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Free and easy ways to reduce your household gas use

10 October 2022

With the average energy bill now costing around £2,500, we’re all looking for ways to lower our energy bills. Below are some evidence-based ways to lower your gas bill for free.

Top five free ways to save gas at home

1. Lower the settings on thermostatic radiator valves

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) are self-regulating valves fitted to radiators that control the temperature of a room by changing the flow of hot water to the radiator. TRVs are widely misused as on/off switches. Instead, they should be set to lower temperatures in rooms such as bedrooms and non-living areas to achieve maximum savings. 

Readjusting existing TRVs outside the living room to 1.5°C cooler than before can save a typical household £68 a year off a typical gas bill. 

Each TRV has a dial, usually numbered from 1 to 5 or 6. Where TRVs are currently set to 4 or above, we recommend turning the dial to the midpoint on all radiators outside the living room (eg, 3 on a dial up to 6). Higher settings will heat the room to over 18°C, which uses up more energy.

2. Turn down the boiler flow temperature on combi boilers to 60°C

The majority of UK homes have combi boilers (gas boilers that provide heating and hot water on demand,and don’t have a separate hot water tank). Many are currently set with a flow temperature – the temperature to which the boiler heats water that gets sent to the radiators – of 70-80°C. Lowering the flow temperature to 60°C or less makes the boiler run more efficiently. 

Lowering a combi boiler flow temperature from 75°C to 60°C saves a typical household £97 a year (or 8% off their gas bill), if you are willing to accept slightly lower room temperatures.

Nesta has created a simple online tool to help households make this change. Go to the Money Saving Boiler Challenge tool to take this action.

3. Turn down hot water temperature on combi boilers to 42°C

Combi boilers also allow users to control the temperature of hot water supplied to taps and showers. Reducing the hot water temperature reduces the amount of fuel needed to heat the water. 

Turning down hot water temperatures on a combi boiler could save a typical household £26, or 2% off their gas bill per year.

4. Reduce hot water cylinder temperature to 60°C

Homes that have heating systems with a separate hot water cylinder can turn down the temperature of the cylinder itself so that water is not heated unnecessarily. The temperature should not be reduced below 60°C, as legionella bacteria, that can cause Legionnaires’ disease, can survive and grow in warm water stored below 60°C.

Setting your hot water cylinder to 60°C could cut 2% off a household’s gas use, or £26 off a typical gas bill, each year.

5. Turn off pre-heat settings on combi boilers

Some combi boilers have a pre-heat setting that enables users to get hot water straight away, rather than waiting a few seconds for the taps to run hot. In order to do this, the boiler regularly fires up to heat a small amount of hot water, even when the taps are not in use. Turning off the pre-heat setting can help save households some energy at no extra cost. The Heating Hub has created some brilliant bespoke instructions for how to turn off this setting on different boiler types: Vaillant, Ideal and Worcester.  

Turning off the preheat setting could save households 0.8% or £10 off a typical gas bill per year.

Low-cost solutions

If you are able to invest up to £300 in some smart technology, a smart thermostat could save a typical household 5.3% (or up to £64) on their gas bill a year. Newer heating controls models, such as Nest version 3, have even smarter tech that can modulate compatible boilers (essentially turning down the flame in your boiler, like when you turn down the gas on your hob). Finally, installing loft insulation is certainly worth the hassle. For a detached house without a small amount of loft insulation, a DIY job topping up the insulation from 50-100m to 300 mm can cost around £200, and save £81 off a typical yearly gas bill.

To read more about these findings, you can read the full report on Nesta’s website. 

Please note the views and advice in this blog post are provided by Nesta and are not attributable to partners of the Money Saving Boiler Campaign.