/ Home & Energy

Have you been ‘fooled’ into turning the heating on?

Dog using a radiator

I won’t do it. You can’t make me, cold weather! I won’t turn the heating on; not until the end of October. Yet, energy usage apparently surged by 65% last weekend as householders reached for the radiators.

We’re suffering from a so-called ‘faux winter’, with Npower speculating that we’re switching on the central heating because the hot summer has made it feel colder than it really is.

Despite the sudden drop in temperature, this September is apparently only 0.25˚C colder than the same time last year. Yet, according to Npower, gas usage is 15% higher. Npower’s Simon Stacey comments:

‘We’ve had such an amazing summer, but because it’s been so good with hot, sunny weather for months, now that it’s dropped off a little, people think it’s colder than it really is.’

When will you reach for the thermostat?

The ‘big switch on’ is predicted to start at the end of October, and I’m going to try my best to hold out. On Twitter, Celine is going to wait until at least the start of next month:

I’m probably lucky to live in a relatively new well-insulated flat. And I’d be doubly lucky if my neighbours decided to turn the heating on – a tactic used by a Very Happy Bunny:

#HeatingOn or #HeatingOff?

In our quick straw poll on Twitter, 24 of our followers voted for #heatingoff, with 13 voting #heatingon. That’s 65% refraining from cranking up the thermostat, including Ruth:

However, Aibo has had to make the tough decision to turn up the heat:

So are you holding out or turning on? If you haven’t switched the heating on yet, when do you plan to reach for the thermostat?

Have you turned your heating on yet?

Yes, I've turned my #heatingon (71%, 875 Votes)

No, I'm keeping my #heatingoff (29%, 364 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,239

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I never turn it off. That’s the whole point of thermostats. If it warms up again it won’t kick in. If it wants to come on in a cold morning in June it does, and in any case it is said you are supposed to run it once in a while to move the sludge about a bit.


Nick, exactly. If you want to tolerate cool evenings for longer just turn your thermostat down and put on a wooly. Or use a fan heater. Otherwise, let your heating do its job. It was different when I had a solid fuel boiler – judging when to light it up again. But no problem with gas.

19 September 2013

I would prefer to light my solid fuel boiler if I was fortunate to be lucky enough
to have one at least your house would be comfortable and warm ALL DAY.
at not to much cost.
Gas is not a luxury anymore but a necessity to many families but with families to nervous to
use it because off the cost and possible debt which no one wants.
It is a sorry sad state off affairs.


Squirrel, it was dusty, needed filling each night, occasionally went out, and was expensive to run. I appreciate all heating is a substantial part of many peoples budget; at least gas is efficient, and with thermostatic valves on radiators you can minimise the amount of heating. When I was young, we had a coal fire in the living room and a hot water bottle in bed – frost on the insides of the windows in the morning.


I likewise don’t understand all this talk about “turning the heating on”. With most modern heating controls, you simply set the temperature you want and the heating will come on when necessary to achieve that temperature. If you want to suffer indoor temperatures of 16°C, then set your thermostat to 16°C. If you want to have a comfortable temperature of 20°C to 23°C, then set your thermostat to that temperature. Manually overriding the automatic operation of heating systems seems rather pointless. For example, it’s equally daft for the heating to come on when it reaches 20°C in February or for it to remain off when it plummets to 12°C in June. Whether or not the heating comes on should be temperature-dependent and not date-dependent. The latter defies common sense.


I don’t think it is as simple as that. Our thermostat has a low and high setting, eg, low at night, high daytime, or just high breakfast and evening. If it is hot weather I will turn it off completely as I don’t want to waste fuel heating up rooms in the morning when by 9am the sun will have warmed them anyway. At other times, I will set the low temperature all day to stop the night temperature dropping too much. A really intelligent control would predict outside temperature and heat/not heat accordingly but I don’t have such a control, so I do it manually. To set 21 degrees 24/7 defies common sense.


Mike. 21 C makes sense if your thermostat is located in your living room, and your other rooms have thermostatic radiator valves to give some control over temperature in bedrooms, bathroom and so on. With you programmer to time when your heating operates you’ve fairly crude but reasonable control over your heating. Add a programmable thermostat and you can look after night temperatures more effectively.


@Malcolm: I have the thermostatic radiator valves and timer with two temperature settings. However, to get to 21 C in winter when I get up, the heat would need to come on very early and build up. It is wasteful to have the downstairs at 21 C at night with the bedrooms only needing 15 C, say. Now, if I use the timer the same in winter and summer, the heat will come on downstairs at 6am, say, to hit 21 C at 7am, but that is unnecessary in summer as by 7am the sun will have done that for me.

Sophisticated systems monitor outside temperature and adjust the warming cycle accordingly, so if the temperature is high and rising outside then the heat inside will come on later or not at all.

Anyway, I agree that putting the heating on/off is irrelevant these days. It was barely off at all last year (2012) and this year as always it will be on when it’s cold and off when it’s warm.