This is not a drill – planning for winter

central heating strategy

For us, May and June have not been what we could call warm or summery. Frankly, the weather has been cold, wet and miserable. Typically, on last year’s tariffs, our central heating would still be on, but with the price of electricity at the moment (and for the foreseeable future) our heating been off since late April.

The house not been uncomfortable. We’re used to temperatures in living areas of around 21-22C. With the heating off, the southern part of the house maintains around 20C, and the northern part (where our TV room is) drops to 18-19C on overcast days, which does feel very cool.

But we’ve decided to suck it up. The heating has stayed off to save money and the air source heat pump is now only heating our hot water – to an efficient 44C. On days with little or no solar gain, we’re layering up with an extra sweat shirt or jumper, and an extra blanket has gone on the bed.

On really cold days, like the Sunday of the Queen’s Jubilee, where we never exceeded 9C, we put on a small fire on in the kitchen/diner and watched TV there in the evening.

Generally speaking, we’ve been pleased with the way the house has held out at these lower temperatures with no heating and that’s in no small part to our efforts in removing drafts from the property, and we’ve now replaced all the leaky doors and windows.

So it’s going to be really interesting to see how we heat our property this winter. We may just turn down the target temperatures in the northern part of the house to 18-19C just to prevent damp, and only heat the main living areas and master bedroom.

This should, in practice, drop our electricity consumption, but I’ve seen that even when our air source heat pump is idling on a mildish day (8C) it’s still consuming in the region of 2kWh, which equates to around 50kWh per day. At our current tariff of 33p/kWh that’s a whopping £16.50/day or £495/month. And that’s with the pump idling.

What happens if the temperatures drop to around 0C for a few weeks? The consumption will go up to 3-3.5kWh/hour almost doubling the running costs, and we certainly can’t afford to be forking out nearly £1,000 for heating per month.

So what do we do? Do we run in hybrid mode with HVO? Do we just use the heat pump? Just HVO? Do we just turn off our heating altogether and see how cold we get? We’ll have to see.

For us the challenge is that we need to heat a relatively large footprint and our heat pump (not being a high temperature unit) needs to run all the time to keep the house at temperature. If we turn it off for a day (or if there’s a blackout), and it’s less than 6C outside, it’ll take at least 24 hours to get the house back to temperature.

So we’re going to have a plan A, B and C and roll them out as and when we need to. The final plan will be to invest in mohair socks and blankets, along with some thermals and walk around like the Michelin man.

What’s your plan when it comes to heating this winter? Are you at all concerned or do you have things under control? Drop a comment below.

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21 days ago

Thanks for the post. I wonder if all in one body warmers are going to come into fashion, a sort of duvet onesie, in order to cut down on house heating but keep the body warm!

Adam C
228 kWhs
20 days ago

Hi Mars, 2kW as a minimum capacity seems very high. If you have a COP of 3 then your houses is using 144kW of heating per day. Does this tally with your heat loss calculations?
My 16kW Daikin unit will ramp down to around 700W of consumption before shutting of, 2kW if that is the minimum speed of the compressor seems high. Maybe ask your supplier what the minimum speed/consumption of the system is.

Jenny Ross
Reply to  Mars
18 days ago

Just for comparison our total consumption in a 3 bedroom detached house was 1200 kWh Dec-Jan maintaining a constant temperature of 20 degrees during the day.

113 kWhs
19 days ago

Reading this makes me dither slightly with our almost committed decision of heat pump installation (HT Daikin unit). My instinct is telling me to plough on and not question what was, until only a few months ago, a logical and almost financially justified (ignoring payback) decision. The dynamics of everyones heating choices are tragically now in the hands of a deranged Russian individual, and global supply and demand factors. I never thought it would be so difficult. SWS

18 days ago

You could flip your thought process.

“What could i do to half my annual energy consumption or cost and still keep warm? ”

That may help thinking about big changes, requiring quite a bit of capital expense and time. It doesn’t mean you will ever make the changes but it might be a useful exercise if you haven’t already done it.

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