When gas heating was cheaper, in the early days of North Sea Gas, people tended to stick with whatever central heating system they had, until it completely broke down.
It makes sense, because installing a new boiler is expensive and messy, and a new one won’t be a great improvement over the old one in terms of fuel efficiency. These days math has changed.
Gas is much more expensive, and equipment relatively cheaper, so if a new system is, say, 20% more efficient, it can justify the installation costs in a relatively short time.
Modern boilers use much more heat.
Central heating boiler designs have come a long way in recent years. You may not notice it, as it still looks like a white box, and tends to be hidden behind doors. However, some very smart science has been at work here.
New installations today will have a condensing boiler (this is by law) working on the recycling principle; instead of being wasted, the extra heat generated when the water for the radiator is heated cycles again, and heats the water that enters the system. This is good for the consumer, because the boiler is much more efficient, and it’s also good for the environment, because less fuel comes from the stockpile and less carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere.
More control, less money.
The first central heating systems gave you a simple choice: on or off. Then comes the thermostat, often in the hall, which turns on the heater when the temperature drops below a certain level. Some systems still rely on this, but again, a lot of progress has been made. Room thermostats, and thermostatic radiator valves, manage the system so heat only goes where it’s really needed. Like any new boiler, at one time these enhancements may have seemed like an expensive addition, but as kits become relatively cheaper and fuel prices become more expensive, the numbers are worth another look. If you have a room that is not being used, you are obviously saving money by not heating it.
Timing is everything.
People used to tell you they kept the heater on all the time. “If the system is completely cold, you are wasting money trying to warm it up again” is the argument. It sounded a little fishy even then, and when someone goes to the trouble of testing his theory, sure enough, it’s wrong. Clever use of the timer does pay off. The system takes time to heat up, but still gives off heat for a half hour or so after shutting down, so the switch needs to be set slightly earlier than the time change is required.
Help is at hand.
The government recognizes the importance of affordable heating for low-income families, especially when there are children, the elderly or the disabled involved. The current grant scheme allows people claiming various types of benefits to get a new kettle free of charge if the current one is more than five years old. The fact that this is seen as useful shows how great advances in boiler technology have been recently. Let me see!