minimise this inconvenience, many radiators are under the window meaning you can’t open the window without losing all your heat.  At night, you can’t even draw the curtains without trapping all the heat behind![/box]

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Never mind that radiators rust, can sludge up over time, and have valves and pipe-work that can leak. And that the typical gas boiler has a limited life and needs regular expensive maintenance for safety reasons.[/box]

Despite all these drawbacks installing central heating was almost universally seen as progress. It certainly made life easier and cleaner. Coal fires made a lot of mess in the house and the smoke dramatically affected air quality in towns and cities.

The gas burned to heat the majority of central heating boilers didn’t seem to have these drawbacks. But then we didn’t know as much then about the environmental damage of the CO2 produced by the typical gas boiler as we do now.

For those who weren’t connected to mains gas, electric storage heaters were popular for a time. But these relied on convection and took up space as well and an additional snag was that they couldn’t be effectively controlled to give you heat when you needed it.

The buzz in the energy industry is ‘renewables’ and the vast majority of renewables schemes harness renewable energy sources – wind, wave, tide, solar, hydro – and convert the energy to electricity. As the technology develops prices will come down and electricity will be the greenest possible energy source with which to heat your home.

And then there is nuclear power – not without its own difficulties certainly – which has the potential to produce all the electricity we will ever need.  Current research into using Thorium as a fuel looks promising.

So electricity will never be in short supply.  Your choice on how to heat your house and home has never been simpler.

With your renovation or new build you’ll be keen to add value and future-proof your home. So long as the sums add up. So let’s take a closer look:

Comfort heating

You’ve probably experienced underfloor heating – either electric underfloor heating or a wet system – and marvelled at the warmth and comfort you immediately feel. This is the effect of ‘radiant’ heating.

The floor surface under you is heated and the heat radiates upwards without any convection draughts. The floor surface is warm to touch and, even with hard surfaces such as ceramic tiles, is a pleasure to walk on in socks or bare feet.

Luxury indeed.

Set that thermostat lower

What you may not know is that the air temperature with radiant underfloor heating is lower than with a convection/ radiator system for a similar level of comfort. This is part of the appeal of electric underfloor heating and is an indication of just one of the ways energy usage is efficiently controlled.

No more overheated stuffy air familiar to all central heating users. Just a relaxing feeling of warmth – almost a feeling of wellbeing – from the gently radiating warm floor.

Zoning makes sense

How long do you and your family spend in the bathroom in the morning? 15 minutes? 30 minutes?

Does it make sense to have the heating on in the bathroom at the same time, and for the same duration, as the heating in the living room? Or the heating in the kitchen on for the same time as the heating in the bedroom?

Unless you’ve got a very sophisticated zoned central heating system then the chances are you don’t have any choice over this and just accept that a lot of this heat is wasted.

So when you’re planning how to heat your house and home you should consider how zoning will enable to achieve maximum efficiency and minimum energy usuage.  Electric underfloor heating makes it easy to zone each part of your home to fit your lifestyle. With individual thermostats and timers in each room you only heat rooms at the times you use them.

So you can start to see how electric underfloor heating has much more efficient energy usage than central heating.

Does it heat up quickly?

The Generation 4 heating element we use lies just below the floor covering for rapid response times. This means you need only set the timer for the heating to come on 15 – 20 minutes before you want to use the room.

And that same rapid response time applies when the heating is turned down or turned off, for instance if the sun comes out and warms the room.

A slow response was always a problem with electric storage heaters leading to a lot of wasted heat.  The same is true with old technology electric underfloor heating using a thick cable buried in a heavy concrete screed.

What about maintenance?

Regular, professional, maintenance is essential for conventional central heating. Efficient combustion is critical to the operation of a gas boiler for environmental, economy, and safety reasons. So it’s imperative you have your boiler regularly serviced by a registered gas engineer.

Modern boilers typically come with a 5 or 7 year guarantee and last for, maybe, 10 years before needing replacement.
If you’ve ever experienced a radiator leak you’ll know how filthy the water is and how it can quickly cause a mess, ruining floor coverings and seeping into the room below.

Of course, none of these maintenance or repair issues apply to electric under floor heating.

With advances in element design, and the low cost of fully programmable digital thermostats, you’ll quickly appreciate that electric under floor heating’s time has come. That’s why many new builds now specify under floor heating.

Don’t miss this opportunity to build the future into your project!

Home Heating Economy Tips

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The electric underfloor heating kits supplied by BeWarmer are very efficient and do a great job of converting electrical energy into radiant heat.  But we all have a duty to reduce our energy consumption as much as possible and so you may find these home heating economy tips useful.

If you’re used to conventional central heating system with radiators you’re in for some pleasant surprises!  It’s important to learn how to use your electric underfloor heating system to full advantage.

For a start, you will set your thermostat lower.  Most people find 20ºC a comfortable room temperature. But because radiant floor heating is much more comfortable than draughty old convector radiators,  around 18ºC is often found to be warm enough.  Of course, this all depends on how you use the room but you should experiment to find the most comfortable setting.

Taking this a stage further we recommend that when you’re not in the room, you leave the thermostat on a setting of between 12-15ºC.  This is better than switching it off as that the floor and the room will never become too cold. Accordingly the heater element does not have to stay on very long to maintain this background temperature and is cost effective. If there’s a set pattern to your room usage you can easily achieve this with your programmable thermostat.

It’s also worth noting that when you switch the system on from cold, it will not heat up any faster by setting the thermostat to it’s maximum position. Simply set the thermostat to the setting you find comfortable and the heater will draw full power until the temperature is reached.

How long your system will draw full power depends on how much heat needs to be put into the room. This is governed by the amount of heating that needs to be done and the rate of heat loss. If there is a high rate of heat loss because the difference between inside and outside temperatures is high, or the insulation values of your room are poor, (or a combination of the two), then the floor will have to run hotter to maintain a comfort level.

So paying attention to the age and condition of your windows, doors, ceiling and walls, and making sure doors and windows are not kept unnecessarily open, will have a major impact on how much energy is used. Of all the home heating economy tips, reducing heat losses will make your heating system run more efficiently and economically.
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Common sources of heat loss are:

  • No insulation in the ceiling.
  • Open curtains or no curtains.
  • Open doors / windows (some advisable for ventilation).
  • Open chimneys of fireplaces.
  • Open stairwells.

Since most electricity is still generated using non-renewable fossil fuels, releasing a lot of CO2 into our atmosphere, it is important that we run our heating systems as economically as possible.  Hope you’ve found these home heating economy tips useful.