Heating Controls - Timers, Programmers and Room Thermostats

Timers / Boiler Timer

Most boilers come with a timer, which you can use to program your heating to switch on and off automatically at particular times of day. A boiler timer, or boiler clock, allows you to control what time of day your heating and hot water turns on and off.

A mechanical boiler timer, also known as an analogue timer, is usually a round dial with a 24-hour clock in the middle. There are pins around the outside of the dial, each one indicating a period of 15 minutes, and an adjustable arrow used to point to the current time of day. If you have an older heating system, the timer might look like a small clock or dial on the front of your boiler. This is called a mechanical timer.

Benefits of setting your boiler timer.
  • Save money. Making sure your heating is only on when you need it is the best way to trim some extra cash off your energy bills.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint. Heating is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions in the home. So by switching it off as much as possible, you’re doing your bit in the fight against climate change.
  • Stay warm. Make sure your central heating is always on only when you need it.


A boiler programmer allows you to set different times for heating and/or hot water.

What is the difference between timers and programmers?

A timer operates your heating system at the same times every day whereas a programmer allows different heating times for different days of the week to suit your lifestyle.

Room Thermostats

A room thermostat enables you to set the target temperature for a room. Room thermostats are usually best positioned in the hall or landing. They should be sited away from direct sunlight and clear of curtains and furniture.

Programmable room thermostats:
A programmable room thermostat enables you to set different room temperatures for different times of the day and night. When set up correctly, a programmable room thermostat prevents the system from having to heat the house from a 'cold start'. The control always maintains a temperature within the property and this ensures that the boiler is only ever 'topping up' the temperature in the home. As a guideline, target temperatures should be set at 21 C for comfort temperature and 15 C for economy temperature.