Central heating systems in the UK are vital for comfort and quality of life with our chilly weather and cold nights compared to other countries. Heating bills are inevitable, but it pays to have a heating system that brings the most warmth for your money.
There are many different fuel sources and systems available, from electricity to gas, and LPG (liquid petroleum gas) and heating oil. For most of us, the cheapest heating system is going to be mains gas-fuelled, but if you’re living off the grid, LPG is likely the most cost-effective heating option.
In this article, we’ll be explaining:
- What the cheapest and most efficient heating system is
- What affects the cost of heating your home
- How to save money and reduce your energy bills
- What’s involved in fitting a new heating system
- How to find and hire a heating engineer
If you’re considering switching your energy supply to something else, or are moving to a property with an energy type you’re not used to, keep reading to find out exactly what it means for you, both in terms of warmth and cost.
What Is The Cheapest and Most Efficient Heating System?
Here are some estimated annual running costs for different heating systems using the UK’s gathered averages:
|FUEL SOURCE||COST PER /KWH||AVERAGE ANNUAL COSTS (BASED ON A MEDIUM-SIZED HOUSE)||STANDING CHARGES||TOTAL ANNUAL COST|
|Electric||28.34p||£987.42||45.34p per day||£1384.21|
|Mains Gas||7.37p||£983.15||27.22p per day||£1351.40|
|Heating Oil||£1 per litre||£1,700||£87.60||£1,700|
|LPG||74p per litre||£800||£87.60||£800|
With the recent energy price hikes, fuel costs have risen considerably in the past few months. This means that previously ‘cheap’ heating options may not be the case anymore, and vice versa.
If you’re willing to swallow large installation costs, and then reclaim them slowly through subsidies, heat pumps are a great choice. But make sure your home is very well insulated to make the best savings. You could save £475 to £2,000 over conventional electric heating.
Electric radiators are 100% efficient when it comes to transforming electrical energy to heat. In comparison, gas comes in at 90%.
The most efficient heating system is electric as it heats evenly and quickly, and currently costs around 28.34 pence per kWh. This gives an average cost of £987.42 per year for a medium-sized house.
Mains gas is a natural resource and isn’t environmentally friendly. It currently costs around 7.37 pence per kWh, totalling £983.15 per year for a medium-sized house.
If you are looking for alternatives to mains gas, you may be amongst the 15% of the UK that does not have access to mains pipes. Thankfully, you can still use a conventional gas heating system and then use LPG as a fuel source.
This mixture of butane and propane is compressed into liquid form and stored in tanks or bottles. This allows for large amounts of fuel to be stored between refills – you will have to arrange for an LPG tanker to come and refill your tank as needed.
LPG is safe to use, provides similar heating characteristics to mains gas and is a reliable source so long as you receive deliveries in time. LPG is currently around 74p per litre, giving an annual cost of around £800.
Heating oil is another choice that is considered instead of LPG. The installation process is more specialised and expensive, and this system also requires far more maintenance to continue operating efficiently.
This fuel type has seen a huge price hike recently, going to as much as £1 per litre. If you buy the fuel off-season (such as in summer when you need less), you can potentially get better deals, but at £1 per litre, you’ll be looking at annual costs of around £1,700.
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What Affects the Cost of Heating My Home?
There are a few factors that’ll impact the cost of keeping your home sufficiently heated throughout the cooler months. We take a closer look at these factors below so you know what to keep in mind when it comes to setting a budget.
If You Have Effective Insulation
If you have poor insulation in your house, your energy will leak out – no matter how high you have your thermostat.
You are essentially wasting money on heating if you have a poorly-insulated property, either in loft cavities or in single-glazed windows.
To make your home heat-efficient, it’s best to tackle these problems before investing in a new boiler to heat your home, as you’ll just be ignoring the problems that need solving – and no amount of new boilers will help that.
If Your Boiler and Radiators Run Correctly
If your home is properly insulated, but your home still isn’t retaining heat as much as you’d like, the next step is to look at your heating systems – your boiler and your radiators.
Bleeding your radiators will rid the item of air bubbles that will stop the hot water from flowing freely into the radiators and distributing heat – this is why you get cold patches in radiators, and why they’re a useful indicator for proving there’s an issue with the product.
If you haven’t been maintaining your boiler properly since fitting, either with regular servicing or by having a magnaclean fitted from the beginning, your boiler may be suffering from being blocked up with debris and gunge.
Whatever the cause, it’s best to check your appliances thoroughly before opting to do any drastic changes – like fitting a brand new boiler without properly assessing the situation. Bleeding a radiator or cleaning a boiler is a lot less costly than fitting a brand new one.
The Type of Fuel Heating Your Home
The type of energy you choose to heat your home with will affect the cost of heating your home – as we’ve shown in the table above.
While you can’t always choose your heating style – if you live off the grid, for example, you may only be able to choose from electricity and LPG – you can choose cost-effective providers with discounts to make sure your energy is working for you.
How Can I Save Money and Reduce My Energy Bills?
Comparing quotes is a great way to potentially reduce the cost of your heating system. HouseholdQuotes can help you get quotes from multiple heating engineers near you, so that you can find someone that suits your budget.
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Ensuring your home is insulated will cut your costs – think of all the money you’ll save and all the heat you’ll keep inside instead of letting it go through your windows!
Similarly, keeping your heating equipment well-cared for and maintained will ensure stable energy bills, as you’re not having to hike up the temperature on your thermostat to achieve your desired ambience.
It is worth doing a bit of research into the other ways you can heat your house. One of the more unorthodox – but slowly growing in popularity – methods, is to consider installing ground source heat pumps.
Check out our article on the cost of installing them here, as well as ways you can potentially save money.
It’s also good to check if you’re able to take advantage of any money-saving schemes when it comes to your energy bills, especially in the winter months. There’s more information on that at this page.
Which Heating System Is Right For Me?
With so many heating types available, it can seem overwhelming to know which is the best choice for you. Let’s look at the main advantages and disadvantages of the options we’ve been covering so far.
|TYPE OF HEATING||ADVANTAGES||DISADVANTAGES|
|Electric||Less pollution than other options; easy to control; eliminates the risk of gas leaks; preserves natural resources||Can be more expensive than other options; slower heating time|
|Mains Gas||Convenient for most homes on the gas line; quick heating times; consistent and even heat distribution||Shorter lifespan compared to electric heating; needs a gas line to work; uses natural resources and isn’t environmentally=friendly|
|Heating Oil||Safer than gas heating; efficient; burns at a high temperature and therefore gives off more heat than other options||Maintenance is higher than other fuel types; prices can change quickly; oil tank needs refilling often|
|LPG||Carbon dioxide levels are lower than other fuel types; cleaner than other energy types; can increase heating efficiency||Is a hazardous material; low energy density meaning more is needed to heat sufficiently|
The advantages of electric is that it heats quickly and efficiently, but can be more expensive than other options. Gas is convenient for most, but is detrimental to the environment, and isn’t suitable for houses that aren’t on the gas line.
Heating oil is safer than gas heating, but you need to remember to refill your tank regularly. LPG is cleaner than other energy types, but it is a hazardous substance and requires proper maintenance.
What’s Involved in Fitting a New Heating System?
Electric boilers are great for smaller spaces as they don’t need flues or condensate pipes to get rid of waste gases. Installation is quick and far cheaper than that of other boiler types: more on combi boilers.
Gas Safe Engineers will check your home first to see the number of radiators you have, and the current position of your boiler. Then, it’ll just be a case of swapping out the old for the new, as long as your system doesn’t need modernising: more on gas boilers.
LPG is just the fuel type; your boiler is likely to still be classed as a combi boiler. You’ll have to have a trench dug to store the tank of gas underground, and then pipes connected to your boiler to give you your fuel supply: more on LPG boilers.
Unlike other boilers listed, an oil boiler is connected to an oil tank that heats water for your home on demand. It’s another good off-grid option and can last for 15 years if well-maintained: more on oil boilers.
How Do I Find and Hire a Heating Engineer?
Finding the right heating engineer can be challenging. At HouseholdQuotes, we can connect you to heating engineers in your area.
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Whichever heating system you choose to install, always ensure you employ a qualified professional, both for the installation and for maintenance.
Ensuring the Professional Is the Right Fit
You should always get a written quote and proposal from your trader before work starts, or money exchanges hands.
It’s best to seek out your trader’s experience, alongside any references or photos or videos of their previous work to make sure what they’re proposing is something they’re able to do, and of a standard, you will accept.
Finally, check they have insurance before agreeing for them to start work to make sure you’re not liable for anything you shouldn’t be.
Changing your energy can be daunting with so many options and cost implications. Here’s our final checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything important while undertaking this task:
- Find out what’s possible in your area – it’s no good considering an energy type if it’s practically impossible
- Speak to your neighbours: what fuel do they use, and is it something you’d consider?
- Make sure you find a trusted professional to carry out your work and have them on the Gas Safe Register if necessary
- Always obtain a written quotation before agreeing to any work or parting with money
- Make sure to make good any insulation insufficiencies in your home as this will make your new energy switch redundant
- Look forward to enjoying wintertime in a newly-snug home!
Use HouseholdQuotes to find local heating engineers and potentially save money on your new heating system.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does Renewable Energy Cost?
ive in England or Wales, you can also potentially save money by asking your installer to claim a grant under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
Launched in April 2022, this scheme replaces the Renewable Heat Incentive.The scheme is open to domestic and small non-domestic properties in England and Wales. It runs from 2022 to 2025. You can get:
- £5,000 off the cost and installation of an air source heat pump
- £5,000 off the cost and installation of a biomass boiler
- £6,000 off the cost and installation of a ground source heat pump
You can get one grant per property and you must have a MCS certified installer apply for the grant on your behalf.
For more information on the BUS scheme, take a look at the government page.
Is It Cheaper to Keep the Heating on Low All Day?
This is hotly contested, with different opinions and answers. We think that heating your home only when you need it is best, otherwise you run the risk of having the heating on constantly, getting used to it, and not ever having a change in the inside temperature of your home during times where it might be perfectly fine to have it a few degrees cooler.
Is It More Efficient to Use the Main Thermostat in My Home, or the Thermostat on Each Radiator?
It’s best to operate each radiator individually while having the general thermostat at a good temperature for your whole home. This way, if one room is smaller and retains the heat better, there’s no need for it to be as high as the general house temperature, and you can bring it down individually which will help to reduce your costs.
Similarly, if a room or rooms aren’t in use at your home, you can turn the radiator off as no one is there to need the heat.
Is a Combi Boiler Cheaper to Run Than a Conventional Boiler?
Combi boilers can be more cost-effective and heat-efficient than conventional boilers, which in turn will make them cheaper to run.
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