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How to use central heating controls

Understanding how to use central heating controls properly will not only make your life easier, but it will optimise your energy usage. So, whether you're looking to save money on your heating bills or just want to be comfortable, keep scrolling for our expert advice on navigating your boiler.

With the various makes and models on the market, knowing how to use central heating controls is becoming less obvious. Thankfully we’re here to break it all down and simplify the process.

Setting up your system the right way can help you claw back a few pennies on your heating bills.

So, keep reading for our expert advice on how to set your timers, turn on your heating manually, and find the ideal temperature to set your thermostat.

How do I control my central heating system?

Central heating controls might seem a bit intimidating at first. However, once you understand how they work, they make your life a lot easier.

How to set central heating timer control

Let’s start with setting the timers. Setting your heating to come on and go off at certain times will help you save money on your energy bills. This is because you’ll make sure your heating isn’t on when you don’t need it.

Most modern central heating systems come with a timer, which lets you set alternative heating schedules for different days of the week.

To set the timers, you’ll need to access the controls on your heating system. These controls are usually located on the boiler or on a wall-mounted thermostat.

The specific steps for setting the timers will depend on the make and model of your heating system, so it’s important to refer to your user manual for guidance.

How to set the central heating timer dial or digital timer

In general, to set the timers, you’ll need to:

  • Press the timer button on your control panel or thermostat
  • Use the arrow buttons or dial to set the time that you want your heating to come on and go off
  • Repeat this process for each day of the week, as required
  • Once you have set your desired times, press the timer button again to confirm your settings

NB: It’s worth noting that some modern heating systems come with ‘smart’ controls, which allow you to set the heating schedule using a smartphone app. These systems can be particularly useful if you have a variable schedule or if you’re going to be away from home for an extended period.

Related content: Cost of smart thermostat.

Checkatrade blog: How to set your central heating digital timer

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How to turn your heating on manually

On a particularly cold day, you might want to boost your heating. To do this, you’ll need to know how to turn your heating on manually.

Again, the specific steps for turning on your heating manually will depend on the make and model of your heating system. However, in general, you’ll need to:

  • Locate the ‘on/off’ button on your control panel or thermostat
  • Press the button to turn the heating on
  • Adjust the temperature setting on your thermostat to your desired level

NB: Remember to turn your heating off manually when you no longer want it on or you’re suitably toasty. Leaving it on can waste energy and increase your heating bills.

Combi boiler controls explained – Checkatrade blog on how to use central heating controls

Combi boiler controls explained

Combi boilers are a popular type of central heating system that provides both heating and hot water from a single unit. They come with their own set of controls to manage this, which are a bit confusing to navigate at first.

Here are the different controls you might find on a typical combi boiler and what they do.

On/off switch

The on/off switch is the main control for your combi boiler. It does exactly what it sounds like and turns your boiler on and off.

Some combi boilers don’t have a separate on/off switch. In this case, they’ll simply turn on automatically when you turn on the hot water tap or the heating.

Temperature control

The temperature control on a combi boiler allows you to adjust the temperature of the water that comes out of your taps or showers.

Depending on the make and model of your combi boiler, the temperature control is a dial or a button you can press to cycle through different temperature settings.

Pressure gauge

The pressure gauge on a combi boiler shows you the current pressure of the system. If the pressure is too low, you may experience a drop in performance or even a loss of heating and hot water. On the contrary, if the pressure is too high, you could potentially damage your boiler.

So, if you notice that the pressure on your combi boiler is outside of the recommended range, it’s important to call a qualified heating engineer to investigate the issue.

Timer/programmer

Many combi boilers come with a timer or programmer. This allows you to set different heating and hot water schedules throughout the day, which is useful for saving energy and making sure your home is warm and comfortable when you need it to be.

Fault indicator

Some combi boilers come with a fault indicator, which will light up or display an error code if there’s a problem with your system. If you notice a fault indicator on your combi boiler, it’s important to refer to the user manual or call a qualified heating engineer to investigate the issue.

Related content: Plumbers or heating engineers: who do I need?

Reset button

Many combi boilers come with a reset button, which you can use to reset your system if it’s experiencing a fault or other issue. It’s important to note that resetting your combi boiler should only be done if you’re confident that you know what you’re doing.

It’s always best to consult the user manual or call a qualified heating engineer if you’re unsure.

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FAQs

What temperature should the central heating thermostat be set at?

The ideal temperature to set your central heating thermostat will depend on your personal preferences and the season. During the colder months, most people set their temperature to around 18 – 21°C, which is a comfortable level of heat for most homes.

However, during milder weather, it’s worth turning down your thermostat a few degrees to save energy and reduce your heating bills.

It’s also worth noting the temperature you set your thermostat to will impact your energy usage and bills. For every degree you turn your thermostat up, expect your energy usage to increase by around 5 – 10%.

It’s important to strike a balance between comfort and energy efficiency when setting your thermostat.

Can I replace my central heating control?

Yes, it’s often possible to replace your central heating control if you need to. However, make sure any new control you install is compatible with your central heating system. You’ll also need the necessary skills and experience to carry out the replacement safely.

Before replacing your central heating control, consult the user manual or seek advice from a qualified heating engineer. They’ll advise you on the best type of control to install and offer guidance about how to safely carry out the replacement.

Do you turn the thermostat up or down for heat?

To increase the temperature in your home, you need to turn your thermostat up. This sends a signal to your central heating system to produce more heat and raise the temperature of your home. If you want to lower the temperature in your home, turn your thermostat down.

It often takes some time for your central heating system to respond to changes in the thermostat setting – particularly if your home has large rooms or high ceilings. So, it’s a good idea to set your thermostat to your desired temperature in advance, rather than waiting until you feel chilly or too warm.

How does the central heating switch work?

The central heating switch is typically used to turn your heating on or off manually. Depending on the make and model of your central heating system, the switch is physically on the wall or it’s a button on your central heating control panel.

To turn your central heating on, simply flip the switch or press the button. Your central heating system will then start producing heat and warming your home. To turn your central heating off, simply flip the switch or press the button again.

NB: If you have a central heating timer or programmer, it’s more energy-efficient to use these controls to set specific times for your heating to come on and off, rather than relying on manual controls. However, the central heating switch is useful if you want to quickly turn your heating on or off outside of your usual schedule.

Related content: The most economical way to use central heating.

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