Heating controls on gas systems

Heating controls on gas systems
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Heating controls on gas systems To get the best out of your heating system, you need to use the controls you
have in the best possible way. Look out for one or more of these controls on
your system and have a go at setting them.
What is a thermostat?
A thermostat adjusts the amount of heating and cooling produced and/or distributed by automatically
responding to the temperature surrounding it
Time switches or programmers
These control the times at which the central heating and hot water systems are
switched on and off. You may be able to control these separately, although
many older versions only allow you to set the same time for both. Make sure of
the following;
• The on/off periods are set as required (many have 24 hour clocks)
• You have selected an appropriate programme, for example ‘twice a day’
or ‘hot water only’
• Each day has been programmed as required if it is a more modern
7- day programmer
Most programmers have an ‘override’ facility. If the programmer has switched
the system off, using the override switch will bring the heating on. Following this,
the programmer will resume control and switch the system off at the pre-set time.
Room thermostats
If you have one of these it may well be in the living room or the hall. It
responds to the temperature in that room. When the room is warmed up to
the temperature set, the thermostat tells the central heating system to
switch off. Room thermostats should be set between 18-21°C and ideally
should not be placed where other sources of heat may affect them. For
example, sunshine, cookers, TVs, in very cool places or very close to an
outside door. Remember that the room thermostat only works to turn the
heating on and off when the programmer is in an ‘on’ phase.
Thermostatic radiator valves
It is possible to control the temperature in each room by using thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs). Fitted
on radiators, TRVs incorporate a thermostat that senses air temperature in the room. They can be set to a
required temperature and will work automatically to maintain that temperature. Some systems are fitted
without a room thermostat but include TRVs on all radiators except one, so that all rooms are controlled
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Boiler thermostat
This thermostat is fitted on the boiler itself and controls the temperature of the water going through the radiators
and hot water cylinder.The boiler thermostat is usually marked 1-9 or 1-max, which is the same as the temperature
of around 50°C to 90°C. Some older central heating systems do not have room thermostats but depend on the
boiler thermostat for the control of the room temperature.You will have to find out the appropriate setting by trial
and error. If there is a room thermostat, the boiler thermostat should be set high 80°C (180°F) in the coldest part of
winter to enable the heating system to warm the house more rapidly. During the milder
parts of the year the temperature should be reduced to about 75°C (170°F) or to about
65°C (150°F) when used for hot water only.
Hot water tank thermostat
If you have a tank thermostat, this should be set at 60-65°C. Any hotter and it will
scald, any cooler and bacteria may breed in the cylinder.
Controls on a solid fuel systems
Controls on a central heating system which runs on solid fuel, e.g. coal, are basically the same
as for those for other ‘wet’ systems with one or two exceptions. Because the fuel source cannot actually be switched
off, there is always hot water available, so the hot water cylinder acts as the heat escape. When the thermostat or the
timer for the central heating system calls for heat, a fan or bellows draws air over the coals to make them burn more
Controlling gas room heaters
Gas, paraffin and bottled gas heaters normally have a range of settings, but these too have to be controlled
manually. Many electrical portable heaters have thermostatic control. Fan heaters, oil filled radiators, and convector
heaters and radiators have built-in time switches so that they can be timed to come on and go off when required,
and are used as part of total heating packages.
Warming up and cooling down
If you have a timer on your heating, you’ll be able to use this to help keep
the house warm when you need it to be. Do remember that the house will
take time to warm up but will also take time to cool down once everything
is switched on. It is worth experimenting to find out how long the ’warming
up’ and ‘cooling down’ periods take so you can plan for this.
Tel. 0800 358 6669
The Kent Energy Centre works in partnership
with Kent’s 13 local authorities
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