/ Home & Energy

Have you switched your heating on yet?

cosy cat on radiator

Every year I swear I won’t do it until the clocks go back and every year I almost always fail.

This year’s been no exception. Yep, I’ve finally let go of summer for another year (sob!) and switched the heating back on.

This year I really did try to persevere, mostly because I’ve finally got my heating bill down to an affordable monthly payment and I’m loathe to see it get hiked up again next year. So I resisted the thermostat and layered up instead.

I duly put on fluffy socks and slippers, and a furry gilet, snuggled under a faux-fur blanket (there’s a theme here), filled up hot-water bottles and wedged the novelty draft excluders into the gaps at the bottom of my doors.

Alas, I had to admit defeat at the end of last week when the cat abandoned me and I could see my breath and feel my ears and nose burning from the cold.

The great boiler switch-on

But it seems I’ve held out for longer than some. According to data collected from British Gas Hive Active Heating customers, 35% of my fellow Londoners switched their heating on at the tail end of September. In the same week, 78% of Hive customers in chilly Scotland ramped up their thermostat, while 65% did it in the North East, 63% in the West Midlands and 40% in the South West.

And although I can’t remember exactly when I turned my heating on last year (I definitely vowed to not do it until the clocks went back though!), it seems that, thanks to the late summer, most of the country has held out for four weeks longer this year.

Cost-effective heating

I’m still not giving in entirely though. I’m only giving my Victorian conversion (think very high ceilings) a quick blast to ‘warm it through’ every now and again, and I make sure I switch off the heating altogether when I go to bed at night. But could this practice actually be costing me more or should I just leave the heating on low all day from now until winter is over, even when I’m not at home?

According to our experts, if you keep the heating on low all day, you’re losing energy all day, so it’s better to programme your heating to only work when the house is occupied. Set your timer, so it’s nice and warm for when you get in. Read our tips for how to save money on heating your home and getting the best from your heating controls.

Tom Sullivan from Active Plumbing and Heating Solutions, who is endorsed by Which? Trusted Traders, also suggests the following:

  1. 1. Install thermostatic radiator valves
  2. 2. Use a seven-day, programmable thermostat
  3. 3. Try weather compensation controls
  4. 4. Use your controls effectively
  5. 5. Ensure you have the right boiler for your home
  6. 6. Give your system a regular check-up

And with some forecasters predicting this winter to be the coldest and snowiest for six years, it certainly pays to bear these tips in mind.

Still, I’m holding on to the hope that I can switch it off as soon as the clocks go forward at the end of March.

Have you put on your heating yet? What are your top tips for keeping warm in-between seasons?

Have you switched your heating on yet?

Yes, my heating is on now (80%, 1,993 Votes)

No, but I may do soon (12%, 302 Votes)

No, I'm holding out until after the clocks go back (8%, 204 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,499

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Comments
Member

Our condensing gas boiler provides radiator heating and hot water. The programmer controls water as needed but heating on all year round, 24 hours a day. The main room is south facing and is well heated by the sun, lasting well into the evening in the summer. With the thermostat set at 21 C our gas consumption in summer is almost totally to supply hot water. With themostatic valves on radiators I believe we have a sensible system where comfort is a priority. Personally I’d switch heating on when it becomes uncomfortably cool rather than sticking to a date; gas is so convenient there seems no reason to do otherwise. It was different when we had a solid fuel boiler; we did delay lighting that up until the weather demanded it. An electric heater then provided “emergency” heating but at a price.

Member

I do exactly the same, but, just occasionally, in “Summer” the heating kicks in on a cold morning and after an hour, the sun has made it unnecessary. I also do this because I believe a constant temperature in the house helps the fabric and stops the plaster cracking. Could be wrong on that, but it seemed to be the case, many years ago when I turned the heating off during work hours and came back to an ice box that then warmed up again. Plaster cracks were more frequent then. Of course, when I’m “on duty” that house is always warm.

Member

Not sure about the plaster cracking, but we used to turn the heating off if we went on holiday in winter. The house would take 2-3 days to warm up again when returned.

Member

Our heating has been on for a couple of weeks now, but only in the daytime when required. When it gets colder, the heating will be on 24/7 although set at a lower night temperature. We found it worked out cheaper than turning it off at night.

The last quarter, our gas consumption was ZERO for the first time ever. Gas usually gets used to boost the hot water if we need it but wasn’t required.

Member

Two hours before this Convo appeared I turned the heating on ,10 days previously BG serviced my boiler. Consumption of gas up till that time ?–4 units .

Member

My heating has been on for at least a month, though mainly in the evening. One of the drawbacks of the house I have moved into is that there is only one thermostatic radiator valve – on one of the radiators in the lounge. I fitted TRVs in my previous home many years ago and it is strange just having ordinary valves. I must remedy the situation.

The heating system is set up to heat the bathrooms when either the heating or hot water is on. I like this arrangement because by the time the water is hot enough for a shower, the room is warm.

I always switch the heating off when I go out. Before it gets cold I will swap the thermostat for one that can be used as a frost-stat over the Christmas holidays or to set a minimum overnight temperature.

Member
bishbut says:
12 October 2016

When energy was cheap and central heating became the thing to have people started to over heat their houses and got used to living in an “hot” house .Now when energy costs are high they still want their houses hot even though the could and did live in a cooler house .What did people do before central heating ?? I remember when I complained about being cold just told to put another jersey on People have grown soft as regards to the cold .My heating will not go on until it gets cold very cold I can live happily in a cool house not an oven which many people seem to want I did not even think about CH until got it offered for free Now mine is only used as and when needed

Member

When I saw your comment with forecasters predicting this winter to be the coldest and snowiest for six years I had to do a quick check to ensure it wasn’t April 1st or simply a very old topic. Which? has an obligation to get things right and that statement is as far from right as you can get. It’s not even remotely right. In fact, right left the room some time ago and hasn’t even sent a postcard.

The simple fact is that there is no way at all that anyone can predict weather reliably for longer than five days at the very most and they often struggle with three. I could go into the reasons why they can’t, but to save time and space I would only point out that no forecaster who knows their subject would say such a thing. The Daily Express loves to feature weather predictions on its front page, but have you ever seen how many have materialised? Think slightly below single figure percentages.

Weather forecasting is a horrendously complex subject, that depends on acquiring an immense amount of data on a very regular basis, determining trends, scrunching numbers and feeding the results into programs which eventually produce a series of probable outcomes, all of which has to be repeated every six hours or so, roughly the amount of time it takes the fastest computers in the world just to assimilate the raw data. The experienced forecasters then cast their eyes over 25 – 40 of those probable outcomes and make a decision as to which seem the most likely from their extensive experience. And all that just for the next 48 hours’ weather. So any ‘expert’ who claims to have the slightest idea about what the weather will do in the next few months is simply making a guess. Unless they have a private line to the Underworld.

I have a very active interest in weather forecasting and, on a walk across the mountain recently, I commented to my other half that since we’d had four fairly mild winters in succession we were overdue for a cold and snowy one. So that tips the probability of a cold snap towards the ‘slightly more likely’ category. The weather pattern this autumn has also been highly unusual and atypical. It’s pretty rare to have a big blocking high sitting firmly across Scandinavia at this stage, and the wind coming from the East has made any sort of prediction for me mighty difficult (my wife does rely on me and the kit to tell her if it’s safe to put the washing out, so the tumble drier has seen extensive and very carefully supervised use). But all that’s a long way from being able to say with any degree of certainty what the winter’s going to be like.

So, my prediction which is far, far more accurate than your expert’s: This winter there will be a lot of weather. We can expect cold air from the North, warm moist air from the South West, and mucky air from the South East. Some winds will even blow from time to time, and there will be cold bits mixed in. I can say with 100% confidence that it will not snow heavily on Christmas Eve in NE Wapping and that a Heat Wave will not affect Wick on Christmas Day. Throughout winter we can expect variable weather which will, in due course, give way to warmer conditions as we near June . This forecast is provided free of charge to all Which? Conversation readers. God Bless America.

Member

Ian, if I could knit I’d send you a sweater patterned with clouds, sun and snowflakes.

Melanie’s intro was generally tongue in cheek. however, she overlooked the value of having a cat as a living hotwater bottle.

I do wish, though, that Which? would think more carefully about what they print that might be taken seriously. As you say “with forecasters predicting this winter to be the coldest and snowiest for six years,” is untrue and unsustainable. The danger is if people think they will have to use a lot more gas or electricity than normal they might switch to an inappropriate tariff. Advice from Which? should be based on fact, not on tabloid headlines.

Member

There are no berries on the holly bush yet………….

But I think Ian is spot on with his weather predictions.

Member

Hmm the Which? weather forecast sounds like an interesting one, sadly it’s not really our expertise. Admittedly there’s uncertainty about what the winter will have in store for us, but some experts are warning that there could be a harsh winter ahead of us while the Met Office states that currently we are expecting a fairly normal British winter as there’s little to indicate otherwise at this stage.

In any case I’ve added ‘some’ into the convo…

P.s. while it it may be but an old wives tale, there are an awful lot of berries about which traditionally indicates a harsh winter ahead of us…. I’ll leave you all to debate the science behind that 🙂

Member

Point taken on the weather front, Ian. Here’s where I got the information from:

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1852997/uk-facing-heaviest-snowfall-in-years-as-the-countrys-first-icy-blast-arrives-in-just-six-weeks/

We’ve since amended our convo to reflect your point. 🙂

Really hope there’s more ⛅⛅⛅ than ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️, though!

Member

My cat would not be a reliable hot-water bottle, I’m afraid, Malcolm. In fact, on that front, he’d be a Don’t Buy! 😉

Member

The reason there might be more winter berries on the bushes than usual at this time of the year is that the late summer and early autumn periods have provided the birds with plenty of other tasty morsels that are still in abundance – siders, snails, ants and worms are still readily available and it seems to have been a bumper year for moths even if butterfly numbers appear to be down. My grapes have just ripened fully and seem to be quite popular.

Following up Bishbut’s comment earlier today, I too have been surprised at how soon people have turned on their central heating given that most homes now have double glazing and much better insulation than was the case just a few decades ago. I expect the reason is that people don’t wish to wear much indoors these days and the more sedentary lifestyle requires a higher temperature. We find that the heat coming from the hot water system, cooking, appliances, televisions and lighting are adequate at this time of the year and we still have windows open selectively.

Member

@mtrain, If only you had said that Which? got their information from “The Sun” !!(I presume the “news”paper as opposed to the shiny orb in the sky that might be letting us know it is off on a winter sports holiday). Had we been informed the information came from Rupert’s group, well known for its unstinting efforts to seek out the truth and make it known (by hacking into the weather’s mobile maybe) then all our scepticism would have been averted. 🙂

Member

Does it leak, Melanie?

Member

John, turning “on” your heating does not mean it will “come on” as, of course, it will be controlled by the existing temperature in the house. i left mine on all summer but I don’t think it was ever necessary to provide any additional heat. So I see no real point in turning it off.

Member

I am in the habit of switching the heating function off by about the middle of June and then on again sometime in October. Turning it off avoids the pump running and any tendency for the system to ‘cycle’. Keeping the primary thermostat at around 17-18 degrees is satisfactory through the winter. The upstairs zone has separate controls so we tweak it a lot more both for timing and temperature and use the TRV’s to ‘balance’ the heat according to the rooms in use. When I last counted there were twenty radiators in the house, over three storeys, and we tend to keep all the doors open to provide an overall comfortable ambience, albeit some rooms are kept cooler than others.

Member

Malcolm – If you are keeping your thermostat at a constant 21°C and the heating is not coming on in the summer, you must live somewhere warm.

Member

The room where it is situated receives a lot of solar heat during the day and evening. Gas consumption in the summer is very low, mainly for hot water. An occasional energising of the pump though is not a bad thing.

Member

I was so disappointed to follow your link to be only taken to the Sun newspaper. I though t Which? Was more discerning…..

Member

Most people turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms but from what I have read and seen it is common to leave these rooms fully heated. It’s just one aspect of our very wasteful society.

Member

Hence thermostatic radiator valves, wavechange, that you can turn down to suit the use of the room but keep the chill off.

However, never fear. with smart phone apps you will soon be able to control everything in your house – including the temperature in each room – using apps on your smart phone, from anywhere in the world. As most have little else to occupy them this should keep them entertained. You may, of course, have to buy some expensive bits of kit to make this happen and do the calculations to see if the capital cost is repaid by the (in this case) energy savings.

We Brits, according to some are, however, incapable of making such calculations so we’ll just have to believe all we are told. 🙂 and give our trusting financial support to the “internet of things”.

Member

I have used TRVs since the early 80s but as I said, some people leave unoccupied rooms fully heated. I’m not interested in smart phone control, but if it gets people thinking about conserving energy, that would be welcome. I’ve noticed that friends who have solar panels and feed power into the grid have become much more aware of energy.

Member

One of the consequences of replacing filament, halogen and CFL lamps with LED’s is that I care less about leaving the lights on. I know that’s not the right idea but it has become a common practice to keep side lights and table lights on continuously at night time.

Member

LEDs with separate electronic drivers have power factors of 0.9 or better. Replacement lamp LEDs, such as you buy for your home, will generally have power factors around 0.5. The current and voltage are out of phase and the current drawn can be twice what is anticipated (Power in Watts = Volts x Amps x power factor). Not a problem if relatively few LEDs are used, but more so when there is a mass migration to replacements. Still energy saving though but whether they will save you money depends upon how long they last.

Member

And thats where we get power factor correction malcolm in inductive loads using capacitors . It also helps in correction for voltage drops even in lighting where there can be equipment failure /low efficiency causing overheating when you would think you were prolonging the life by under running it. You would use capacitance to correct for reactive power to (hopefully ) bring the PF up to what you quote and in doing so reduce power consumption (watts ) . The capacitance value will depend on the reactive power and this is where I keep talking about the Land of Built to a Price -ie cheap electronic design + actual components . This is a major problem for power stations supplying electrical power. I also think in modern times we are talking of active power filters and , of coarse , again, they depend on the quality of the components to reduce short term failure as well as ,in this case be small enough to not cause problems for those buying the products – IE- not too bulky.

Member

Commercial products have power factor correction – as in separately powered LEDs, but for cheapness it rarely happens in domestic LEDs. It is of little consequence unless the load becomes significant.

Member

But, if ,as you said , your whole house was LED lit even at a small wattage that still adds up , and the bigger house then a passive power factor corrector feeding the lot would save money and isnt that what its all about as well as saving the planet. Yes malcolm , you can buy these in the UK for your home. If you remember our “long lost” NI friend had several ex government types in use in his house.

Member

Domestic electricity meters still measure, as far as I know, “real” power. The out-of-phase current is not taken into account. However actual current is important in distribution losses (square of the current times transmission line resistance) and generator sizing. This is why power factor correction is applied to commercial and industrial loads.

One house of LEDs is a small contributor but a whole estate on LEDs might become more important. Ideally all loads should be corrected to as near unity as possible, but this costs money in extra components.

Member

For AC power measurement the PF introduces complexity as watts = volts x amps x PF in that case it is “true/real ” power so it has to be taken into account on a reading , I agree that high quality digital display watt-meters ( household ) can instantaneously measure over one complete cycle of electricity ( one wave ) no matter if waveform distortion is present as in SMPS . Normal watts measurement would only apply to resistive loads , inductive loads, a whole range of household electrical equipment including , even more so the modern large use of SMPS in nearly everything electronic generating waveform distortion and getting back into the ring main circuit and causing problems.

Member

Thanks Malcolm and Duncan for the discussion on domestic lighting but it’s over my head. If we turn on a couple of table lights when we go into the sitting room, and perhaps one or two more upstairs, and then don’t turn them off until we retire for the night, I don’t think that’s going to burn a hole in my pocket nor upset the power generators. I have no reason to suppose that any or our LED’s are going to fail before 7,500 hours on average. Some are only on for an hour or less each day so they should see me out.

Member

Lets hope they don’t see you out John 🙂 I’ve avoided LED replacement bulbs, originally because of their colour, reliability and cost. And I like dimming. At some point I will try them more generally. At the moment I have LED strips under cupboards over a worktop in the kitchen – so far, so good.

Member

Some LEDs are dimmable. It’s generally recommended to use a trailing edge dimmer rather than the leading edge variety that were commonly used with incandescent lighting, though this is not shown on the lamp packaging. I am very pleased with the dimmers I have fitted and they don’t create any radio interference, as some dimmers do.

Dimmable CFLs are not satisfactory, tending to flicker at lower brightness. To dim fluorescent lighting successfully it is necessary to maintain the temperature of the cathodes, which requires something more complex than a standard dimmer.

Member

I have installed under-cabinet LED strips in the kitchen and replaced the halogen lamps on a spotlight track with LED’s and am pleased with the quality of the illumination. I am also pleased that, if the LED’s last a lifetime, I shall not have to fiddle about on the ceiling or under the cabinets trying to replace a failed lamp. The lower operating temperature of the LED’s is also a bonus when standing under the spotlights; although the heat output was marginally useful in the cold weather it was a quite wasteful in the summer months.

Member

Kitchen lights are often left on for long periods and it is not difficult to see that lots of 50W halogen downlighters and spotlights use a fair amount of power. The popular GU10 lamps can be fiddly to fit. (I wonder how such a poor design became standard.) My most successful lamp replacement has been to switch to LED for the cooker hood.

Member

I hhhavvvenn’t sssswitcheddd mmmyyy hheatttinggg oonn yet,,, I”m hholdddiiing out untttill the cccclocks chchchange, bbbut I ccan’t stoppp shivvvering.

Member

🙂 🙂 🙂

Member

Maybe you should change your clocks now, Sophie. If it proves unsatisfactory, there will be a cooling off period.

Member

NIce. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Member

Give in and switch on your heating, Sophie! 🙂

Member

I haven’t switched on my heating yet, because I cant. I currently have no radiators attached to my walls in order to do so. I highly recommend DIY as a means of saving on your energy bills 🙂

Member

When it’s working you can have a housewarming party, Lauren. 🙂

Member

I might have a housewarming party before then, if I can get enough people to fill the house that might be a good way to warm it up…

Member

Having a vivid imagination my mind conjures up some weird means of heating Lauren has in her house , 10 cats in the one room – I,m feeling cold pass me another cat -picture a room filled with furry faces lining the couch .

Member

Not far off Duncan – actually I borrowed my parents’ dog (a huge Setter) as a means of warming my feet at the weekend 🐶

Member

I like the cat on a hot tin radiator shown in the Picture at the top of the Conversation. I had one like that a long time ago who [yes, he was almost human] would sit on top of the floor-standing boiler. His name was Dudley, brother of Eric.

Member

I think that is the photo that inspired Patrick to create a version on an iPad.

Edit: Here is the relevant Convo: conversation.which.co.uk/technology/ipad-tablet-best-art-painting-apps-david-hockney/

Member

We had some discussion about this picture at the time wavechange. Well remembered! I was trying to find it but was looking it up under “slow cookers”.i

Member

According to Wikipedia: “Humans generally start to feel uncomfortable when their skin temperature passes about 38 °C (100 °F), but cats show no discomfort until their skin reaches around 52 °C (126 °F), and can tolerate temperatures of up to 56 °C (133 °F) if they have access to water.” This may explain why cats are fond of warm places.

Member

According to history they originally came from Africa where the Ancient Egyptians tamed them , Africa is a hot country , DNA again .

Member

Ah, but birds have a body temperature (around 40°C), irrespective of whether they live in warm or cold climates. Some smaller ones can lower their body temperature, as mammals do if they hibernate. The high body temperature of birds makes their flight muscles more efficient, giving them a good power to weight ratio.

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
12 October 2016

Active Plumbing and Heating Solution[s] as a search reveals in a well-know search engine reveals two firms using that title. SO basically do not forget to add the S. Also the quoted Trusted Trader it is Ltd unlike the other companies with very similar names.

I have a certain unease that in mentioning one particular trusted trader who has paid his £480 to Which? we are getting into the realms of publicity and how the other 61 plumbers/heating engineers in the area who are also Trusted Traders feel about it.

I am sure they would have been equally keen to give the same advice and be named. Can someone tell us what the policy is here?

Member

Hello Patrick, this particular Trusted Trader contributed to advice for the Trusted Traders website content on getting the most out of your heating.

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
12 October 2016

When I was commissioning works for blocks of flats or recommending tradesmen to flat dwellers there were some cynics who thought that in return for favourable mentions we would be receiving cheap or free services from those tradesmen ourselves. I was always scrupulous to avoid this conflict of interests in my clients interests.*

Honestly I can say that it went on as I know for fact in at least two cases with two different agents. Was it widespread I don’t know. AFAIR there was a major court case concerning the underhand practices and I note there is a nice one brewing with Foxtons.

If you have a managing agent or factor do not abdicate from having an enquiring mind. However also be realistic that if an tradesmen is familiar with your site that may be good reason for him to be employed frequently as his knowledge may save time and result in a better outcome.

* Possibly an area of great interest to subscribers in general is this from last year on the ful Foxtons
landlordlawblog.co.uk/2015/06/18/foxtons-to-have-their-come-uppance-over-fees/
An area where I always thing Which? has been negligent in being militant in abuses … well to be fair I am not sure they have ever covered it.

” To put it in a nutshell, the law states that because agents are in a particularly powerful position, effectively managing their client’s business for them, with the ability to make contracts on their behalf (meaning that they are able to feather their nest without their landlords knowing about it), they have a legal obligation to be extra specially careful to act in ‘good faith’.
The law will (or should) treat an agent who has breached this duty, much more harshly than it will other breaches of contract, as the agent is in a position of trust. Courts and Judges normally take this duty very seriously.”

Similar of the higher standard required of Trustees.

As of 2016 55 landlords are included in the case

Member

I have a feeling the previous three comments belong in a different Conversation but I do not know which one as my quick search did not identify one.

Member

It’s official, women do feel the cold more than men. Why? Check out the following website: home.bt.com – Do women feel the cold more than men?

The science behind the phenomenon of cyclical anomalies in air pressure and sea surface temperatures which can affect global weather patterns can be located @ earthobservatory.nasa.gov – El Nino’s Extended Family – An introduction to the cyclic patterns that determine global weather.

My heating last week was turned down to 15C max as I was under the duvet with a fever and body aches following a flu jab (I think next year I will abstain!) Today it’s on 20C – 2 degrees higher than usual now that I am vertical and mobile (well partly) again. The rads in the lounge are lined with tin foil which definitely helped to reduce the energy bill last year. I would certainly recommend investing in thick warm thermolactic lined curtains even on double glazed windows as a means of insulation and draw them as soon as the light starts to fade at dusk.

Lauren, I do hope you are able to find some means of heating soon. My son bought me a warm fleece slanket with sleeves for Christmas last year and I love it. There are also microwaveable water? bottles and heating pads available at reasonable costs to tide you over if you run out of furry friends to keep you warm 🙂

Member

I would agree about the flue jabs Beryl , they probably come from the US, if they do then i have plenty of “horror stories ” about the ingredients and class action suites against -Big Chem. I have the heating on 21C . Body blood circulation comes into as well as thickness of skin in relation to heat loss in a human body , women (usually ) have finer skin , there again i have always had bad circulation and feel the cold more than others , also the type of food you eat comes into it as regards calorific value and whether the calories are “burned up ” which depends on your DNA , I can eat a lot but never get very fat and always have been like that , others eat less and put on weight much more . You cant beat nature , you can only control it to a certain extent. Yes, my wife , like yourself bought the highly advertised “all over” fleeces very happy with them.

Member

If evolution worked those of us in the cooler climate band would have developed a natural protection from the cold as many animals have. Perhaps wearing clothes for centuries has interfered with the human evolutionary process.

Member

We were a lot hairier way back then ,a short back and sides would in those days extent right down your back and front. But your right its down to evolution John . And thats where we are heading Russia has just announced it is recalling all its officials from overseas on pain of losing promotion.

Member

There’s also the problem associated with auto immune hypothyroidism which is more common in women tha men Duncan, which I have and I seem to remember you saying your wife has also. The thyroid controls the body temperature as well as the metabolism which causes sufferers to feel the cold.

Member

Beryl, sorry to hear you have that , if you said it before I forgot . Your right my wife is on thyroid pills and so was my mother who collapsed in a “daze ” and was in-coherent ,took two hospitals including a neuro surgical one to diagnose the cause , so its possible I have a mild version of it as well. I can sympathise with you .

Member

It’s a lot to do with fats:

“According to Prof Paul Thornalley, of Warwick Medical School, variation in average metabolic rate and body heat production between men and women “may explain why there is a difference in environmental temperature required for comfort between males and females”.

The body’s metabolism is responsible for growth and the production of energy, including heat. Resting metabolic rate is the minimal rate of energy expenditure per unit of time while we are at rest, calculated through a standard set of equations. On average women have a lower metabolic rate than men.

“A great determinant of resting metabolic rates is the fat free body mass in people’s bodies,” says Thornalley – accounting for around 60% of the individual difference in men and women’s resting metabolic rates. Because men have more fat free body mass – all the components of the body like skin, bones and muscle, but excluding fat – than women, they have a higher resting metabolic rate.

Major body organs, including the liver, brain, skeletal muscle, kidneys and heart are where most energy is consumed.

Non-movement production of heat – where energy is expended outside of active exercise – occurs in the body in “brown fat”, according to Thornalley. Humans have two types of fat – white fat, a store of excess calories, and brown fat, which generates heat.

Brown fat produces heat involuntarily through a process called thermogenesis. It is regulated by the thyroid hormone and the nervous system, and may account for further variation of resting metabolic rate, particularly in men. (Babies have higher levels of brown fat than adults to stave off hypothermia while young.)

This higher proportion of body mass which is able to produce heat involuntarily means that on average men don’t feel the cold as easily as women – and, in sultry summer months, means they have a lower tolerance for hot weather because their bodies produce more heat at a resting metabolic rate, getting warmer quicker.

But, as Thornalley is quick to point out, not every person is the same. Some men have lower metabolic rates than some women, and so in some cases it may be Dave on reception reaching for a jumper more readily than Ellie in the boardroom.

Some people also have suggested less scientific reasons for the general gender divide over the air-con – while some women wear light dresses in August, some men are stuck in stuffy suits.

Member

Interesting and very concise and informative Ian,well put !

Member

In future it may be possible to increase heat generation in individuals that feel cold. Breakdown of brown fat to create heat is controlled by thermogenin (see Wikipedia), an uncoupling protein in the mitochondria of brown fat tissue. A side effect would be loss of weight but that might be welcome in many cases.

Member

IIRC that phenomenon was first discovered in WWII, where women assembling certain munitions started to feel excessively warm and, over time, lost weight. Can you confirm that, Wave?

Member

That’s right Ian. They were using 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP), a chemical that causes uncoupling of energy production in the mitochondria of fat cells. When used as a weight loss drug, it does not take much to cause fatal overheating (hyperthermia).

Member

Which?Convo never ceases to amaze 🙂 Next time I visit my 6′ 3″ son and he sits there in his T shirt with his thermostat set at 17 degrees and I am shivering in a couple of sweaters, I can at last explain to him it’s all down to his BAT!

What never ceases to amaze is how individual body parts seem to naturally have a back up coping system, as does the mind. For example, I remember when cholesterol levels first became measurable by researchers and those with total borderline high readings were put on statins until they discovered HDL/LDL ratios.

It’s also interesting to learn how cooling the body can increase the body’s brown fat levels and increase its mitochondria, assisting its ability to reduce white fat levels and heating body temperature at the same time, which begs the question, can our centrally heated homes play a part in reducing the production of brown fat, thereby creating a downward spiral of further reducing body temperature and can ingesting spicy foods, or any other food, trigger an increase in Brown Adipose Tissue’s metabolic rate?

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Like many couples, my mother and father preferred different temperatures. When he retired, they were both in the same environment and I wondered if things might change, but he continued to tweak the thermostat down and she turned it up. I take after my father in this respect, though as I have become older and more sedentary I prefer warmer conditions. I must dig out my wooly jumpers and find out if the anti-moth precautions have worked.

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My wife and I are a bit like that. She sits in the lounge with the wood burning stove and I read Which? in the study. We periodically communicate by email.

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Could try Skype and have a face to face Convo Bieldman.

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Here’s an interesting thought: ask yourself why, in winter, we’re more than 3,000,000 miles closer to the Sun than in summer. It’s all down to Axial tilt (obliquity of the ecliptic), because although we’re a lot closer to the sun in mid-winter, we’re tilted away so that we actually see and feel the sun a lot less.

Axial tilt, the Milankovitch cycles, precession and a host of other Astronomical issues are yet more reasons why weather prediction is such a tricky game, with ‘long term’ forecasts being the standard fare of snake-oil salesmen. But there’s hope: the moon is making a run for it while the sun is becoming hotter. We don’t have a lot of time left as the sun will become a Nova and the departing moon will set up resonances which could create a lot of damage here. So we need to get ready, as we only have between 3 and 5 billion years left… ( Source: Murdock News Corporation

(The last bit was a joke…)

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When there was a full eclipse of the sun in summer about 10(?) years ago, I was quite surprised at how quickly the temperature dropped, how cold it got and how long the air took to warm up again even though there was a clear sky.

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Alfa- now think of a permanent haze high up in the sky that lasts for centuries causing an instant change in world temperature . Coming soon to this planet ( if the insanity continues).

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I have looked down over Los Angeles and seen it clad in a yellow smog.

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Ian, whatever was responsible for knocking our planet off its axial probably made life as we know it possible, creating a life sustaining balance between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. I predict that humans will destroy each other long before the sun becomes a supanova. Could solve the energy crisis in the meantime though assuming of course the Suns power could be utilised to operate air-con devices.

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Beryl- could destroy one another , spot on , you,ve “looked out the window ” the clock is only a minute or two from “N” day.

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So why do we worry about the State Pension?

We can, unfortunately, never go backwards on developments; destructive weapons in particular. Maybe they are simply a device to keep the population under control?

What I want to see is the “military” operating as a police force rather than aggressive conquerors. Fist fights never really solve problems, simply cause festering grudges. Military people should keep out of politics and act to mediate, not destroy. I do not believe a deterrent has ever worked to prevent conflict, and the present one will not either. It just soaks up money that should be spent on preserving life, not trying in vain to insure against an enemy.

But for now let’s keep our homes pleasantly warm, as far as we can afford it, until the end comes. Maybe if the prediction is sooner not later we could use our savings and turn up the thermostat a bit. 🙁

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It only takes one arrogant miscreant out of an estimated world population of 7.5 billion to play his final Trump Card Duncan……… but lets enjoy the present, after all that’s all we ever have.

I have been sitting here for the last couple of hours with my thermostat set at 15C in the faint hope my BAT levels will have increased! I am well wrapped up but I am not at all cold! If Sophie can hold out until the clocks go back before switching her heating on, her BAT levels could have increased to a level whereby when she does finally switch on she could feel quite comfortably warm at 17C
🙂

How’s it going Sophie?

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I can guarantee that some energetic vacuum cleaning will warm you up, Beryl. Even light physical activity such as preparing a meal makes a difference when compared with sitting reading or watching TV.

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You are so right Wavechange, a bowl of hot soup is about to be devoured and the computer switched off for the time being. The vacuum cleaner will have to stay silent for another day or two though until normal energy levels return, drained by last weeks viral infection.

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Get well soon. Recovering from an infection is a good excuse for early nights and late mornings.

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Many thanks Wavechange 🙂