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Heating your home

On this page you will find useful guidance on the best use of the various heating systems installed within our homes. Click the links below to view the section applicable to your property:

Central Heating

The most common form of heating in homes is gas fuelled central heating. To help keep your energy costs down, there are several small steps you can take to help your system run efficiently.

Optimized Shutterstock248422816Programmers and Timers

These help you set times when to turn heating or hot water on and off. Normal homes take around 30 minutes to heat up or cool down. It is a good idea to set your heating to turn on or off 30 minutes before or after you need it. Different homes will heat up/cool down more quickly than others so you may need to experiment to find the settings best suited to you and your home.

Room Thermostat (normally located in your hall)

Your room thermostat monitors the temperature of your home and tells the boiler to heat it until the temperature you have set on the thermostat is reached. The ideal temperature to set your thermostat is between 18 and 21˚C, however you may need to adjust this if you have people living in your home with health conditions. If your room thermostat is set above 21˚ C regularly, it is worth considering lowering the temperature by 1˚ C as this could save up to £75 a year.

Optimized Shutterstock101099512Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs)

TRVs work by allowing you to control the temperature of each radiator individually, you can set TRVs in rooms that you don’t often use lower. It is important to make sure unused rooms don’t stay too cool as this can lead to damp and mould problems.

To download a pdf of the above information please click the links below:

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)

LPG (liquid petroleum gas) is installed in some of our properties which are not connected to the mains gas grid. The LPG is delivered by road and then stored in a tank which can be above or below ground. LPG tanks can be bought or rented from LPG suppliers.

LPG is normally used as the fuel which delivers the heat for off grid ‘wet’ heating systems, LPG-fired boilers heat water which is then circulated through home via the central heating systems radiators and hot water through the taps in your home.

Advantages of LPG

  • LPG is a clean burning fuel, albeit not ‘green’. It produces around 33% less carbon dioxide than coal and 15% less than oil. 
  • In the event of a spill LPG won’t cause contamination to water or the environment. 
  • The tank can be stored underground so it is hidden from sight.
  • LPG is a highly efficient fuel, so you get a good return on every unit of energy.

Disadvantages of LPG

  • The tank has to be rented off your supplier 
  • The LPG tank and all appliances need to be serviced annually by a gas safe engineer 
  • As the fuel is delivered by road it is possible you could run out before the next delivery, although improved monitoring should minimise this risk
  • The cost of gas can be expensive

To download a pdf of the above information please click the links below:

For information on how to make the most of your LPG central heating system read the central heating information above.

Solid fuel

Solid fuel heating systems burn fuels like wood pellet, coal and logs to provide warmth to a single room or to power central heating and hot water boilers.

A stove can be used to heat a room and also possibly a back boiler to provide hot water, or a boiler will burn fuels and be connected to a central heating and hot water system.

Some companies now offer deliveries of solid fuel anywhere in mainland Britain, while the supply of logs and other solid fuels is more variable and can generally be picked up locally.

Advantages of solid fuels

  • Although the price of solid fuel varies considerably, it is often cheaper than other heating options.
  • Biomass is a low carbon heating option, with the fuel emitting only what was absorbed over the months and years that the plant was growing.
  • Solid fuel is a reliable energy source
  • The fuel is easily available across the UK with well established infrastructure supporting its use

Disadvantages of solid fuel

  • Solid fuel boilers are larger than gas or oil equivalents
  • Space to store the fuel is needed.
  • As the fuel is often delivered by road it is possible you could run out before the next delivery
  • Ash will potentially need removing regularly from the system

To download a pdf of the above information please click the links below:

For information on how to make the most of your solid fuel central heating system read the central heating information above.

Oil

Similar to LPG (liquid petroleum gas), Oil fired central heating is installed in some of our properties, where a mains gas supply is not connected or available. The oil is delivered by road and then stored in a tank which can be above or below ground. As with LPG, oil tanks can be bought or rented from oil suppliers.

Orbit is aware of oil syndicates which group together a number of households in a specific area, who purchase oil in a large quantities and gain oil price discounts. We are currently seeking to identify where these syndicates operate in relation to where Orbit customers live – we will soon publish the location and contact details of syndicates to allow customers to benefit from cheaper oil prices via syndicates.

Oil is normally used as the fuel which delivers the heat for off grid ‘wet’ heating systems, oil-fired boilers heat water which is then circulated through home via the central heating systems radiators and hot water through the taps in your home.

Heat-only and combination condensing oil-fired boiler types are also both available. Most oil-fired combination boilers have an internal hot water store to supply domestic hot water rather than the instantaneous heating more common in gas boilers.

Advantages of oil

  • Oil is a highly efficient fuel, so you get a good return on every unit of energy.
  • Oil is a reliable energy source
  • The fuel is easily available across the UK with well established infrastructure supporting its use
  • Oil syndicates exist to allow group buying discounts

Disadvantages of oil

  • The tank has to be purchased - Orbit will supply the tank to customers
  • The oil tank and all appliances need to be serviced annually by a certified oil engineer - Orbit has a responsibility to conduct the servicing but requires customers to allow access
  • As the fuel is delivered by road it is possible you could run out before the next delivery, although improved monitoring should minimise this risk
  • The cost of oil can be expensive (it is normally more expensive than gas) as it is dependent on the volatile world markets, it is also normally supplied in minimum quantities i.e. 500 litres.
  • Most condensing oil-fired boilers are floor standing taking up valuable floor space
  • As a fossil fuel, oil produces carbon dioxide when it’s burned and can’t be considered a clean source of energy.
  • Oil fired combination boilers generally limit the hot water flow rate to ensure the water is as hot as it should be, meaning the hot water flow rate can be low

To download a pdf of the above information please click the links below:

For information on how to make the most of your LPG central heating system read the central heating information above.

Storage Heaters

Shutterstock1166022Storage heaters work by using cheaper off peak electricity to heat up overnight. They then store this heat in bricks to be released the following day.

Having an Economy 7 or Economy 10 meter will help you to use your storage heaters as efficiently as possible because this type of meter/tariff provides cheaper electricity over night when your storage heaters are using electricity. Economy 7 and Economy 10 times are usually between 12 midnight and 8am, with Economy 10 offering and additional 3 hours during the day, however these times can change depending on your supplier and where you live.

Storage heaters usually have an Input dial, an Output dial and some will have a boost or fan heater setting. These dials are normally found on top of your storage heater under a flap. Using these dials correctly will allow you to control the heat in your home more effectively.

Input Dial

This allows you to adjust the amount of heat that is stored up overnight. The colder it is likely to be, the higher you may need to set this dial. If you are likely to be out for a lot of the next day or it is not that cold, it is worth considering setting the input dial lower to save money.  

Output Dial

This dial adjusts the amount of heat that is released the following day. If you set this dial as low as you are comfortable with during the night and following morning, it means the heat will not be released all at once and will help save some heat for later in the day.  

Boost

Some storage heaters have a Boost, this should only be used if you run out of stored heat or if you need more heat as this function uses additional electricity which would be charged at your more expensive day rate. This can be useful if it is very cold or if you forget to switch on your heaters the night before, but not all heaters have this function.

To download a pdf of the above information please click the links below:

Immersion Heaters

An immersion heater is an electric water heater. It works in a very similar way to most standard kettles, i.e. there is an element (metal coil) within a water tank (cylinder) which heats the water up to a specified temperature.

Optimized Shutterstock17951989These heaters are usually thermostatically controlled and will keep the water at the desired temperature for as long as it is switched on. They can normally be set to come on automatically or manually and will need their own power supply. Immersion heaters can be used as the main water heater, or they can be used as a back-up water heater for System or Heat only boilers.

If you have an Immersion Heater running on an Economy 7 tariff, if possible, set the timer on your hot water tank so that the immersion heater comes on during the night, even if you use the hot water during the day.

Immersion heaters are common in homes with older heating systems, however, some are present as back-ups in homes with more modern combined boilers.

Immersion heaters are useful as they will still work if your main boiler breaks down, however, they can be expensive as heating water with electricity is more expensive than with gas. If you have an Immersion heater you should:

  • Only use it for 1-2 hours per day as anymore can be very expensive
  • Make sure it is well insulated so the water stays at a higher temperature for longer without the heater needing to be on
  • Ensure it heats water to above 50°C to kill off bacteria
  • Set timers to ensure the immersion heater runs during cheaper off-peak hours.

Please note: when not in use, make sure you turn off the fused spur to avoid unnecessary charges on your electricity bill.

To download a pdf of the above information please click the links below:

Heat Pumps

What are heat pumps?  

A heat pump is an electrically powered appliance which transfers heat from one place to another. Similar to your refrigerator, which transfers heat from inside the appliance to the outside, heat pumps transfer heat from outside your home to the inside. Heat pumps can transfer heat from ground or air close to your property and increase the temperature so you can use the heat in your home.  

How do they work?  

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) use pipes which are buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, warm air heating systems and hot water in your home.

GSHP circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipe – called a ground loop – which is buried in your garden. Heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid and then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump.

The ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, so the heat pump can be used throughout the year – even in the middle of winter.

Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) take heat from the air. The pump can get heat from the air even when the temperature is very low. The heat is again transferred to a fluid which passes through a compressor where the temperature is increased; this heat is then used to heat your radiators. 

How will my fuel bills be affected?

Heat pumps could:

  • lower your fuel bills, especially if you replace conventional electric heating
  • lower your home’s carbon emissions, depending on which fuel you are replacing
  • heat your home and provide hot water  

Don’t forget you will still have to pay bills with a heat pump because they are powered by electricity, but they should be less than before. If your old heating system cost a lot of money to heat a room, such as electric storage heaters, you are more likely to see lower running costs with a new heat pump.    

Controlling your heat pump  

When the home thermostat calls for heating, the controller activates both the heating circulation pump and the heat pump. Heated water is then circulated through the radiator system. The return temperature of the water flowing through the system is controlled by the thermostat mounted on the unit.  

Which is the best way to set the timer and temperature?

It is better to run the heat pump for longer periods of time at moderate temperatures than for short periods at high temperatures. Heat pumps work much more efficiently at a lower temperature for longer periods than a standard boiler.

We recommend setting the thermostat between 19°C & 21°C; this is shown to be the best temperature for health and comfort as recommended by the World Health Organisation. You will also notice that the radiators will not be hot to touch as they can be for gas or oil heating.

During colder months it may be necessary to increase the temperature setting on the thermostat, but remember to turn it down again when the weather warms up.   Heat pumps prioritise space heating over water; it costs more money if they are working to heat space and water together at once. So it is a good idea to programme the heating first and then programme water to come on afterwards.  

How should I set Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV)?

It is best to keep the main area's TRVs set high. This is so the flow of heat from the heat pumps around the radiators is not restricted. Heat pumps turn off when they have reached the thermostat temperature so you do not need to rely on TRVs to do this.    

There is usually one thermostat for the whole house with a temperature set that the heat pumps will aim to achieve in all rooms. In order to have different temperatures in different rooms you will want to use the TRV’s. For example, you may want to set your TRV’s to 21c in the living areas but 18c in bedrooms.  

Tariff Information  

If you were previously using night storage heaters and were on an Economy 7 or 10, this may no longer be appropriate. We recommend you consider switching your tariff, information on how you can do this is available on our switching page.  

Hot Water

The immersion heater in a heat pump is really only there as a backup and comes on when the heat pump is struggling to get the water up to the designated temperature,  this may happen when its particularly cold.

To download a pdf of the above information please click the links below:

MVHR

What is MVHR?

The main purpose of Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems are to provide fresh air in relatively airtight buildings. As building become more energy efficient, air tightness triggers a number of issues which require solutions, such as high humidity and the associated fungus and mould growth. This means that some form of ventilation is needed to remedy these issues, hence mechanical or controlled ventilation.

What does it do?

Your MVHR system not only ventilates and extracts air from rooms which normally have extractor fans, such as kitchen, bathrooms and utility rooms, but also provide fresh air into all living spaces, such as bedrooms, living & dining areas, studies, etc. With the air moving slowly from supply rooms through hallways and stair cases into the extract rooms, MVHR systems ensure that all areas of the building are well ventilated.

Unlike the common mechanical extractor systems MVHR systems also recover the heat in the air before it is exhausted outside, warming the fresh air which it introduces into the building.

Why is it fitted to your home?

Key benefits of MVHR include year round removal of condensation and indoor pollutants, reduction of a buildings carbon footprint, improved property SAP ratings, enhanced air quality and reduced heat loss.

What do you need to do?

MVHR systems, like most building systems, require maintenance and servicing throughout their lifetime to ensure consistent ventilation is provided, we recommend:

  • Filters are replaced every 6-12 months
  • Grills are cleaned regularly by either vacuuming around, or removing and wiping with a damp cloth
  • Heat exchanger is cleaned intermittently during the lifetime of the unit and replaced every 10 years.

Please note: the cost of filters will normally be covered by the savings made during the products lifetime.

To download a pdf of the above information please click the links below:

For more information please contact Customer Service Centre on info@orbit.org.uk, via our website enquiry form or call 0800 678 1221.

Some storage heaters have a Boost

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