With rising utility costs, colder winters, and the need to ensure your home is as efficient as possible, we’re often asked about which boilers and central heating system will be the best solution for a home – and there isn’t a universally correct answer for every property.
It’s also important to bear in mind that cost efficiency and heating efficiency are sometimes two different factors.
An extremely efficient heating system that extracts maximum heat output for every input unit of energy might also be extremely expensive – meaning the cost per unit of heat is higher than for a comparable option.
Here we provide some independent overviews of the pros and cons of various central heating systems and advice about ensuring you don’t overspend on your heat and hot water throughout the winter to come.
Which UK Boilers Systems Can I Choose Between?
You’ll likely be familiar with the most prevalent types of heaters, but as a recap, these include:
- Gas boilers
- Oil and LPG central heating
- Electrical boilers
- Renewable central heating
Each has positive aspects, and in some cases, the location, configuration and age of your property may influence the boiler and wider central heating system we recommend.
For example, some homes are ideally suited to renewable energy solutions such as an air source heat pump – but this could be trickier for rented homes, properties with very little outdoor space, or where you aren’t keen on fitting an external unit to an outside wall.
Let’s take a look at each of the central heating system alternatives in the above list to give you an idea about the efficiencies on offer.
Gas Central Heating System Installations
Gas boilers and central heating remain cost-effective, given that most UK homes are set up for a gas boiler – without any need to replace pipes and cables unless they are beyond their usable life or have become damaged and worn.
The issue with gas is that it is a fossil fuel, with a growing number of people looking for more eco-friendly, sustainable heating systems. If you decide a gas boiler is the right option, we suggest an A-rated, highly efficient system that uses as little gas as possible to achieve your desired heat outputs.
Older gas boilers are, unfortunately, very inefficient and can guzzle gas, adding to your carbon footprint while struggling to keep pace with your heating requirements.
While renewable energy is a more environmentally friendly option, replacing an outdated gas boiler with a modern unit can make a substantial difference to the heating efficiency and carbon outputs of your property.
Oil and LPG Central Heating
Oil and LPG are much less common but are still used for homes in specific areas – normally those in rural regions without access to a gas mains supply. Most oil systems have a tank outside the house to store the oil, with periodic deliveries to top up the levels.
LPG – or liquid petroleum gas – is another less standard type of heating oil, which can be very expensive, depending on supply and demand.
As with gas boilers, oil isn’t renewable or considered a sustainable heating system. It also tends to be rarely efficient since the cost of the oil, delivery charges, and the risk of running out during a cold snap can make your central heating unreliable and costly.
Electricity is far more environmentally sound than oil or gas. Still, it can be more expensive per unit, which might influence your willingness to swap a reasonably efficient gas boiler for a super-efficient electrical heater – which will ramp up your utility bills.
For most homeowners, switching gas central heating to electric will increase your heating costs by more than double. However, if you decide to fit solar panels to your home with a solar energy battery storage solution, electrical heating becomes far more viable, with a minimal cost.
We’d also note that renewable central heating normally relies on electricity to power some of the components. Because the main fuel source is renewable, either solar power or ambient air temperature, the electricity is used to power accessories rather than the actual fuel source.
Older electrical heating systems, including storage heaters, are still found in some homes. These heaters draw on electricity overnight when tariffs are at their lowest and then generate heat at a low level throughout the day.
Storage heaters can be efficient, but only when paired with an economical electricity tariff and where your property has sufficient spare space to accommodate the storage heater.
It’s often unwise to replace an older storage heater since they are less widely available and usually cost a considerable budget to install. You’d also need to pay for the removal of the older unit – making an efficient modern heater a better option from a cost-efficiency perspective.
Upgrade the heating and power in your home
Renewable Central Heating
Our fourth and final solution is renewable central heating, replacing gas and electric heating systems with heat produced without reliance on mains electricity or gas and with little use of fossil fuels. These units provide enhanced dependability, are unaffected by power cuts, and can be great for the environment.
Options such as air source heat pumps are normally far more efficient than an older heating system – but aren’t always 100% renewable due to the need for electric power to operate some of the components, as we’ve indicated.
The primary issue with renewable central heating currently is the cost of a unit, with varied grants and subsidies that aren’t always available and tend to be restricted to specific projects or areas. However, as renewables become more widespread, they will likely also become more affordable and balance heat efficiency, sustainability and cost efficiency.
Improving the Cost Efficiency of Your Central Heating System
If you’re happy with your heating – or aren’t in a position to replace your boiler – but want to lower your utility costs without sacrificing warmth and comfort, there are a few things you may be able to do.
Efficient heating systems and appliances convert fuel into energy with as little wastage as possible, which means your bills are lower, and it costs less to sustain the same level of heat or hot water you are used to.
Wastage occurs when heat escapes or is lost, so improving your insulation can make a big difference. Low-quality insulation such as single-glazed windows, gaps in your door frames and draughty entrances mean the heat generated by your boiler dissipates, and you need to leave the heating on for longer and at a higher setting to generate the same warmth.
While home improvements such as wall and loft insulation and efficient triple glazing are ideal, you can use some simpler solutions like draught excluders, window films and thermostats, seals around window frames, move furniture away from radiators and close your curtains to improve the insulation within your home
If you’d like further information about cost-effective central heating and the best ways to upgrade your boiler or reduce the costs of heating your property and domestic hot water, please get in touch with the Gas Worx team at any time.
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Let us know if there is a particular heating solution you are interested in, or schedule a call at a good time for a discussion with one of our renewable and energy-efficient heating experts to explore all the options.