Earth Notes: On UK Central Heating Season

Updated 2021-09-28 11:47 GMT.
When is UK heating on and off?
Micro-polls on Twitter, probing the UK central heating season. Mainly off in June and mainly on in December, but it's complicated!

2017-04: Heating Off in April and On in November?

UK Twitter followers' heating status was surveyed periodically from April 2017, onwards.

The poll question has changed slightly over time, but this review provides a summary of apparent intent.

Indeed it seems that ~10% of respondents leave their heating on year round! Relying purely on the thermostat like that will likely cause some demand for heat that there would not otherwise be, eg a fresh evening here or there.

Summary of polls

UK Twitterati central heating state snapshots.
Start / LinkOn %Off %What's Off? %Other %Total VotesDuration (d)
2017-04-0316.775.08.312
2017-10-0333.366.70.06
2018-04-0958.022.316.13.6112
2018-06-215.378.915.80.019
2019-10-3187.512.50.016
2020-04-0175.716.28.1372
2020-10-1975.013.311.7602
2020-12-0188.51.99.6522
2021-03-2467.525.07.5402
2021-05-0569.226.93.8262
2021-08-0526.867.65.6712
2021-09-179.185.55.5552

A by-month view of definitely-off UK central heating...

UK Twitterati central heating percent off by month.
% Off
  • 25
  • 25
  • 27
  • 79
  • 68
  • 85
  • 17
252527796885172
Votes40161261971558252
Polls13111131
Month123456789101112
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Individual Poll Results

2017-04: off?

20170403 Twitter poll final result UKCHOnOff

When I asked 2017-04-03 on Twitter who had turned off their heating (ie in/by April), a majority had, but not as big a majority as I'd hoped.

One person said "Heating on most of the year - that's what thermostats are for, surely?"

2017-10: on?

2017-10-03: @MyRadbot asked: Who has already turned their heating on, dear UK peeps?: (n=6) 1/3rd yes, 2/3rds no, and one from northern Scotland asking "What's off?"

2018-04: off?

2018-04-09: @EarthOrgUK asked: Time for THAT question again! Which UK peeps have turned OFF their central heating now?

  • Yes 22%
  • No 58%
  • What's off? 16%
  • Other 4%

Total vote count was 112.

(Thanks for all the votes! Looks like it was just too cold for most people to hit 'off'. We did, mainly, subject to our younger one turning up his own room @MyRadbot without prior consultation!)

2018-06: off?

2018-06-21: @EarthOrgUK asked: How many Tweeps (in the UK) still have their heating switched on June 21?

  • Yes 5%
  • No 79%
  • What's off again? 16%
  • Other 0%

Total vote count was 19.

@ed_davies (Caithness, Scotland) said: "Answered "what's off"? Oil boiler sort of died, removed the other day then found that replacement was wrong type. Using electric heater in living room pending new one, rest of house at 16 °C, kitchen extension at 14.5 °C."

@Zapaman said: "No heating since some time in April but temperature fine (well insulated house, sufficient thermal mass)," and attached a chart!

2019-11: on?

2019-10-31: @EarthOrgUK asked: We don't yet have our #heating on in London (#UK): what about you tweeps?

  • Our heating is off. 0%
  • Our heating is on. 100%
  • What's off? 0%

Total vote count was 11 by ~10pm on 1st November.

Quite a few votes then rolled in in the last half hour:

  • Our heating is off. 13%
  • Our heating is on. 88%
  • What's off? 0%

Final vote count was 16 by 10:30pm.

(Our heating went on the morning of 2019-11-10.)

2020-04: off?

2020-04-01: @EarthOrgUK asked (2 day poll, opened afternoon of the 1st): My seasonal pop quiz... Which of you in the UK have already turned your central heating off?

  • CH is now off. (16%)
  • CH is still on (76%)
  • Other / What's "off"? (8%)

Final vote count was 37 by ~6pm on the 3rd April; halfway through it was ~10% off.

(Note that the UK was just short of two weeks into the coronavirus lockdown at the time of this poll, which may have changed things somewhat.)

(Our heating went off during the day on the 1st.)

2020-10: on?

2020-10-19: @EarthOrgUK asked: Who has their central heating on in the UK already? (poll open for 2 days):

  • Our heating is on. (75%)
  • Our heating is off. (13.3%)
  • What's off? (11.7%)

Total vote count: 60.

20201021 16WWmultisensortemp

(Our bathroom MHRV went on as of the start of poll and we closed our windows, and with the heating still off we're at about 21°C inside (13°C out) as of the !)

When @SwitchedOnPorts (Switched On Portsmouth) asked on 8th October its poll got 2 votes either way. Maybe the 8th is indeed "the average big switch on day" as claimed.

2020-12: on?

This November has been the mildest for several years for 16WW, so our heating only went on for the morning of 1st December (~7am).

2020-12-01: @EarthOrgUK asked: SNAP POLL: Who has their central heating on in the UK already? (poll open for 2 days):

  • Our heating is on. (88.5%)
  • Our heating is off. (1.9%)
  • What's off? (9.6%)

Total vote count: 52.

So we've dropped from ~13% (1 in 8) off mid-October, to ~2% (1 in 50) still off by the start of December, even when relatively mild for many in the UK.

2021-03: off?

20210324 Twitter poll final result UKCHOnOff

2021-03-24: @EarthOrgUK asked: UK followers: which of you have already turned your central heating off? (poll open for 2 days):

(I added: All UK readers of this poll are welcome to vote in [this] poll, even if you don't currently plan to join my cult.)

  • Our heating is on. (67.5%)
  • Our heating is off. (25.0%)
  • What's off? (7.5%)

Total vote count: 40.

20210326 16WWbc

Alexandra D-S commented It's 16 indoors without the heating on so I'm still turning it on for parts of the day. to which I responded that Our normal off-day is 1st April, but I'm not sure how that'll work this year! It's only been coming on a bit anyway...

2021-05: off?

20210505 Twitter poll final result UKCHOnOff

2021-05-05: @EarthOrgUK asked: SNAP POLL: Who has their central heating on in the UK right now? (poll open for 2 days):

We just had a cold April (more heating degree days than March at 16WW). It's still quite chilly with daily highs ~12°C. So this May may not be typical...

  • Our heating is on. (69.2%)
  • Our heating is off. (26.9%)
  • What's off? (3.8%)

Total vote count: 26.

2021-08: off?

20210805 Twitter poll final result UKCHOnOff

2021-08-05: @EarthOrgUK asked: POLL: Who has their central heating on in the UK right now (ie controlled by the thermostat, so it'll come on if the house gets cold)? (poll open for 2 days):

We've had quite a rainy and overcast and windy couple of weeks in the UK. Some of the rest of the world has been having heatwaves and fires...

  • Our heating is on. (26.8%)
  • Our heating is off. (67.6%)
  • What's off? (5.6%)

Total vote count: 71.

There was an interesting comment from @MilitantHobo in London: We're required by either our mortgage or leasehold to leave it operational and set to at lowest 10 degrees C. It basically never comes on in summer but in theory there could be a cold snap capable of damaging pipes.

2021-09: off?

20210919 Twitter poll result notification UKCHOnOff 20210917 Twitter poll final result UKCHOnOff

2021-09-17: @EarthOrgUK said: It's a funny old September so far - POLL - Who has their central heating on in the UK right now (ie controlled by the thermostat, so it'll come on if the house gets cold)? (poll open for 2 days):

It's been warm and dull and rainy in turns this month so far!

  • Our heating is on. (9.1%)
  • Our heating is off. (85.5%)
  • What's off? (5.5%)

Total vote count: 55.

Interesting comment and engagement, thank you!

I am slightly concerned about people leaving their heating on the thermostat permanently, and thus using heating at either end of the season that they'd actually be fine without. But 'thermostat' may now be something less crude than the real-time behaviour of a bimetalic strip in a drafty corridor.

For example, @Zapaman said:

By your definition our heating is ON, but won't come ON until external temp definitely dips below 15C averaged over 24h. This unlikely for another couple of weeks at least. It has been "ON" like this all summer, but not coming ON at all.

Dataset

name
EOU UK Central Heating On/Off Date Micro-survey Results
description
UK central heating micro-survey results from Earth.Org.UK and @EarthOrgUK Twitter account
version
1
keywords
UK, heating, central heating, space heating, months, on, off, survey, micro, straw poll, on-line, self-reporting
variableMeasured
UK heating season
date created
2017-04-03
date published
date modified
2021-09-28T11:47:30Z
temporal coverage
2017/..
canonical URL
this descriptive text with markup
distribution
data content of HTML article
distribution
poll data CSV
distribution
directory
licence
this dataset is licensed under CC0, ie it is effectively public domain; if you make use of this data, attribution is nice but not obligatory

Sources/Links

  • 2021: UK BEIS: Energy Follow Up Survey: Heating patterns and occupancy Final report: Main heating season: The most commonly reported heating season was October to April (23% of households). The mean length for the 2017/18 heating season was 5.7 months; this has not changed significantly since EFUS 2011. Some 6% of homes were heated all year round; these were more likely to be associated with older households.