/ 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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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.


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.


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.


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.


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 .


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.

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


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