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Home heating systems guide

Home Heating Systems

Gas Combi Boiler System

This week we guide you through the different types of home heating systems which include gas, LPG, Electric and Oil plus the general costs and potential savings.

Gas Central Heating System

Most households in the UK have mains gas central heating. See whether you’re paying a lot for gas, and become familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of gas central heating.

Gas central heating is a supposed wet system, meaning a gas fired boiler heats water to give central heating through radiators and hot water through the taps.

Many houses that aren’t connected to the gas network can use electrical heating, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) or oil, all of which work in a similar way to gas central heating.

Yearly average cost of gas

The average yearly cost of heating and hot water using gas is around £542, based on you using around 12,000 kWh per year.

There are a number of factors that affect energy bills, including the age of your home and insulation, the efficiency of a hot water and heating system, plus where you live in the UK.

Choosing a gas boiler

Buying an adequate, reliable boiler will provide you both peace of mind and lower bills.

Compared with an old G-rated boiler, you could save around £652 a year on heating with a modern A-rated condensing boiler.

Pros and cons of gas central heating

Pros:

  • Modern condensing boilers are very efficient so you get a good monetary return on every unit of energy used.
  • Replacing a standard gas boiler with a very efficient modern condensing boiler is fairly simple.

Cons:

  • Gas as a fossil fuel, produces carbon dioxide. So it’s not exactly a clean source of energy.
  • Installing a gas central heating system from scratch can be very expensive. If you are not on the gas network, connecting your home can be costly.
  • Gas boilers should be serviced every year to keep them running properly and last as long as possible.

Electric Central Heating System

Electric central heating system

If your house doesn’t have mains gas, you could use electricity, as nearly every household in the UK has access to electricity. But, electrical heating can be expensive.

We reveal the pros and cons of electric heating, plus the average cost of using electricity for heating.

Night storage heaters

The most practical form of electric central heating uses night storage heaters. The heaters use electricity at a cheaper ‘night-time’ rate to heat up special heat-retaining bricks. The bricks then heat your home all day using the heat stored inside them.

Night storage heaters give out heat slowly and are designed to keep warm for the whole of the following day. Once the heat runs out, you have to wait until the next night for them to reheat again; this means that your home is coldest at night. Read below to find out more pros and cons of electric heating.  

Modern storage heaters and electric radiators

Technology has moved on since storage heaters were first fitted in the 1960s. Modern storage heaters can now come with:

  • Thermostats
  • Remote wi-fi controls
  • Open window detectors
  • Programmable timers

From 1 January 2018, all new electric heaters must have thermostats, programmable timers, temperature controls and fans.

Heat retentive storage heaters can store more heat than traditional models; up to 45% 24 hours after they were last charged. So you are less likely to be cold come the evening.

You can also fit electric radiators that work with standard electricity tariffs, so you can turn them on and off to heat your home whenever you wish.

Other heating options if you do not have gas include biomass stoves, a heat pump or solar panels.

Yearly cost of electricity

The average yearly cost of heating and hot water using electricity would be around £776 per year if you use around 4,200 kWh of electricity. That’s almost £200 more per year than gas heating.

There are other factors that affect heating bills, including the age and size of a property, how well it’s insulated, the efficiency of the hot water and heating system and where you live in the UK.

Pros and cons of electric central heating

Pros:

  • Electric night storage heaters are much cheaper to install than gas central heating systems as they don’t require any pipes or a flue.
  • With very few moving parts, storage heaters don’t need to be serviced yearly.
  • Unlike gas, mains electricity is available just about everywhere in the UK.

Cons:

  • Electricity prices are about three to four times higher than gas prices per unit of energy.
  • Around 40% of electricity in the UK is generated in gas-fired power stations, so any increase in the price of gas will also be shown in the cost of electricity.
  • If you have not had your heating on one day and switch on your night storage heater, you won’t get heat until the following night.

LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) Central Heating System

LPG Liquid Petroleum Gas central heating system

If you’re among the few households that aren’t connected to mains gas in the UK and you use LPG to heat your house, then find out how much it costs compared to other heating.

LPG central heating is normally used in a wet heating system, where an LPG fired boiler heats water and provides central heating through radiators and hot water to the taps in your house. Some boilers designed for mains gas can be converted to use LPG.

Annual cost of LPG

The average annual cost for heating and hot water using LPG is around £793 when using about 12,000 kWh of gas a year.

Pros:

  • LPG is a very efficient fuel, so you will get a good return on the units of energy. But modern condensing boilers mentioned earlier, which use hot flue gas that is wasted in a standard boiler, now achieve efficiency of 90%.
  • Replacing a standard LPG boiler with a highly efficient modern condensing boiler is a relatively simple job.

Cons:

  • The price of LPG has generally been high compared with the price of heating oil or gas – heating oil costs are around £552 per year for heating and hot water. But, the price is rising steadily.
  • As LPG is delivered to your property by road, it is possible that you could run out while you wait for your next delivery of LPG. But, there are systems available that monitor the amount in your tank and automatically notify the supplier when it needs topped up.
  • As a fossil fuel, LPG produces carbon dioxide when it’s burned so it is not considered a clean source of energy.

Oil Central Heating System

Oil fired central heating system

Oil fired central heating system

Heating oil is normally used in a wet heating system, where an oil fired boiler heats the water, then produces central heating through the radiators and hot water to the taps in your house.

Heat only and combination condensing oil fired boilers are available. Most oil fired combi boilers have an internal hot water store to supply hot water, rather than the instantaneous heating more commonly found in gas combination boilers.

Annual cost of heating oil

The average annual cost for heating and hot water using heating oil is around £552, when consuming around 12,000 kWh of gas annually.

Pros:

  • Oil is a very efficient fuel type, so you get a good return on the units of energy you use. Although modern condensing boilers are now 90% or more efficient. Replacing a standard oil boiler with a highly efficient modern condensing boiler is reasonably simple and heating oil can be an inexpensive way to heat your home.

Cons:

  • The price of heating oil can fluctuate, with sudden increases caused by surges in demand the weather conditions or political unrest.
  • Oil boilers generally limit your hot water flow rate to make sure that the water is as hot as it should be. This means the hot water flow is lower than it would be with a gas combi system.
  • Oil produces carbon dioxide when it’s burned so it can’t be thought of as a clean source of energy. The government plans to remove high carbon fuel heating systems, such as oil boilers in the 2020’s.

Visit our heating section for additional information.