How to use thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) the right way to save on your heating bill
If you've ever wondered how to adjust your thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) so you can save on your heating bill, here's your answer.
How do thermostatic radiator valves work?
Let's start by looking at how thermostatic radiator valves work. Each TRV contains two parts: the head, which contains a heat-sensitive material which expands or contracts depending on the temperature; and the body, which contains a pin that either blocks or allows the flow of hot water into the radiator. It's pretty simple: if it's cold, the valve material shrinks, so the valve opens and water flows into the radiator and if it's warm, the material expands and the valve closes.
What setting should I use on my thermostatic radiator valve?
Thermostatic radiator valves are installed as part of your radiator pipework and have settings for frost protection, 1-5 and off.
When you get your valve, it should come with a guide that explains what temperatures match to which number on the dial. For example, a three on a dial might relate to 17 degrees Celsius, so if you have the dial set to three and the temperature drops to below 17 degrees, your TRV will open the valve and allow hot water into your radiator to heat your room.
If you don't have the guide, you can do a bit of testing to figure out the best number for your TRV, based on how warm you want your home. Digital TRVs mean you can control your heating settings even more.
My top TRV tip is this: if you're off on your jolly hols - especially in Winter - turn 'em onto the frost protection "snowflake" setting to avoid frozen pipes.
Common mistakes people make with TRVs
The number one mistake I see people making time and time again with TRVs is to turn them up to max when they're cold. If you're cold but the radiator is hot, then your TRV already knows the heating needs to be on and it's working. There is nothing else you need to do. (Adopts booming voice): "Step AWAY from the TRV!"
If you want to see what this looks like, watch my Blue Peter style demonstration on YouTube:
If you're cold and the radiator is either cold or barely working, then move the TRV up a notch or two, unless you'd had it switched off completely. Avoid throwing it up to the maximum, unless you have money to burn on your energy bill.
The other mistake people can make with TRVs is to install one in the same room as your main heating thermostat. If you do that, they'll effectively be competing against each other and confusion will reign.
So now you know how to use thermostatic radiator valves to save yourself money. The great news is, when you team the up with other heating controls you could save even more!
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