/ 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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I do not understand why it is recommended to put a thermostat in the hall – hardly an important place to maintain a constant temperature.

In my previous home – a bungalow – I upgraded the central heating controls and decided to move the thermostat to the room I used most. That already had a thermostatic valve, but that did not matter because I left it fully open. I was very pleased with the result.

I have lived in bungalows for most of my life, so I’m trying to get to grips with how best to heat mine before upgrading the heating controls. As Beryl says, heat goes upstairs. At present, the thermostat is in the hall, so the hall radiator has to remain on, even when the weather is mild and I am only interested in making the lounge a little warmer.

Is there anyone else who has chosen to put their thermostat anywhere other than the hall?


Our house is inverted, so the hall thermostat is situated in what in most folks’ houses would be the top landing. However, since we’ve had the heat pumps installed they suffice for keeping the upstairs cosy, with the full heating only being needed to occasionally ensure the downstairs doesn’t freeze solid.


I think it is trial and error wavechange, depending on the thermostat and layout of the property. We tried our Hive thermostat all over the place before settling on the front hall. If the thermostat responds quickly, then it is probably ok in a living room, but if it responds slowly, put it where the temperature fluctuates the quickest and adjust the TRVs accordingly.


I cannot give a definitive answer on why central heating system designers avoid having a TRV in the same space as the controlling thermostat but it seems that they always do, if the experience of the last five houses I have lived in is anything to go by, three of which had completely new installations. I can only think it is because the hall is a neutral zone not affected by other heat sources [like kitchens, or living room fires, or the location of the boiler]. By not having a TRV fitted the hall radiator becomes a standard permanent heat source against which the room thermostat can regulate the flow of heat throughout the house, the TRV’s being used to manage the heat level in each room. It might be that the temperature set on the room thermostat needs to be different to the desired temperature in the main living room in order to achieve a balanced heat level available throughout the house – allowing for such factors as heat rising up staircases [or not in the case of a bungalow].

The major influence on comfortable temperatures in my view is the correct specification of radiator sizes and locations for the volume and purpose of each room. Bedrooms generally were not heated to the same level as living rooms but things have changed over recent decades and more use is made of bedrooms during the daytime and in the evenings than previously; this is where the TRV’s can be very useful as they can be set to achieve the ideal temperature for the kind of use required and, despite some people’s view that once set they should never be altered, they are designed for easy adjustment to allow more or less heat as and when required [see the picture at the top of this Conversation – even a cat can do it].

The time controller also comes into play in enabling residents to achieve the most suitable conditions for their lifestyle. As Alfa says, getting it right involves a fair bit of trial and error and the vagaries of the weather do not help. We find our sitting room television gives off enough heat on some days to enable the TRV’s to close the radiators down early but then reopen once we have stopped viewing. Obviously, the more sensitive the controls the easier it is to get the balance right.


Your point about not having the thermostat in a room with other heating sources is absolutely right, John. If it’s in a room with a solid fuel or gas fire, these will cause the heating elsewhere to shut down. Put it in the kitchen and the dining room will be cold by the time the roast is cooked.

Ideally I would like to have zoned heating, but this is best done when the system is installed. My old bungalow was easy because all the plumbing was in the roof space and it was not even necessary to fully drain the system to add motorised valves. I think I might go for a single wireless thermostat, which some people seem to be happy with. That will let me experiment with where to put it. If thermostatic valves are fitted, it’s important to fully open the one in the room with the thermostat.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that thermostatic radiator valves (or thermostats) should not be altered, though are happy with this arrangement. I often turn mine up when sitting down in the evening.


Thanks for the encouragement to experiment, Alfa. In my younger days I would not think twice about doing this. I’m wondering what Ian means about his inverted house but mine seems boringly conventional.


Our house is built into a mountain, so from the front it appears to be a bungalow, and it’s only when you descend the steep and lengthy driveway you find that it’s actually a 2 storey building. You enter on the top floor, which is where we live during the day, and that appears to be on the level. But to reach the back door you have to go down a flight of stairs, and the bedrooms, bathrooms and study are all located down there. Several rooms are actually underground, viewed from the front.


John I mentioned earlier that the hall radiator ,where my themostat is has no valve,- BG insisted on it as it is used as a test radiator to check the working function of the boiler every so often . This also solves the problem that if you turn the whole system off at the mains not only ,in a combo boiler , you lose your hot water there is a good chance the water pump will jam up , and yes ,working as a hospital engineer I had to replace very large industrial water pumps attached to steam fed very large boilers under wards . Our own water pump has been replace twice due to it jamming up.