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Central Heating Timers

According to the National Energy Foundation, around two thirds of households in the UK do not have the level of control over their heating systems that would meet current regulations if they were installed today.

This means that something like 60% of us are wasting energy unnecessarily and paying more than we should on our energy bills.

If the central heating and hot water are linked, as they are in many properties, current building regulations state that they should have independent controls.

Control the times your central heating is on or off with a timer.

A Central Heating Timer Control Panel.

Older systems were not fitted with such sophisticated controls, however, and many systems will heat the radiators and the hot water simultaneously even if only one is required.

Such systems which are not fitted with timers are only controlled by the thermostat, which means that the house and the hot water are constantly kept at the desired temperature twenty-four hours a day.

This represents a huge waste of energy, and if you have an older central heating system you will certainly notice this in your fuel bill. The installation of a timer will give you greater control over the heating, allowing you to decide what times it comes on and goes off throughout the day.


The difference between timers and programmers

Programmers are more common in central heating systems today, and provide a greater level of control over both the heating and the hot water.

A programmer usually has at least two on and off times per day for the heating and hot water independently and often incorporates separate controls for weekdays and weekends, allowing you to adjust the system to suit your lifestyle.

A timer is more likely to be used for a single central heating system where the hot water is heated by another source, or for a combination boiler which heats water for domestic use on demand.

Timers work on the same principle, having two or more on and off times per day, and while more basic models control the times on a daily basis, advanced timers can control the heating over a seven day period allowing for different heating patterns to be set.


Why install a timer?

Deciding whether or not to install a central heating timer.

Why install a central heating timer?

Many people still believe the myth that a heating system is more economical if it is left on all day and controlled by a thermostat.

This may be true of very old systems, but newer boilers are designed to switch on and off as required, and are much more efficient when timed to provide heat as and when necessary.

Put simply, whenever a boiler is burning it is using energy, and whenever the temperature outside is lower than that inside, there will be heat loss. Heating a house when nobody is present will waste energy and increase your heating bill considerably.

By installing a timer, you can control the heating to come on in the mornings and evenings when you are more likely to need it. It also gives you the opportunity to reduce the amount of time your heating is on during the summer months, when you may only need to use your central heating sparingly.


What timers are on the market?

There are a wide variety of different timers available, each offering different levels of control. Which one is right for you will depend on the type of system you have and how you use your central heating, but as an example we can look at the range supplied by Honeywell, one of the leading names in central heating components.

The Honeywell ST9100A is a one day, single channel timer. The most basic timer in the range, it has two on and off times per day, although it can be increased to three if required. It features a large digital display, and the clock is factory set with automatic summer and winter daylight saving time changes built-in.

Programmed settings are retained in the memory even in the event of a power cut, and the heating system can be given a one hour boost at the touch of a button without affecting the programmed times.

The ST9100C is a more advanced seven day timer, which also has three different on and off times for each day. You can set different times for the five weekdays and two weekend days, or completely different times for the full seven days of the week if desired.

As well as the features listed above, the ST9100C also includes a ‘holiday’ button, which enables you to turn the heating off for a set period of days, between 1 and 99, while you are away.

The ST9100S one day service timer incorporates all the features of the ST9100A timer, but in addition includes a mode which will alert the property owner of the next service due.

This is particularly useful for landlords, as it will help them comply with regulation 36 of the gas regulations 1998. The timer can be set to notify a tenant in advance when a service is due, and can also be set to display a phone number for a tenant to call to arrange a service.


How much do they cost?

Using the Honeywell models as a guide again, the ST9100A one day timer will cost in the region of £45, the ST9100C seven day timer will be around £50, while the ST9100S one day service timer will cost roughly £55.

These types of simple timers are generally fairly easy to install, although if you are unsure it is best to contact a qualified electrician.

Although it is difficult to estimate the amount of energy and money you will save by installing a central heating timer, they cost relatively little and even taking into account the price of installation, should pay for themselves within a year or two through the money saved on fuel bills.



Energy saving is high on the agenda of every home-owner today, and if your central heating is not controlled by a timer, you could be spending substantially more than necessary on your heating bills. The installation of even the most basic timer will have a significant effect on the amount of energy you consume.

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