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There are several different central heating choices for homes in the UK. Depending on the area you live in, you may be able to choose from oil, gas or electricity to find the most economical and reliable option for you. With energy prices increasing each year, and these price rises looking set to continue, it’s more important than ever to choose an efficient way to heat our homes. Modern central heating can save lots of money on monthly fuel bills compared to older, less efficient options.

Different Types of Central Heating

Gas Central Heating

Gas-fired central heating is usually the cheapest option available in most parts of the country, however, your property must be connected to the national gas grid. Some homes in the UK, particularly in rural areas, are not connected to the gas grid, so gas is not an option. Despite this, the majority of homes are connected, and as a result, gas central heating is the most commonly used heating system in the country.  Gas central heating is known as a ‘wet system’, which means that a gas boiler heats water through radiators and hot water through taps throughout the home. The average annual costs for gas central heating and hot water in a three bedroom, semi-detached well insulated house are approximately £770 for condensing boilers and £947 for old non-condensing boilers.

The advantages of gas central heating include a good return on energy units, high efficiency and no need to store any fuel at your property. As it is the most common form of energy, it’s also straightforward to find a Gas Safe registered engineer to service and maintain your boiler. Disadvantages, however, include rising gas prices, and installation costs for gas central heating can be extremely high. In addition, gas is a traditional ‘fossil fuel’ and is not considered a clean energy source, and gas boilers will need to be serviced regularly to ensure that they are safe.

Find out more about gas central heating.

Around 3.6 million households in the UK are not connected to the national gas grid so they have to rely on other forms of central heating, which use electricity, liquid petroleum gas, oil and/or renewable energies to heat their homes.

Electric Central Heating

Nearly every household in the UK has access to the national electricity grid, so electric central heating is a viable option for most people. The most common type, and most cost-effective type of electric central heating, is through night storage heaters. These heaters take advantage of cheaper night time electricity rates and use heat-retaining bricks to store heat overnight to emit during the day. These heaters use special electricity tariffs known as either Economy 7 or Economy 10 to keep costs down. There are also standard electric central heating options which use standard tariffs but these are more expensive. The average annual cost for electric central heating in a typical three bedroom, semi-detached, well insulated property is around £1,700 for standard electric central heating.

The advantages of electric central heating include lower installation costs when compared to gas, there is also less maintenance and servicing required, so ongoing costs tend to be lower, and it is available to almost every home in the UK. Disadvantages include higher energy prices, and less control over how much heat is emitted.

Find out more about electric central heating.

LPG Central Heating

Liquid Petroleum Gas, known as LPG, is a viable heating option for the 3.6 million UK households that are not connected to the mains gas network. LPG is known as a ‘wet system’ which means that an LPG-fired boiler heats water through radiators to provide heating and heats hot water through taps in the home. Although LPG works in a similar way to gas, the main difference is that LPG is delivered by road and is stored in a tank, which may have to be bought or rented from an LPG supplier. The annual fuel cost for LPG in a typical three bedroom, semi-detached, insulated property is around £1,300.

The main advantage of LPG central heating is that it is a highly efficient type of fuel, which provides a good return on each energy unit. Disadvantages of LPG central heating are that prices are rising, similar to gas and electricity, and also as the fuel is delivered there is the chance that it could run out before the next delivery. It is also expensive and disruptive to install an LPG storage tank.

Oil Central Heating

Oil central heating is a possible heating option for homes without access to the mains gas network. Oil central heating is similar to gas in that it is a ‘wet system’ and uses an oil-fired boiler to heat water and provide heating through radiators. However, similar to LPG, oil central heating requires the oil to be stored in a tank and to be delivered by road from a supplier. The average annual fuel cost for oil central heating is around £1,100 for a three bedroom, semi-detached insulated house.

Oil central heating’s main advantage is that is it highly efficient and provides a good return on each unit of energy used. Disadvantages of oil central heating include rising oil prices, similar to gas and electricity, and as deliveries are relied upon there is a possibility that you could run out of fuel. This is a particular concern for rural properties which may be inaccessible in bad weather conditions. It is also expensive and disruptive to install an oil storage tank. Oil central heating is also a fossil fuel, so is considered an unclean energy source.

Renewable Energy

As the need to be more environmentally friendly, to combat climate change, becomes an everyday part of our lives, the choice of renewable energy heating options is becoming more and more accessible to UK households. These low or zero carbon technologies, such as solar water heating systems, biomass boilers and heat pumps, allow you to generate your own energy at home with less impact on the environment than traditional heating methods such as gas and oil. In addition to reducing your home’s carbon footprint, by using renewable energy sources, you’ll be less vulnerable to rising energy prices in the future.

Although renewable energy systems are expensive to install, with the rising cost of oil, gas and electricity, in the long term it may be more cost effective to have a renewable energy source. The UK Government also offers financial incentives for householders wishing to install renewable energy options.

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