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Frequently Asked Questions

Central Heating FAQs

What's a condensing boiler and how does it work?
Condensing boilers are highly efficient. They use less fuel and have lower running costs than standard boilers. Higher efficiency levels are made possible by extracting heat contained in the combustion gases, which would otherwise have been lost to the atmosphere.
This is because both oil and gas contain hydrogen locked within their chemical structure. When oil or gas is burned, the hydrogen links with oxygen in the air to form H 2 O (water). This water (as vapour) can be seen from the exhausts of cars on cold days.
The vapour (or steam) contains about 8% of the total fuel's energy and capturing it makes energy efficiency sense. This is exactly what condensing boilers do. They “condense” the vapour and capture the energy contained there, making modern boilers so much more efficient.
What difference do heating controls make? What are the best types?
Controls have come a long way in the past ten years and they afford an excellent way to improve comfort conditions and save energy.
Controls have two primary functions:
Deciding when the heating system comes on and goes off. It is a good idea (and a requirement for new installations) to divide the house into zones (eg living areas and bedrooms) and to have separate time clock control over each zone.
Maintaining a pleasant comfort level in the rooms. The most cost effective way of achieving this is by fitting room / cylinder thermostats in conjunction with thermostatic valves to the radiators. These thermostats automatically regulate the heat generated in the home and in the hot water cylinder -
Are there any grants for home energy efficiency?
The Home Energy Saving (HES) scheme provides grants to homeowners who are interested in improving the energy efficiency of their home in order to reduce energy use and costs as well as greenhouse gas emissions. The scheme is open to all owners of existing houses built before 2006. For more information or to make an application please visit the SEAI website. http://www.seai.ie/Grants/Home_Energy_Saving_Scheme/
Where should radiators be located?
Windows and outside walls will be the coldest surfaces in the house. Cold windows cause draughts and uncomfortable conditions for the occupants. To maintain air temperatures and achieve comfortable conditions, radiators should be located under windows to raise the glass temperature and to eliminate cold downdraughts.
What are Thermostatic Radiator Valves or TRVs?
A Thermostatic Radiator Valve (TRV) may be installed on a radiator instead of the hand wheel valve. The TRV contains a bellows which will close the valve on a rise in air temperature in the room, stopping the flow of heating water to the radiator.
The TRV has a number of settings, which the householder may use to set the desired air temperature for each room. In locations where a high level of heating is required, the TRV will be set at the top setting. Conversely, if only background heating is desired then the valve will be fixed at its lowest setting. If installing a new heating system the incremental cost of TRVs is very small indeed.
What do I do if my boiler is more than 15 years old?
Typically, the “as new” efficiency of an oil or gas boiler over 15 years old would have been less than 80%. It's present efficiency today, due to wear and tear is unlikely to be greater than 70%.
The current range of boilers available today will have efficiencies greater than 90%. This represents an operational improvement in efficiency of up to 20 percentage points
Increasing the operational efficiency of your boiler by this amount represents an actual fuel saving of more than 25%. In other words, by replacing an older, low efficiency boiler with a new, high efficiency boiler, you can cut your fuel bills by a quarter.
So, replacing old boilers makes good sense for two reasons:
Significant fuel cost savings, which can only increase as energy prices escalate.
Improved reliability and safety.
If you have a boiler older than 15 years then it is most likely during the next few years that you will have to replace it on reliability grounds in any case. Change it now and start saving immediately!
By planning the change (rather than it being forced on you in the depth of winter when it breaks down) you can get competitive quotations and reduce the cost.
How often should I service my boiler?
Most boiler manufacturers recommend an annual service, primarily on the grounds of safety but also to ensure reliability. On efficiency grounds it is well worth servicing oil boilers annually because the soot build-up is such as to significantly increase oil consumption. With gas, while soot build-up is not so much a problem because of its clean burning characteristics, an annual service would still be recommended.