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How to Heat your Home Correctly

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In the average household approximately three quarters of energy consumption is allotted to the heating – correct heating is the best way to save costs and reduce CO₂ emissions. We show you how you can save energy and money with it.

Heating accounts for around three quarters of the total energy consumption at home. In addition, room heating is responsible for 60 percent of CO₂ emissions in the household. Correct heating can therefore be much more climate-friendly than saving electricity.

One tip in advance: moving can help. For example, moving to an apartment with less living space, because the size of the living space strongly influences your heating costs. Or to an apartment in a passive or low-energy house. If that is not an option, we have the 15 heating tips for you:

1. Heating more consciously

Correct heating often means: heating less or at least more consciously. In your apartment it doesn’t have to be 77 degrees in winter – every degree less saves heating energy. According to estimates, you save up to 1 percent energy per degree. (Whether this figure is really quite accurate is controversial – one thing is certain: you save money with it).

The optimal room temperature is about 68 degrees. In the bathroom it may already be 71 degrees, but in other rooms often less is enough: In the kitchen the oven and refrigerator give off heat; in the bedroom 62 to 64 degrees ensure a good sleep, some prefer even less.

By the way: If you get cold at night, a hot-water bottle is wiser than a heated bedroom.

Important: It is not about freezing in your own four walls! But often one does not freeze in spite of, but because of the heating. The body adapts to the higher temperature in the room and then actually doesn’t even notice that the room is overheated.

By the way, unused rooms need little or no heating. But: It shouldn’t get much colder than 59 degrees in winter with outside temperatures below zero. Otherwise there is the threat of mold. That applies particularly with sources of humidity in the house or in the cool rooms.

Also on enormously: Above all with the warm water pay attention: Thus water saving in the household makes sense

2. When to start heating – only in deep winter?

Many people ask themselves the question, from when correct heating makes sense at all or from when heating by landlords must be made possible in principle.

Typically one begins at the earliest from October with heating. In 2019, October temperature often was over 68 degrees – heating is therefore not necessary for a long time. Even in 2020, October is still relatively mild so far.

From the end of April, heating is usually no longer necessary. Of course this depends on your region and the local weather in winter.
Conversely, this means that the largest part of our heating energy consumption falls mainly on the months of December to March: Correct heating also means to start later and stop earlier.

By the way: heating is one of the things that has the greatest influence on the climate. Reducing the floor space of your own home is therefore one of the most effective things you can do to protect the climate. Unfortunately also the most difficult.

3. Preserve heating energy at night

Windows do not have the same insulating effect as walls. Correct heating here means letting as little heat escape as possible – especially in winter. That’s why it makes sense to lower roller shutters after dark – this way the heat loss at the windows can be reduced by up to 20 percent and you can save heating costs.

By the way: Closing the curtains really does add a few percent!

4. Open the window instead of continuous tilting

Correct heating is only possible with correct ventilation: Permanently tilted windows hardly provide for air exchange, they only cool down the walls. Proper ventilation, on the other hand, saves a lot of energy and is also good for your health.

Too little humidity in the room dries out the mucous membranes, too much favors straight at cold walls molds. So open the windows fully for a few minutes several times a day to ensure a complete exchange of air – but first turn down the thermostatic valve.

5. Insulate the wall behind the heater

Correct heating also means keeping the heat in the apartment as much as possible. An insulation layer directly behind the radiator reduces the direct heat loss via the outer wall. In the hardware store you can find insulation mats in different thicknesses and with or without aluminum coating. (Aluminium reflects the heat radiation.)

It is best to get advice here, because insulation is a science in itself. But with proper insulation you can significantly reduce the heat requirement and save energy.

6. Correct heating: keep windows and doors tight

Correct heating is of little help if some of the heat escapes through leaking windows and doors. Seals in window and door frames become porous over time and thus leak. In winter this can be really expensive.

You can easily fill the gaps with foam or rubber sealing tape (also called profile sealing tape). You can get these in every hardware store in different designs. Important: Ventilate properly!

7. Do not cover radiators

Make sure that your radiators are not covered by furniture or curtains. Thermostats should not be covered either. Otherwise the heat cannot be distributed well in the room and your heating system works more than necessary – this only wastes energy.

8. Set the thermostat correctly

The numbers on many heating thermostats are by no means randomly arranged. They indicate quite exactly how warm it gets in the room – but not the temperature itself. At the same time they also inform you how much energy you can save.

9. Adjust temperature during day and night

How to adjust the heating at night and during the day?

  • During the day, typically select approx. 64 to 68 degrees.
  • At night, in the bedroom, choose 57 degrees.
  • In mostly unused rooms set 53 degrees.

Controversial is the lowering of the temperature at night. During the day you want to have it warm, at night you could theoretically switch off the heating completely. But in the morning you have to heat up again to have a warm apartment – this also devours heating energy. It is likewise controversial whether reheating the cooled dwelling is now more meaningful than heating through with “night setback”, i.e. a lower, but not low temperature. The answer depends on many factors, above all on the building mass and the building insulation, and only an expert can determine these for the concrete application case.

But to have a rule of thumb for yourself, proceed as follows: On a night with zero degrees outside temperature, switch off the heating once completely. Check the temperature the next morning: The lower the temperature dropped overnight, the less energy the building or apartment could store, the more sensible it would be to reduce the temperature afterwards, i.e. to heat at night with a low temperature.

By the way: Not only at night, but also during the day, the heating temperature can be lowered if nobody is at home during the day – and thus save up to 15 percent of heating energy in buildings with high consumption.

10. Heating correctly: if possible do use clean energy

Heating with electricity is often not very effective and also quite expensive. So use fan heaters very sparingly, if at all. Infrared heaters also heat with electricity. For the same reason, the wasteful night storage heaters in modern homes have no use for electricity, at least not as long as you don’t have green electricity.

In the course of the energy turnaround we will probably heat more and better with (green) electricity. But this only makes sense if it actually comes from regenerative sources, i.e. if it is green electricity, and if the chosen heating method is sufficiently efficient, i.e. has a high degree of efficiency.

Of course, in rented apartments only a few people have the opportunity to change something about the heating system.

11. Control your own energy consumption

The costs for electricity and heating are debited directly from the account on a monthly basis – tenants usually pay an advance payment agreed with the landlord or the electricity supplier; the annual statement often follows sometime in the next year. This is convenient, but unfortunately it also leads to the fact that you quickly lose track of the amount of energy consumed.

Therefore you should pay close attention to your consumption. You can find approximate comparative values for heating costs in the heating mirror. For electricity consumption, some public utilities offer apps that allow you to keep track of your own consumption. Electricity consumption meters are available for as little as 20 euros, and some consumer advice centers also lend them out free of charge – they show the electricity that a device consumes.

12. Correct heating with automatic radiator control

With programmable thermostats on the radiators, you can set the heating cycle to the optimum level in each room, thus saving a lot of energy. It can also be conveniently controlled by radio from a room controller. In this way the rooms are only heated at the times when they are actually used. You always have a pleasant room temperature and save energy costs at the same time.

The installation of programmable thermostats is easy: Only the thermostat head has to be replaced.

13. Turn off the heating earlier

If you go to bed, of course you switch off the heating first. But now the heating is still reheating for a while, and this heat is actually no longer of any use to the resident.

Cleverer thus: A half or whole hour before going to bed already times the heating down turn. This also saves some energy again.

14. Check the radiator

If there is air in the radiator, you must vent the heater. Otherwise the warm water cannot rise into the radiator and the heating remains cold.

15. Dress warmer than heat more

Sounds really banal, but it’s also true: If you want to have it really warm, you better heat less – and dress warmer instead. Above all, keep your feet warm – then you will freeze less easily!

Wool socks and warm sweaters help. Even a simple scarf makes you feel less cold, a scarf of course more. In the long run, people who don’t constantly spend time in overheated rooms remain healthier.

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