Home » Central Heating Supplies » Currently Reading:

Central Heating Controls

Control systems for central heating have become more and more sophisticated and give you, the user, much more control over how your heating system is used.

Many of the variations in controls are designed to save energy by controlling the heat output in different zones and rooms within the home. While other controls are designed to make the heating system work more efficiently and therefore consume less energy.


The modern central heating controls give you more efficient control of the system.

Control Panel On A Central Heating Boiler

Most central heating systems are governed by three thermostats to control the heat of the water circulating through the system, the heat output of the radiators, and the heating of the hot water.

The thermostat on the boiler controls the heat of water in the central heating system, and will usually be set by the installer or technician who carried out the last service in the boiler. In general the thermostat should be set to between 60-80 degrees C, at the higher end of the range in winter months and the lower end on the range in the summer.

The room thermostat is what controls the heat output from the radiators, and will ‘call’ for heat from the boiler as necessary to maintain an even temperature in the house. Often the room stat is situated in a hallway or a living room, although modern sophisticated systems may have multiple thermostats in each room of the house, or in zones throughout the house.

This enables you to set a different temperature in different parts of the property to best suit your lifestyle and to prevent energy wastage from heating rooms, which are not in use.

The room thermostat should usually be set somewhere between 16 degrees C and 21 degrees C, depending on personal preference, although this may vary if very young children or elderly people are in the house.

If you have a hot water cylinder, the thermostat should be set to 60 degrees C to prevent the build up of bacteria within the cylinder and pipe work. It should not be set any higher, as hotter water could easily scald; and if children or older people inhabit the house it may be necessary to fit thermostatic blending valves at the tap outlets to control safe temperatures at the sink, shower, or bath etc.



Most central heating systems are fitted with a seven day, twenty-four hour programmer, which enables you to control the times your heating and hot water is on throughout each day.

Most programmers have two on and off times each day for both heating and hot water. This helps to save energy as you can time the heating to come on when you are at home, and to stay off when you are out.

You can also control the hot water to coincide with the times when you are likely to use baths, showers, or hot water for washing up. Most good timers allow you to set different times for weekdays and weekends, where routines may differ due to working hours.


Thermostatic radiator valves

For further control of radiator heat output, thermostatic valves can be fitted to each radiator in the house.

Thermostatic Radiator Valve Being Adjusted.

Thermostatic radiator valves can be fitted onto each radiator in the house to further control the heat output in each room. These can be fitted as part of the initial installation, or retro-fitted to an existing system after draining it down.

Thermostatic valves can be particularly useful for systems, which are controlled by a single room thermostat, as they enable different temperatures to be set in different rooms.

All but one of the radiators in a house should be fitted with a thermostatic valve; the one left out is used as a bypass should all the valves close, while the heating system is still running.

Thermostatic valves are set to varying temperatures, depending on the room, and will close to isolate the radiator from the system when the desired temperature is reached. This enables you to save energy by setting lower temperatures in rooms that are not in use.


Zone valves

A zone valve is a crucial control within a central heating system, as it controls the flow of hot water to the central heating system, the coil in the hot water cylinder, or both as required.

Often described as ‘two port’ or ‘three port’ valves, they are controlled by the electronic programmer and will allow the flow of water to either side of the system, depending on the thermostats.

Zone valves are commonplace amongst central heating systems, and avoid unnecessarily heating both hot water and central heating when only one is required.



The pump is an important component within the central heating system, pumping the water around the system and back to the boiler to be reheated.

The speed at which this water is circulated can have a direct effect on the amount of heat emitted from radiators, and the overall efficiency of the system.

Most pumps have variable speed settings, but newer models have been designed with automatic adaptive systems, which can adjust themselves according to the flow of water and demands of the heating system; this means that the central heating as a whole is more efficient.



Central heating controls vary, and as systems become more energy efficient, so the controls become more sophisticated. With over half the money spent on energy in the typical UK household going on the heating and the hot water, it is more important than ever for us to control our energy consumption.

In the next few years many people may be converted to smart meters, which will enable us to monitor and control our energy use in much greater detail.

The European Union has a target that 80% of consumers will have their properties fitted with a smart meter by 2020, as part of an overall carbon emissions reduction strategy.

Smart meters provide detailed information to both customer and energy provider about consumption, and will make billing much more accurate and based on actual usage.

With the introduction of energy monitoring devices such as smart meters, we will be able to get a true picture of how much energy our central heating systems are using and adjust or implement controls as necessary, to lower consumption and save money on heating bills.

Comment on this Article:

Central Heating

Electric Central Heating

Electric boilers are silent in operation, and do not require an annual service, which does help to offset potential higher running costs.

Central heating is one of the most energy efficient and effective ways to heat a home, and along with insulation, is one of the best …

Oil Central Heating

Using an efficient condensing boiler, makes them an acceptable alternative to gas

The cost of fuel and energy is continuing to rise, so it is important to make our homes as energy-efficient and therefore as cost-effective as …

Gas Central Heating

A single boiler burns gas and the heat is passed through a heat exchanger to heat the water for the central heating.

Gas central heating is the most common type of heating system in use in the UK today. Gas is generally one of the cheaper fuels …

Central Heating Supplies

Electric Central Heating Boilers

Electric boilers can operate with standard radiators and also heat water.

The most common fuel used to power central heating in the UK is mains gas, but with over four million households not connected to the …

Central Heating Pumps

Pump for central heating

The pump is an integral part of a central heating system, circulating the hot water through the network of pipes and to the radiators. An …

Central Heating Pipes

It pays to give consideration to the pipe work within the central heating system.

If you are planning to install a central heating system, or you are replacing large parts of an existing system, the benefits you can expect …

Central Heating Care

Central Heating Pump Speed Setting

Grundfos Central Heating Pump with black face and white writing showing speed settings available.

If you’re wondering how to choose the best speed setting for your central heating pump, then you’re not alone. It’s one of the most frequently …

How to Drain a Central Heating System

If you are familiar with your system, you may de able to do some of the work yourself

Problems with central heating systems are generally rare, but there are occasions when repairs need to be carried out, which may involve draining the entire …

How to Find Central Heating Engineers

To ensure central heating is installed properly, it's important to find an efficient installer.

Heating bills account for over half the money spent on energy in the average UK household. An efficient central heating system will save money annually …