How Balancing Radiators Can Save You Money

Few people even think about their radiators until they stop emitting the luxurious
heat we expect them to generate at a quick flick of the thermostat.

Then it's out with the radiator key as we try to bleed them into submission or frantic
calls to the heating gurus to try and figure out the cause of the problem.
Often these issues are quickly resolved, and we go back to ignoring our radiators if
they continue to generate the warmth needed to keep our homes cozy.

Of course, this is a perfectly normal response; after all, that's the life of a radiator in a
nutshell, but did you know that radiator balancing is about more than ensuring
things are ticking along as they should?

While even-heat distribution is vital for generating enough warmth to heat the home,
correct radiator balancing is also crucial for boiler efficiency and controlling rampant
heating bills!

Radiator Balancing Explained

Radiator balancing is a process used to ensure that hot water from the boiler reaches
all the radiators in the home.
When the heating system (boiler and radiators) is not balanced, it causes some
radiators to remain cool instead of heating up to the required temperature.

Unfortunately, most of us fall into the trap of thinking that turning up the trusty
thermostat will be the solution to this pesky issue.
However, this costs more in terms of heating, causing parts of our home to be overly
warm and leaving others like an arctic wasteland which, bottom line, wastes energy.

How Radiator Balancing Impacts Heating Efficiency

Correct balancing directly impacts the operating efficiency of a condensing boiler.
Condensing boilers are 90% energy efficient because they recycle waste heat before it
leaves the boiler.

This efficiency relies entirely on the flow temperature (hot water leaving the boiler)
and a low return temperature (temperature of the water returning to the boiler after
it has gone around the radiators).

Correctly balanced radiators combined with a low temperature setting of 60 C ensure
the return temperature is sufficiently lower (20 C lower) than the flow temperature
and thus achieves the best boiler efficiency.
The secret to this formula is the lower the return temperature, the more efficient the
boiler.

In contrast, incorrectly balanced radiators mean the return temperature is only 10 C
lower than the flow temperature, which greatly impacts boiler efficiency and,
subsequently, your energy bill.

Signs Your Heating System Is Out of Balance

One of the primary indicators of an imbalanced heating system is when the radiator
closest to the boiler emits a lot of heat.
At the same time, those furthest away remain lukewarm or tepid. This is caused
because the nearest radiator receives most of the flow (hot water) while those further
away are not getting enough, causing an imbalance in the system.

A more extreme imbalance occurs when the radiator closest to the boiler takes all the
hot water and returns it to the boiler directly. In this case, the hot water is prevented
from passing to the other radiators in the heating system, so they never warm up.

Another way to check if your system is imbalanced is to measure the flow and return
temperatures. For this, you will need to purchase low-cost temperature sensors to clip
onto the flow and return pipes; this will show if there is a balance in temperature
(return flow is 20 C lower than flow temperature).

However, if a DIY approach is not for you, you can request the services of an installer
who can easily check the flow and return temperatures with their temperature
clamps.

Finally, if you put the central heating on and the boiler cycles on and off a lot (kicks
in and out continuously), this could indicate an imbalance in the heating system.

Causes Of an Unbalanced System

One would assume that when your heating system was installed, the radiators were
balanced as part of the process, but in some cases, this crucial step can be missed.
As a result, your system may have been unbalanced since it was first installed!

Furthermore, a system can lose its balance if the radiators are removed for
replacement (upgraded radiator) or redecorating.
When the radiator is refitted, it can affect the heating system's balance creating a
pressure difference between the TRVs (Thermostatic Radiator Valves) as they open
and close during the day. This can impact the flow rate and negatively affect the
radiator's efficiency.

Benefits Of Radiator Balancing

Reducing energy bills is the most significant benefit of ensuring your radiators are
balanced.
The rampant increase in the cost of living coupled with supersonic sky-rocketing
energy bills has meant many homeowners are searching for ways to reduce their
bills.

One way to do this is to ensure your heating system is balanced and running
efficiently.
In fact, a balanced and efficient heating system can reduce energy waste by as much
as 8.8%, which is quite a chunky saving when you consider the current economic
climate!

How To Balance Your Heating System

Balancing radiators can be a time-consuming nightmare for engineers and DIY
enthusiasts alike. However, product innovations like auto balancing TRVs can eliminate the process's
headache entirely.

These are a fast and easy solution for reducing energy bills and keeping your home
comfortably heated. In addition, they fit onto standard pipework eliminating the
need for costly renovations.

They also work the same way as standard TRVs but with one difference. They
automatically adjust the radiators according to pressure change while maintaining
the correct flow to each radiator.

As a result, the system remains constantly balanced, and return temperatures are
kept low, which aids the boiler condensing process, thus enhancing your boiler
efficiency, and lowering your energy bills.

A Balanced Approach

A balanced heating system is an efficient heating system. However, before you whip
out your tools and start tinkering, remember that saving a few pennies and balancing
your radiators can prove more costly, especially if the process is not completed
correctly.

Hiring the services of a heating engineer ensures your radiators are accurately
balanced and reduces your energy bills.
But get the process wrong, and you could be left struggling with eye-watering results
– increased energy usage!

Finally, balancing your radiators isn't only about getting them toasty-hot; it is also
about ensuring that the difference between flow and return temperatures is close to
20C for optimum results, which without a specialist can prove tricky, to say the least!