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Whole house heating: settle the debate

Sep 16th 2021

De-bug the old generalisation of heating your whole house

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When it comes to the argument over whether or not to heat the entire house rather than just one area, there are several schools of thought.
People are divided on whether it is more cost-effective and energy-efficient to heat the entire house rather than individual rooms. Some believe it is, while others disagree.
For example, if you spend most of your time in your living room throughout the day, should you turn off the general heating and only heat that particular area?
After everything is said and done, the primary technique you use to heat your home has the most impact on whether or not it is worthwhile to heat a room on an individual basis.
The size of the room in question, however, when compared to the size of your entire house, is also important. We’ll take a look at those considerations today.

If you have a boiler, you should use it.

Using your central heating system to heat the majority of your home rather than just one room separately is usually the best option if you have a contemporary gas or oil central heating system and a well-insulated home, as opposed to heating just one room individually.
A balanced flue – which pulls in fresh air from outside to fuel the burning process while also exhausting the fumes – heat exchangers, and condensing technologies all combine to make the contemporary boiler the most energy-efficient means of heating a home in today’s world.
It is possible to have thermostatically controlled central heating radiators.
In addition to temperature controls on your radiators (also known as thermostatic radiator valves or TRVs), if you have a modern heating system, you are likely to have thermostatic radiator valves (also known as TRVs).
Radiator controls enable you to regulate the temperature of individual rooms in your home, which means you can use the main heating to maintain a comfortable background temperature throughout the house while also utilising the radiator controls to raise the temperature in a specific room when necessary.
If you have central heating radiators without temperature controls, you should consider replacing them.
While it’s still a good idea to utilise your main heating to maintain a reasonable background temperature throughout your house if you don’t have the option of utilising radiator controls, you may consider installing a gas fire or electric heater in a room where you spend the most of your time.
If you do this, however, be sure that your thermostat is not located in the area where the additional heating is being used, since this will cause the primary heating system to malfunction. In the event that you have a wireless thermostat, take it out of the room that is being locally heated.

If you have storage heaters, you should use them.

If you primarily heat your house using a storage heater, the concerns will be different from those listed above.
Despite the fact that a storage heater is meant to operate mostly on off-peak power, it is usually believed that you will need to supplement this with some peak-rate electricity use in order to give additional warmth when and where it is needed.
Alternatively, it may be worth heating a small room independently, but if you do so, make sure to lock the door to retain the heat within the space.

If you have a gas fireplace, read on.

If you have a gas fireplace in your living room, it is only worthwhile to use it rather than your central heating if the space is smaller than one-third the size of your entire home.
While a contemporary central heating boiler may have an efficiency of 90 percent, a gas fire may only be 50 percent to 60 percent efficient, and an open flame gas fire may be as little as 30 percent or lower in terms of efficiency. This is due to the fact that a significant amount of heat is wasted up the chimney or flue.
A gas fire also requires a constant supply of fresh air in order to maintain an adequate supply of oxygen for the gas burning process. A ventilator, sometimes known as an air-brick, is used to bring in fresh air into the room. This ventilation system, however, operates continuously and might result in a loss of warmth and warm air even when the fireplace is not in use, which is undesirable.
Flueless or catalytic gas fireplaces are more feasible to install in certain homes than regular gas fires, but from an efficiency standpoint, they still require more ventilation than standard gas fires, whether or not the fire is burning.
Using a balanced flue gas fire may be a good option because they do not require ventilation and, although they are more expensive to purchase, they are less expensive to operate than other options because they can be as energy-efficient as condensing central heating boilers in terms of heating efficiency.
If you have a portable heater, you can use it.
Portable heaters and other tiny heating equipment are not known for being especially energy-efficient in their operation. It is best to avoid using them if at all possible since they do not utilise the cheapest fuels and it is quite simple to wind up scorching the room.
Moving bottled gas heaters (also known as liquid petroleum gas or LPG) are the same as stationary bottled gas heaters in that they require a lot of ventilation to avoid odours and condensation.

If you live in a smaller space

If you live in a smaller home, heating a single room is virtually never profitable; instead, it is typically preferable to heat the entire house.

If you have a more substantial residence

A tiny room that is less than one-quarter the size of the entire house may be worth heating separately in a bigger home; but, if your home is well-insulated, the advantage of heating a small room independently is diminished.

If your house has an open floor plan

Attempting to heat only one area will not be energy efficient if, like many modern houses, your home has an open-plan layout, with the stairway, hall, or dining room all integrated into the living room. The same logic applies if your ceilings are particularly high.

There are a few other things to think about.

When determining whether or not to attempt to heat a room on an individual basis, there are a number of other considerations.
You should err on the side of caution when it comes to heating a single room for health reasons, particularly if you are elderly or handicapped, or if you have small children in the house. When it comes to fundamental comfort, heating one area is counterproductive if it entails having to transition from a warm room to a cold space.
Another significant concern is that of safety. Children and other vulnerable persons are at danger of falling into or against open-fronted gas and solid fuel fireplaces because of the risk of falling into or against them.
It is considerably safer – and more energy-efficient – to use a glass-fronted fireplace or stove, but caution must be exercised when doing so. If you have a gas fireplace, it is necessary to get it maintained on a regular basis; in leased properties, this is the duty of the landlord.

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