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You will also learn about the different option every heating system provides.
Keeping you warm while you keep your energy bills low means that how you heat your home is important.
When considering costs there are a number of factors that affect the cost of your heating:
With renewable energy sources now more accessible and cost efficient, introducing a cleaner energy source into you home heating system is also worth considering, especially given the government incentives currently available in the UK.
Whether you’re installing a heating system in a new build or looking to replace an old and likely costly heating system, we have reviewed all of the home heating systems currently on the market in the UK, what types of homes they are right for and weighed up the pros and cons for you.
The most common system in the UK is mains gas central heating although not all homes are connected to the national gas grid. Gas has been up until now, considered the cheapest option if your house is connected as its generally considered a lot cheaper to heat water using gas than electricity. It is called a ‘wet system’ because a gas-fired boiler heats water that is then distributed around the home through radiators and to the hot water taps.
The average annual cost of using gas for heating and hot water in the UK is £542 based on an annual usage of around 12,000 kWh per year (as calculated by Ofgem- typical domestic consumption values TDCV in Jan 2020) but can range between 8,000 and 17,000 kWh).
Pros of gas central heating:
Cons of gas central heating:
Alternatives to gas: are electric, LPG and heating oil which work in a similar way.
Liquid Petroleum Gas or LPG is a heating system usually used in ‘wet’ systems where an LPG-run boiler heats water which is then distributed around the home through radiators. LPG heating relies on the fuel being delivered to your home and storage is outdoors such as the garden.
The price of LPG fluctuates more than heating oil or gas, with LPG in general costing slightly less on average. The annual cost of heating your home and hot water using LPG is £796 based on an average consumption of 12,000 kWh based on current domestic-fuel prices (Ofgem).
Because LPG is a fossil fuel it is therefore not considered a clean source of energy. However, LPG is a highly efficient fuel and modern condensing boilers can achieve much higher efficiencies than a standard LPG boiler which help cut your carbon emissions and costs.
Pros of LPG central heating:
Cons of LPG central heating:
If your home is not connected to the National gas grid, then perhaps you are using an electric heating system or considering one. Here are some different ways of using electricity to heat your home, bearing in mind that some electric options are more costly than others.
Storage heaters that ‘store’ heat are the most common electric heating systems especially in apartments and flats, generally smaller spaces, and have been around since the 1960´s.
This method uses electricity supplied at night time and at a cheaper rate to heat heat-retaining ceramic bricks that store the heat and then release it slowly during the following day heating the space inside your home. Some storage heaters can be turned on during the day when needed but obviously at a cost.
All new electric heaters are now more cost effective than they used to be and must, by law, come with:
Storage heaters can vary in price with most costing upwards of £200 with newest models having built in thermostats and include digital programmers, open window sensors, electronic room controls and wi-fi remote controls.
High heat-retention storage heaters are also available and retain heat up to 45% for as long as 24 hours. Prices for more energy efficient and modern storage heaters however can be up to £800 per heater.
Electric radiators are probably the least cost-effective way to heat your home as they work with standard electricity tariffs and can be turned on and off manually. However if you have a very well-insulated property and don’t have to use them regularly or only in certain rooms of your house then could work for you.
An immersion heater is a bit like a large kettle, it’s an electric heating system with a metal loop or coil that sits inside a hot water cylinder heating water that is then distributed around the home. The immersion is connected to the mains electricity and can be switched on and off by timer or thermostatic control.
Most households will use a gas boiler for heating and hot water and have an immersion heater as a backup. Alternatively, immersion heating is mostly used in flats with no piped gas supply.
Pros: The temperature can be controlled by thermostat that will automatically turn on and off as needed, and an immersion can be well insulated to prevent unnecessary heat loss and keep water hot for hours.
Cons: Using electricity to heat hot water is more expensive than gas. An immersion heater uses three kilowatts of electricity per hour, on average 50p an hour or £360 per year.
The annual cost of electricity in the UK is around £776 for approximately 4,200 kWh on a single-rate tariff, about £200 more annually than gas. Cheaper night-time rates are available, which may be particularly more useful for electric heaters that are designed to be used at off-peak times of use.
Pros of an electric heating system:
Electric heating systems are generally much easier and cheaper to install than gas as they do not need pipework or a flue, compared to gas they are easier to maintain with no need for annual service and mains electricity is available across the UK. No need for carbon monoxide detectors or fuel leaks to worry about.
Cons of an electric heating system:
While both gas and electricity prices have increased over time, electricity prices are about three or four times higher than gas and are not likely to decrease any time soon. Around 40% of electricity in the UK is generated by gas in power stations, so increases in gas prices will affect the cost of electricity. If you are on a night-time tariff, your daytime rate might be higher than single rate tariffs so running appliances during the day could cost you more in the long run. Overall electricity is considered a less ecologically friendly choice than gas.
Around 1.1 million households in the UK are heated by oil which is usually used in a ’wet’ heating system where a boiler fueled by oil heats water that is then distributed via radiators around your home. Oil is delivered to your home by a supplier by road and stored outside in a tank which may have to be rented or bought from the supplier.
The annual cost of heating oil in the UK consuming around 17.000 KWh per year is £830, although this price can fluctuate, and prices tend to be higher in the winter.
Pros of oil heating:
Cons of oil heating:
Plans to phase out the installation of high carbon fossil fuel heating in new and existing off the gas grid homes is outlined in the government’s 2018 Clean Growth Strategy. By 2025 new homes will have to use low-carbon heating but homes with existing oil systems can continue to use it. The Federation of Petroleum Suppliers says that current oil systems would work with low-carbon liquid or bio-fuel which is set to be introduced as a solution for off-grid homes.
With gas and electricity prices on the rise, switching to renewable heating in your home could be the right move towards a more efficient and environmentally friendly future for your home heating system. Renewable energy is a source that is constantly being replenished such as wind, water or sun.
Renewable systems include:
A government scheme called the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) pays for homeowners to install renewable heating system and thus reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Renewable systems can seem expensive to install upfront but it´s important to take the long term view as the time to make your money back on the investment will come down.
Biomass or wood heating system uses organic material such as wood pellets, chips or logs in a wood burning stove to generate heat and hot water when also connected to a boiler.
Most stove owners use them in conjunction with other central heating systems when only heat for one room is needed. If used with a ‘back boiler’ the whole home can be heated as well as the hot water.
Stoves are not entirely ‘green’ as they do produce pollutants but can be eligible for Renewable Heat Incentive payments if installed with a boiler and fuel is bought from an eligible supplier.
Solar panels use the power of sunlight to generate electricity. Mostly used by homeowners to generate electricity to power appliances around the home rather than your heating system. However, it is possible to divert any excess electricity you have generated to an immersion heater to heat your hot water too.
Most of the electricity can only be generated during sunshine periods, particularly an advantage if you have a mainly south-facing roof, however this is not likely to coincide with when you need heating. On a positive note, solar heating systems qualify for the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme.
Air source and ground source heat pumps use naturally occurring heat in the air or ground to heat water pumped through pipes that then heat your home and provide hot water.
An electricity source is still needed to power the heat pump but still cost less to run than some other systems and can help lower your carbon footprint as it uses a renewable, natural source of heat from the ground.
Installation can be disruptive and is expensive, typically between £10,000 to £18,000 but you can get financial aid towards the cost of a ground source heat pump.
Infrared heating is a customized heating solution that is cost and energy efficient using relatively new technology, at least in its application to domestic properties in the UK.
In fact, it is likely that you have been in a room heated by infrared but have not quite realized it. Its efficiency and potential to reduce your energy bills make it a serious consideration by homeowners as a home heating system for the future. In the advent of the search for more green technologies, infrared heating is starting to appear high on the list of heating options.
Infrared heating panels are highly efficient, effective and a healthier way to heat your home. Instead of heating the surrounding air, as does conventional heating, infrared is a form of radiant heating that directly warms objects and people in the room, via infrared radiation waves, much in the same way the infrared rays from the sun feel warm on our skin. Infrared light isn’t visible, nor does it contain UV light but it gets absorbed by our skin and any objects directly in front of it.
Panels are undoubtedly more stylish and can have additional functions around your home as they come with different finishes, radiators can include:
Pros of infrared heating:
Cons of infrared heating:
In summary, infrared heating panels are the cheapest type of heater to run, with almost no maintenance required.
For a totally renewable energy solution for your home, infrared heaters can be powered by solar panels. The heat generated is gentle and won’t be affected by open windows or draughts. The panels can be discreet or add a stylish touch to your home décor all the while providing you with cost effective home heating needs.