Earth Notes: On the Best Time to Fix Your Home Heating: Summer!Updated 2023-08-05.
Seasoned Professional Wisdom
Wise folks in the industry say that summer is the best time to fix your heating system!
Just for starters:
- Engineers have got loads of free time.
- You can pick exactly what you want.
- You are not going to freeze to death.
As those sages intone:
As you might expect, winter is the busiest time of the year for plumbing and heating engineers.
They are not only fitting new boilers and radiators but thanks to Jack Frost they also have to contend with breakdowns and frozen pipework too.
This makes summer a great time to take full advantage of their quieter period and bag yourself an appointment that is more likely to suit your schedule — just don't tell anyone else or you'll ruin it for us all!
(Though some suppliers may put prices up before the heating season. Then claim a 'sale' price in September! Hat tip to Marko C.)
What Not To Do
What should you not do?
- Worry about your cranky and inefficient/expensive heating system all summer.
- Put off fighting with it to start it up until you're really getting cold.
- Try to start it up when you're desperate in November... To the point where you are worrying about frost damage to your home and pipework.
- Find that you cannot start the heating at all. And then have to wait ages for it to get fixed. You'll quite likely be paying a premium, not getting what you actually want, and maybe not fixing the real issue.
- Get cold, and cross and out of pocket!
Plan ahead for toasty toes and lower bills and stress.
Insulation, Insulation, Insulation
Summer is not just the right time to get heating and boiler maintenance done. Get your radiators cleaned or swapped, or kick off some even bigger jobs.
Summer is also a good time to fix windows and doors and air leaks. And insulation in your loft, walls and elsewhere. When you don't actually need your home to be warmed is just the right time to be working on this!
To know where insulation and the like need fixing, you may have had to think about it the previous winter. Look for cold spots and condensation on exterior walls with a borrowed thermal camera for example.
Summer can also be a good time to buy and hang inexpensive reflective blackout blinds to keep out excessive sunshine and heat immediately. They provide extra insulation in winter too. What's not to like?
If you are a tenant and it is your landlord that would need to undertake major works, summer is a good time to nudge them into scheduling those works. Save money and stress all round. A landlord has a legal obligation to rent out a habitable building. A faulty heating system is no part of one of those!
Some actions to save cash and carbon and make you comfortable cost nothing!
You don't even need a heating engineer to visit, though you can ask advice when one is there...
Unless you are unwell or not very mobile, turn your house stat as low as you can, maybe to 18°C or 19°C, and put more clothes on instead. Get comfy by putting on a second pair of socks, thermals, etc...
If your boiler has a separate dial for the radiator "flow" temperature then turn it down to somewhere near the bottom. (You may want to bump it up a bit again for the very coldest days.) That should allow a modern boiler to do its "condensing" thing, to save lots of carbon and money.
As a bonus, if your heating system works OK down with that dial right down, then you will probably find that a heat-pump works well for you!