For the first few years of living in my seaside home it was pretty darned chilly. In winter time my good friend Mr Metrosexual would pop in for a cuppa. He’d huddle by a radiator, shivering and keep his hat, coat and scarf on. It wasn’t for the want of trying. I did try to heat the house. The fuel bills demonstrated that I was giving it a good go. I just wasn’t very successful.
Along came Hot Stuff, boyfriend of the heating engineer genre. I met him in August just over three years ago now. By September he was grumbling as the temperature dropped. ‘If we’re going to make this relationship work we’re going to have to do someone to warm up your house.’ And so began his quest to make things more cosy. He started by wandering around the house tutting. He had a wheel like gadget that calculates the recommended output of radiators in each room. There wasn’t nearly enough. After a swift introduction to the delights of Screwfix I got promoted to plumber’s mate. Over the space of a couple of months we first installed more radiators downstairs and then some in Louis’ attic room. Would you believe that there wasn’t central heating up there at all? No wonder he used my bedroom as his hangout space as winter set in.
But that’s not all. A Wiser Smart heating device was installed that can be fiddled with from a phone app. My boiler controls and room thermostats are now monitored and there’s a magnetic thingy in my understairs cupboard that keeps the whole system clean and allegedly more efficient. Just in case we’re not toasty enough I was somehow persuaded that a wood burner would be a good idea. That arrived last winter. These devices seem to be getting bad press from an environmental perspective recently but we burn dry, sustainable wood (a by-product of a tree surgeon) and our stove is super efficient. You can’t even see the tiniest puff of smoke from the chimney.
And we’re not over yet. Apparently all the radiators on the first floor are going to be replaced with double panel versions. There may be more jiggery pokery as I think some may be moved around a bit. Hot Stuff is mumbling about the need for floorboards to come up. He’s also looking at increasing our home insulation, sealing gaps, putting in cavity wall insultation, more efficient glazing in the sunroom and building a fully enclosed porch.
I was worried that my fuel bills would go through the roof with all that extra output. They have increased but not wildly. However a direct comparison isn’t really possible. Fuel prices have risen. More importantly the changes in my heating system coincided with a transition in my working practices. I’m often at home for a full day now and justify turning up the temperature to heat my home office as I save money on transport costs.
The moral of this story? Well it’s worth thinking about the efficiency of your existing heating system. Investing in changes such as heating controls and more radiators that have improved output can yield significant improvements in comfort levels without massive hikes in cost. Like for like they could even represent a reduction in bills as every thing will work more efficiently. Mr Metrosexual certainly approves. When he comes around for elevenses he now takes all his outdoor clothing off!