Energy efficient central heating

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  • Author Claire Hamill
  • Published July 21, 2007
  • Word count 1,219

Once you have purchased and installed your central heating system you need to look after it.

There are many products that are available to add to your system to keep it running on a regular basis, and there are others that you can install and let them do the work for you. Either way, a well looked after system will run more efficiently for you.

We have all heard the advice from the Government and environmental agents telling us to turn off lights, turn off TVs and not leaving them on standby, and turning down our washing machine temperature and room thermostats. All of these are very effective ways of saving energy which will not only help environmentally but also reduce many household bills. But what about getting your central heating system to work more efficiently?

The build up of sludge and limescale deposits in your central heating system will cause it to run less efficiently.

To stop the build up of limescale and sludge in your system - particularly in hard water areas, then you need to take a look at water treatment.

Water treatment is a term used to cover many different ways of looking after your system. A wide range of water treatment products including scale reducers and inhibitors, magnetic and electronic lime fighters, sludge removers, noise reducers and anti-freeze are available.

Living in the UK means that depending on whereabouts you are in the country, your water can range from hard to soft. Living in a hard water area means that you are prone to limescale - your kettle probably being the first place that you will notice limescale deposits as well as on your showerhead and taps. Limescale reduces efficiency and adds to heating bills. Just a small, thin layer of scale in your hot water cylinder can increase your fuel bills by as much as 40%. Limescale is simply calcium deposits in your system. Those who live in soft water areas need not take quite so many precautions - but it is always wise to seek advice if you are unsure.

Most water treatments act by altering the molecular structure of the water and the particles therein and changing the way it behaves. Some will change one structure for another, others remove the offending structure and another will stop them from being able to make a solid - leaving them in suspension.

There are chemical test kits which will measure the ph and chloride levels and also the iron and copper levels so that you can measure the probable corrosion potential and rate.

First, you must ensure that your system has been installed by a competent person - just knowing that you must never directly connect aluminium to copper or brass because simply by connecting different metals can start a reaction which causes corrosion. All gas connections must be made by a CORGI registered tradesperson.

It is a good idea to plan ahead, if you are having a new system installed, think which water treatment you will require as some can be fitted to your system. If you are updating your existing system you would be looking at flushing the whole system before adding any water treatment solutions.

Heating systems take water from the mains water supply and there are various systems that you can attach to your mains supply to deal with hard water problems, however, it is worth noting that systems that are put in to soften water in your home are only for household use and will do nothing for your central heating system problems. They will help make detergents and soaps lather more readily but do not help in the fight to get your heating system working efficiently.

The three main things that you need to prevent are corrosion, limescale and biological growth.

Corrosion can start from the moment the system is set up and filled with water from the mains supply. Corrosion causes sludge in the system which can restrict the circulation causing cold spots on your radiators. It can cause pinholes in the radiators and if left can cause the boiler to become noisy.

Limescale is caused by calcium and magnesium which is present in the water - hard water areas having far more of these minerals than other parts of the country. Once the water is heated it leaves deposits of these minerals which form a hard crust, building up over time and blocking pipes etc. This again can manifest itself with a noisy heating system.

Biological growth in the system is another one to avoid. This tends to get into the system by open tanks. Once in the system it breeds producing slime and sludge. This can also grow and cause blockages in the pipework thereby reducing the efficiency of the whole system.

There is a lot of free advice on the internet. Take some time to look through this. I would start with the manufacturers themselves. Below is a list of manufacturers and some of the products they have available. Blogs are another great source of free advice and information or contact a supplier with any queries that you may have.

Good luck with your water treatment - here's to energy efficient heating and hot water with lower household bills of course.

Aqua-Dial: Aqua-Dial Combi-Care uses a dilute form of polyphosphate which bonds with the scale causing minerals in the water making them soluble with the remaining hard minerals staying in the solution. The Aqua-Dial Combi-Care permanently prevents precipitation of calcium scale as well as protection against corrosion with a 12 month cartridge life. The Aqua-Dial Ceramic Magnetic Scale Reducer offers whole house scale protection. Suitable for immersion heaters, hot water cylinders and heaters, combi boilers and electric showers.

Fernox: Fernox manufacture an extensive range of Water Treatment products, including Central Heating Protector, System Neutraliser, Cleaner and Cleanser, Limescale Preventor and Remover, and Cleansing and Flushing Restorer. New to the range is the Boiler Buddy, a magnetic filter that traps magnetite and sludge. The Boiler Buddy is designed to last the life of the heating system.

Liff: The Liff Limebeater is an eloctrolytic water conditioner which changes the characteristics of water allowing limescale simply to pass through a domestic hot water system without sticking to heat exchange surfaces and extends the life of hot water appliances and cylinders. The Liff Wrappa is an electronic water conditioner for copper or plastic water pipe that uses radio frequencies to alter the characteristics of water, again allowing limescale to pass through a domestic hot water system without sticking to heat exchange surfaces. The Wrappa can also remove existing scale from a system.

Salamander: The Salamander SESI inhibits limescale formation in domestic water systems without using chemicals or salt. WRAS approved. The Salamander SESI is installed on the incoming mains, and treats the whole house.

Scalemaster: Scalemaster produce a range of scale inhibitors and reducers. Magnetic, digisonic and electrolytic products available for water treatment and for corrosion protection there are the Scalemaster Corrosion Masters.

Sentinel: Sentinel manufacture a comprehensive range of easy to use scale inhibitors and reducers, including Sentinel Universal Combiguard, Ferroquest and Universal cleansers, ensuring the efficiency if the central heating system is maintained.

All of these products can be purchased at UK Plumbing Ltd - online suppliers of plumbing and heating supplies to the trade and DIY.

Claire Hamill of UK Plumbing Ltd ( an internet company supplying plumbing and heating supplies to the trade and diy customers.

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