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Last updated: 1st August, 2023


How many hours should heating be on in the UK?

How many hours should heating be on in the UK?

Key takeaways

  • Factors such as energy usage, indoor temperatures, and regional preferences impact heating decisions within the UK.
  • Striking the right balance in heating duration is crucial for energy savings and environmental benefits.
  • Considerations like type of heating system and individual household needs play a role in determining optimal heating time.

Summary sentence for the blog: Learn the optimal duration for heating usage in the UK with this comprehensive guide. Find out how many hours your heating should be on, considering energy efficiency, indoor temperatures, and regional preferences, to save on costs and reduce environmental impact.

When it comes to keeping homes warm and cosy during the colder months, UK residents often wonder how many hours a day they should have their heating on. Understanding how long to keep the heating on for optimal comfort, energy efficiency, and cost savings is essential. 

This article serves as an ultimate guide on determining the suitable duration of heating use in UK homes, considering factors such as energy usage, indoor temperatures and regional preferences.

Efficient heating is not a one-size-fits-all solution, as several factors affect energy consumption and the ideal heating duration. These factors can range from the type of heating system in use to the household's specific needs and habits. 

Getting the balance right can lead to considerable energy savings and positively impact individual budgets and the environment.

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Understanding Energy in UK Homes

Energy efficiency in UK homes has improved significantly over the years, with 40% of homes in England rated at Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) B and C or better and 84% of new builds belonging to the top energy efficiency bands A or B.

Although the country has a consistent track record in making strides towards better energy use, understanding the various factors affecting heating and energy consumption can help homeowners optimise their energy bills.

An important aspect of energy use in UK homes is heating. Due to various factors such as insulation, the size of the home, and individual lifestyle preferences, the average heating durations vary between homes.

While some data reveals that heating is typically on for an average of 5 hours and 15 minutes during winter days, other sources suggest 8-10 hours per day as a general guideline. Nonetheless, several elements influence the appropriate heating duration for different households.


Insulation plays a crucial role in reducing heat loss and maintaining optimal indoor temperature. Well-insulated homes may require heating for only 6-8 hours a day, while larger homes or those with poor insulation may need heating for 10-12 hours.

Implementing energy-saving measures such as proper insulation, draught-proofing, and double-glazing windows can significantly reduce energy costs.

Energy consumption in UK households also varies depending on the type of heating system. Central heating systems, for example, may differ in terms of efficiency and cost.

Homeowners may opt for an energy-efficient heating system, resulting in a lower energy bill. In addition, regular maintenance of the heating systems can prevent energy loss, improving the overall effectiveness of the system.

Optimising energy use in UK homes can greatly reduce energy bills while ensuring comfortable living conditions for its occupants.

By evaluating and addressing factors like insulation, heating system efficiency, and individual lifestyle, homeowners can aim for more sustainable energy consumption and better manage their energy costs.

Boost Boiler Efficiency and Control

Investing time in understanding and improving your boiler's efficiency can greatly impact your heating bills and overall comfort in your home. Here are some key strategies for boosting boiler efficiency and taking control over your heating system:

Proper insulation: Ensuring your home is well insulated is essential in preventing heat loss and reducing the amount of time your heating system needs to be on. This includes loft and wall insulation, as well as draught-proofing doors and windows.

Regular services and maintenance: Scheduling an annual boiler service ensures that your heating system is functioning at its highest efficiency. A professional engineer can spot potential issues and address them before they escalate, prolonging the life of your boiler.

Upgrade to a modern boiler: If your boiler is older and has a lower efficiency rating, upgrading to a modern, ErP A-rated boiler with a minimum of 92% efficiency will significantly improve your heating control and reduce energy wastage.

Install thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs): TRVs allow you to control the temperature of individual rooms, ensuring only the required heat is provided. This can help reduce energy consumption and maintain a comfortable environment.


Optimise heating schedules: Utilising smart thermostats or programmable timers allows you to customise your heating schedule. By matching your heating system's operation with your daily routine, you can avoid wasting energy while keeping your home comfortably warm.

Consider alternative heating methods: Depending on your home and personal preferences, you may want to explore alternative heating options such as heat pumps, solar thermal systems or biomass boilers. These can provide more efficient and environmentally friendly solutions to traditional gas or oil boilers.

By following these steps, you'll have a more efficient heating system that's tailored to your needs and preferences. This will not only save you money on energy bills but also contribute to a more sustainable environment. Regularly reviewing these practices ensures your boiler operates at peak efficiency, further enhancing the comfort of your home.

Ideal Indoor Temperature and Health Considerations

Maintaining the right indoor temperature is essential for ensuring good health and comfort. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises the impact of indoor temperatures on health conditions. 

It is important to understand that the range of suitable temperatures might vary depending on the specific needs and preferences of individuals, but some general guidelines can be followed.

According to various sources, the ideal indoor temperature should be within the range of 20 to 26°C, with an average humidity of approximately 50 percent. 

These conditions can help to prevent a variety of health issues, including hypothermia, respiratory diseases, strokes, and heart attacks. It is important to monitor these factors, especially for those who are more vulnerable, such as the elderly or those with existing health conditions.

Age UK, a reputable charity that focuses on the needs of older people, emphasises the importance of ensuring a comfortable indoor environment for this demographic. 

Maintaining an appropriate temperature can help reduce the risk of health problems associated with exposure to excessive cold or heat, such as respiratory infections and cardiovascular issues. Moreover, proper temperature management can also contribute to an overall sense of wellbeing and improved quality of life for the elderly.

To achieve the recommended indoor temperature range, it is vital to assess and adapt your heating system accordingly. 

This might involve adjusting the timing and duration of heating, as well as investing in insulation and energy efficiency measures. In addition to making your home more comfortable, these changes can also result in significant energy savings, reducing both your bills and environmental impact.

In summary, maintaining an appropriate indoor temperature is essential for promoting good health and preventing various health conditions. 

Adhering to the guidelines provided by WHO and other organisations, such as Age UK, can help to ensure a comfortable and safe environment for all occupants. Don't forget to consider the specific needs of vulnerable individuals and make any necessary adjustments to accommodate them.

Efficient Thermostat Settings

When it comes to managing your home's heating system in the UK, finding the right thermostat settings is essential for both comfort and energy efficiency. 

During the winter season, the Energy Saving Trust recommends setting your thermostat between 18 to 21 degrees Celsius. This range ensures a comfortable environment for most individuals while conserving energy. 

Additionally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that 18 degrees Celsius is the ideal temperature for healthy and well-dressed people, as well as for sleeping.

It is worth noting that certain factors, such as personal preferences, health conditions, or the age of the occupants, might require you to set your thermostat above 21 degrees Celsius in winter. 

To maintain a comfortable atmosphere without sacrificing energy efficiency, consider using modern heating controls that combine timers and thermostats. This approach allows you to set different temperatures for various times of the day.

During the summer months, you can generally opt for a lower thermostat setting due to the warmer outside temperatures. 

To ensure you're using your heating system efficiently, be mindful of the insulation quality in your home, which can significantly impact the thermostat settings required to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

To summarise, understanding your household's specific needs and efficiently utilising your thermostat settings can significantly contribute to energy conservation and cost savings. Be sure to strike a balance between comfort and energy efficiency when adjusting your thermostat, taking into consideration the seasonal changes in the UK.

Optimising Heating for Your Space

Efficient heating in the UK depends on various factors, from the age of your home and windows to the insulation quality. In this section, we will discuss how to optimise heating for your space, addressing the crucial aspects that will ensure a comfortable and energy-efficient environment.

Age and the construction of your house play a significant role in heating efficiency. Older homes may retain heat less effectively, requiring additional heating to maintain a comfortable temperature. 

Upgrading walls with cavity or solid insulation and installing double-glazed windows can substantially improve heat retention in your home, reducing heating hours and energy costs.

Windows are a potential source of drafts and heat loss. Ensuring they have good seals and proper insulation is crucial to maintain a consistent indoor temperature. Investing in double or triple-glazed windows can reduce the amount of heat that escapes and lower your heating costs.

Walls, like windows, can also contribute to heat loss if not adequately insulated. Solid and cavity wall insulation can prevent drafts, improve heat retention, and create a cosier environment. Consider insulating external walls in older properties, as it can greatly enhance your home's energy efficiency.

A well-insulated home is not only efficient in retaining heat but also healthier for its inhabitants. Proper insulation can reduce dampness, mould growth, and potential health risks, especially vital for the elderly or those with respiratory issues.

Optimising your hot water system can make a significant impact on your energy usage. Installing a modern, energy-efficient boiler with temperature controls and time schedules, in combination with good insulation around pipes and tanks, will ensure hot water availability and lessen the energy consumption.

Lastly, investing in modern heating systems, such as smart thermostats and energy-efficient radiators, will allow you to control the temperature effectively, ensuring that your space remains warm without overusing your heating. 

By understanding your specific needs and optimising your heating setup accordingly, you will create a comfortable, energy-efficient home in the UK.

Lifestyle Factors Affecting Heating Choices

In the UK, several lifestyle factors play a role in determining when and for how long to turn on the heating. People's daily routines, presence at home, and personal preferences significantly influence their heating choices.

One determining factor is whether people are working from home or away during the day. Those who work from home likely require heating for longer periods, as they need to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the day. 

This contrasts with individuals who spend most of their day away from home, as they may only need the heating on for shorter periods, typically in the mornings and evenings.

Holiday time has a significant impact on heating decisions, too. During breaks from work or school, individuals often stay at home for longer periods, which may lead to increased heating usage. Alternatively, if residents plan a holiday getaway, they might opt to reduce the heating while they're away, saving on energy costs and consumption.

Personal comfort levels also play a crucial role in heating choices. Some individuals naturally prefer cooler environments and might wear extra layers indoors, thus reducing the need to turn up the heat. 

Conversely, others may prefer warmer surroundings, increasing their reliance on heating systems to maintain higher indoor temperatures.

Lastly, turning on the heating in the UK is not always a simple question of if, but rather when and to what extent residents choose to warm their homes. External factors such as changes in weather conditions, household insulation, and energy efficiency of heating systems can lead to adjustments in heating duration and intensity.

Taking these variables into account, it's essential for individuals to evaluate their own unique circumstances when deciding on the most suitable heating strategies for their homes.

Energy Saving Tips and Resources

The Energy Saving Trust suggests a variety of efficiency measures to minimise energy consumption and costs. It's crucial that you consider the needs and preferences of your household when determining how long to keep your heating on. 

One of the key tips to save energy is to maintain your heating system regularly. This ensures that it runs efficiently and prevents both minor and major issues from developing. 

It's also essential to insulate your home properly to prevent heat loss. Loft, wall, and floor insulation are all effective ways to conserve energy.

Another practical recommendation is to use a smart thermostat system. These devices enable you to control the temperature of your home remotely. You can schedule heating increments to ensure optimal indoor comfort while minimising wasted energy. 

Moreover, these smart devices often provide helpful feedback on your energy consumption habits and suggest improvements.

Investing in double-glazing can also prove beneficial, as this not only insulates your home but also offers noise reduction and increased security. Furthermore, consider using energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances — these can result in considerable savings on your energy bills.

It's worth noting that eligible consumers in the UK can benefit from the Warm Home Discount. This scheme provides financial assistance with energy costs, ensuring that low-income households can maintain a comfortable indoor environment during winter months. For more valuable advice on energy efficiency, consult the Energy Saving Trust website.

Remember that simple changes in behaviour can lead to significant energy savings. Turning off appliances and lights when not in use, for example, is an effective strategy to reduce costs. 

By adopting a proactive approach, you can confidently navigate the heating complexities of UK homes, save energy, and reduce your contributions to climate change.

Impact of Heating on Climate Change

Heating systems play a significant role in carbon emissions, especially in a country like Britain, with its cold and damp winters. 

In the UK, it is estimated that 19% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions are due to warming up residential and commercial buildings, with more than three-quarters of this coming from domestic buildings. 

This statistic emphasises the importance of understanding the environmental implications of heating systems.

One of the primary reasons behind the increase in carbon emissions is the reliance on fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil in heating systems.

Switching to alternative heating sources can play a vital role in reducing the impact of heating on climate change. Sustainable solutions such as heat pumps, solar water heaters, and biomass boilers can significantly reduce carbon emissions. Moreover, energy-efficient building designs can help minimise heat loss and thus decrease the energy required for heating, leading to a lower carbon footprint.

Simple measures, like improving insulation and adopting smart thermostat systems, can also contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. These efforts can not only decrease the environmental impact but also save homeowners money on their energy bills.

To summarise, heating systems have substantial implications for climate change due to their contribution to carbon emissions. 

In Britain and other countries with similar climates, adopting energy-efficient practices, sustainable heating solutions, and improved building design can help mitigate the impacts on the environment.

Regional Heating Preferences in UK

In the United Kingdom, households vary in their heating preferences based on factors such as regional climate, lifestyle, and circumstance. Research has shown that Brits have their heating on for an average of 4.7 hours a day during the colder months. However, this average varies across different areas in the country.

In Glasgow, Scotland, residents usually keep their heating on for the longest duration, averaging 5.4 hours a day. The Midlands sees slightly lower average heating times, with people in Nottingham having their heating on for 5.2 hours daily and those in Birmingham for 5.1 hours. These variations can be observed across other regions in the UK as well.

Interestingly, some British households have innovative ways to maintain a warmer home in winter. For instance, some people switch their heating on for brief periods in the morning and evening, followed by adding layers of clothing and making sure the curtains are closed to insulate their home further.

The type of heating system used also plays a role in determining how long a household will keep its heating on. In homes with central heating systems that are regularly maintained and energy-efficient, the heating time can be reduced, contributing to cost savings.

In conclusion, regional heating preferences in the UK vary due to factors such as location, climate, and household habits. It is essential for households to consider these variations when determining the most suitable heating solutions for their individual needs and comfort levels during the colder months.

Most Energy Efficient Combi Boilers

In 2023, there is a range of energy-efficient combi boilers available for UK households striving to reduce their energy consumption and heating bills. Here, we highlight a few top options that balance energy efficiency, reliability, and value for money.

Viessmann combi boilers come highly recommended, consistently excelling in performance and efficiency amongst industry professionals and homeowners alike. The Vitodens 200-W stands out, with its impressive modulation range, making it adaptable to different heat demands while maintaining optimal energy consumption.

Another notable choice is Worcester Bosch, a leading UK brand popular for its high-quality and reliable combi boilers. The Greenstar i series offers exceptional efficiency, user-friendly controls, and a robust design ensured to last for years. A bonus: Worcester Bosch's after-sales support and nationwide network of engineers provide peace of mind for homeowners.

Vaillant deserves mention too, with its ecoTEC Plus range of combi boilers. These well-engineered products showcase the brand's commitment to sustainability and energy conservation. These boilers not only meet the high energy efficiency standards needed in 2023 but also integrate smart features for easy operation and maintenance.

Stepping up in brand recognition, Ideal provides a diverse range of combi boilers, boasting impressive efficiency ratings. The Ideal Logic+ is a standout option, known for its easy installation and compatibility with smart controls. This combination allows homeowners to achieve higher efficiency levels and better tailor heat supply to their needs.

Finally, Alpha combi boilers offer a solid selection of energy-efficient options for UK households. The Alpha E-Tec and Evoke models both possess impressive energy-saving features and comply with ErP standards. What's more, Alpha boilers provide a compact design, making them an excellent choice for smaller homes with limited space.

Overall, selecting an energy-efficient combi boiler in 2023 should hinge on the preferences, budget, and specific needs of each household. The options listed above and additional contenders from brands like Glow Worm and Baxi should be considered based on their unique features, ease of use, and overall performance. Check out our guide to the Best Combi Boilers for more information.


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Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to turn on heating in the UK?

The best time to turn on heating in the UK is typically during late autumn when temperatures start dropping and throughout the winter months until early spring. It's essential to monitor the weather and adjust the heating as needed to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

How many hours a day should heating be on in the UK?

The number of hours a day the heating should be on in the UK depends on various factors, including the outside temperature, insulation of your home, and your daily activities. As a general guideline, consider setting your heating to be active a few hours in the morning and evening when you are likely to be at home and reduce it or turn it off when you're away or asleep.

How many hours a day should I have heating on?

The number of hours you should have heating on depends on your comfort preferences and daily routine. If you spend most of your day at home, you might need to use heating for more hours. However, if you're often away, consider using a programmable thermostat to schedule heating only when you need it, which can help save on energy costs.

Is it cheaper to leave heating on all day in the UK?

No, it is generally not cheaper to leave heating on all day in the UK. It is more cost-effective to use heating only when necessary. Consider programming your heating to turn on a bit before you wake up and before you return home, and then lower it or turn it off when you don't need it to save on energy bills.

Should you turn heating off at night in the UK?

Yes, it is generally recommended to turn the heating off at night in the UK. Lowering the heating or turning it off when you sleep can help you save on energy costs and is often more comfortable for sleeping. Use blankets or extra layers to keep warm during the night.

Is it cheaper to leave heating on low in the UK?

Leaving the heating on low can be more cost-effective than turning it off completely if you're going to be away for a short time. However, for longer periods of absence, it's generally more energy-efficient to turn the heating off entirely. Use the low setting sparingly and consider other energy-saving practices, such as proper insulation, to reduce heating costs.

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Article by
Stephen Day | Co-founder
Gas Safe registered and FGAS certified engineer with over 20 years experience in the heating and cooling industry.