How to Set the Timer on Your Boiler

When the world outside your window gets cold, a good boiler is there to keep your home nice and warm. But, running your boiler 24/7 can be expensive – setting up your boiler on a timer is a surefire way to save energy and money in your home. 

Boilers come in all shapes and sizes, and the first thing to know is that there are two types of boiler timers: digital timers and mechanical timers. Modern boilers tend to come equipped with a digital timer, whereas older models will probably be installed with a mechanical timer. 

Knowing how to operate your boiler timer will save money on your heating bills and help do your bit for the environment. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to set the timer on your boiler.

How to Set a Digital Timer

1. Ensure the time and date settings are correct

Look for a button which says “clock” or “set time” on your control panel. Press it. Next, use the arrow buttons to find today’s day or date, and press the “select” button to confirm. Use the same arrow buttons to adjust the time. When you have the correct time and date on your digital boiler timer, use the “select” or “set time” button to confirm the setting. 

2. Enter scheduling mode

You probably won’t want to have your central heating running all day, every day. Scheduling, or programming, allows you to set specific times for the central heating system to turn on or off. 

There should be a button which says “program” or “set” (on some models, this is a switch). Press (or slide) it to enter scheduling mode. Now it’s time to think about when you want the hot water or heating to come on.

3. Input the days and times you want the boiler to turn on

Again, use the arrows to navigate to the day of the week you want to set. Depending on the model and digital boiler timer you have, it may be necessary to select a time every day, or you may be able to group days together. Next, you’ll need to input the time for the boiler to come on. Once you have the desired time, use the “enter” or “select” button to lock it in.

4. Input the time you want the boiler to turn off

After you’ve selected the time for the boiler to turn on, the programmer will switch to setting the turn-off time. Just like before, use the arrows to set the time, and “enter” or “select” to confirm. Depending on the model, some digital boiler timers support more than one timed setting per day.

5. Save your settings and run your schedule

Press the “set” button to confirm everything. This will remember your settings, and begin running your new boiler schedule automatically. (If your boiler has a switch, slide it to “run”).

Pro tips:
  • While some digital boiler timers take care of time and date settings automatically, others require you to manually set the time and date, and with daylight savings to think about, it doesn’t hurt to check it once in a while.
  • Make sure you pay attention to AM or PM, and whether your boiler uses the 12 or 24 hour clock.
  • It’s always a good idea to consult your boiler’s manual. This will give you exact instructions for the boiler controls written by the manufacturer. 2 minutes reading will save 20 minutes spent fiddling with buttons. 
  • Remember that it can take up to 30 minutes to get water up to temperature, so it’s a good idea to set your range for about half an hour before when you want to feel the central heating. Most people opt for ranges that include breakfast time, and when everyone is home from school or work, for example 6:00am-8:30am and 17:00pm-23:00pm.

How to Set a Mechanical Timer

1. Set the dial to the correct time

Every mechanical boiler timer will have a round dial. This should be fairly easy to identify. The first step is to set the current time. Rotate the dial clockwise until you have it correct. It may not spin anti-clockwise.

2. Choose the times you want the boiler to be running

The dial will be surrounded by pins. These look like a series of tiny switches, running all the way around. The important thing to remember is that each pin represents 15 minutes. 

Have a look at the markings around the dial, and find the time you want your boiler to come on. Switch on the pin that corresponds to that time. (This may mean sliding the pin toward the center, or flicking it outward, depending on the model.) Push all consecutive pins, until you reach the time you want the boiler to turn off. For all times you want the central heating to be turned off, leave the pins as they are.

For example, if you want the boiler to be on from 06:00am-08:00am, switch on the pin at 6:00am, and every other pin until 08:00am. When the clock reaches 06:00am it will automatically start the daily cycle, and when it gets to 08:00am, it will automatically turn off. 

3. Set the timer to run

This is an important last step but an easy one to forget. The mechanical timer will have a switch, with one option marked “timer” (this may be indicated by a small image of a clock). Make sure the switch is set to this position. 

Pro tips:
  • A mechanical timer may be referred to as an analogue timer, or even a clockwork timer. They all mean the same thing. 
  • If you get confused, the user manual is your friend! Many mechanical boiler timers have slightly different settings, so see what the instructions say. If you can’t find the paper manual, most boiler manufacturers publish the manual online for free. 
  • Virtually all mechanical timers exclude daylight saving functionality – meaning that if the clocks go forward or backward, you’ll need to change the boiler clock, too. 
  • Using the pins, it will be possible to select multiple ranges throughout the day, but bear in mind that it’s not the best idea to have your boiler constantly firing up and powering down. We’d recommend setting no more than two time ranges per day. 
  • Don’t forget to set the timer switch at the end. If it isn’t set, the timer won’t function, and you’ll only be able to switch the boiler on or off manually. Of course, you can ask the boiler to ignore the timer schedule for a day or two, by simply flicking off this switch.

The Bottom Line on Boiler Timers

Whatever boiler model your home has, using the scheduling feature is a great way to save some cash and make your home more energy efficient. Energy costs are a concern for many, and understanding how your boiler timer works will give you the knowledge you need to keep those energy bills down and improve your home’s cost effectiveness. Plus, you’ll be able to stay warm and reduce your carbon footprint!

Are you having some trouble with your boiler? Not to worry. Chances are there’s an easy fix, and one of our professional engineers is on hand to sort it out for you. Repairs or new installs: we’re here to help. Get in touch today for a quote.