How to use boiler thermostats and controls


Heating controls and thermostats not only make it easier to utilise your boiler, they can also reduce your energy bills dramatically. There is however a lot of confusion surrounding how to use central heating controls, likely due to the number of different types and models available. From boiler timers to programmable thermostats, we’ve outlined the most common heating controls and what they can do for you.

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Built in boiler controls

built in boiler controls

Your boiler itself will likely have simple controls including an on/ off switch. This will either turn both the heating and hot water off or one or the other. Being able to control them separately can be useful if you want to turn your heating off in the summer months but still require hot water. You may also have temperature controls on your boiler. These will allow you to alter the temperature the boiler heats its water to so it is a good idea to adjust this accordingly for both winter and summer.

Boiler Timers

Manual boiler timer control

This mechanical type of timer allows you to control the times when your boiler is on or off. They will often be round, with the hours of the day (broken down into slots, usually 15 minutes) and tabs you can slide in and out of position. This kind of control should be adequate if you need your boiler to turn on and off at the same times each day.

Room thermostats with a dial

Boiler thermostat and control

Room thermostats will turn on the heating until the room reaches the temperature you have set. Once the desired temperature is reached they will turn the heating off. Thermostats need to be able to take the temperature of the air around them, so it’s important to keep them clear of curtains and anything else that might block the flow of air.

There is a common misconception that turning your thermostat up will heat your home quicker. This won’t actually work as your home will take the same amount of time to reach your required temperature, but will then continue to heat until it reaches the higher temperature you had raised it to.

Digital programmable room thermostats

digital thermostat

A programmable thermostat allows you to control when your heating switches on and off as well as what temperature it should reach via a digital interface. Many models will let you have programmes created for weekdays and weekends separately to allow for different schedules. Some of the more advanced options even allow you to enter 7 days of heating schedules.

Intelligent smart thermostats

smart thermostat

The new generation of smart thermostats including brands like Nest, Hive and Honeywell allow you the highest level of control over your home heating system. Whilst features vary between models, smart thermostats generally let you program and control your heating online or using a smartphone. Other features can include geolocation, weather responsiveness and even the ability to learn and adapt to your routines. You can find a full guide to smart thermostats here.

Thermostatic radiator valves

Radiator thermostat control

Whilst thermostatic radiator valves don’t directly control the boiler, they can help to keep your rooms at a desired temperature. They do this by controlling the flow of warm water through the radiator, reducing it when the temperature reaches a certain level. They detect this temperature using the air around them, so it is best not to use covers on radiators which have thermostatic valves.


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