How to Choose a New Heating System: From Boiler Grants to Electric Heating

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How you heat your home is extremely important. Not only will it keep you warm in the winter, but it will also help to ensure that your home is energy-efficient and your energy bills are as low as possible. Gas central heating is the most common type of heating in England, Scotland and Wales, while the majority of Northern Irish homes are heated using oil heating systems.

We know that having all these options available can make replacing your heating system confusing, particularly if you only have first-hand experience of one kind. The team here at UK Energy Management (NE) Ltd have come up with this guide to help you choose the best new heating system for your home.

House graphic

Gas central heating

If your property is connected to the national gas grid, a gas heating system is usually the most effective and efficient way to heat your home – and probably the cheapest option, too. There are several different types of boilers and, though many of us would probably recognise their names, we may not know exactly how each one works and what makes them different. Here’s a quick guide so you can decide which one’s right for you.

Combi boiler

Combi boilers are responsible for both heating and hot water, with the components for each contained within one single unit, making them great for properties with limited space. In a combi boiler system, hot water is heated up on demand rather than being stored ready for use, so it’s an efficient choice in terms of energy usage and cost. An added benefit is that the hot water is delivered at mains pressure, so you’re less likely to require a separate pump to boost your water pressure.

Combi boiler systems offer many advantages over other types of boilers, so they are now commonly installed in new buildings and are especially popular in flats and small houses due to their space-saving qualities.

System boiler

The main difference between combi boilers and system boilers is that the latter will require a hot water tank to store water. This means that a constant supply of hot water is possible, which makes these a useful feature in larger buildings and homes, properties with multiple bathrooms, or anywhere where a lot of hot water is needed.

Despite the need for a separate water storage tank, the major heating and hot water system components are built into the boiler itself, making system boilers fairly quick and easy to install. There is also no need for a tank to be stored in the loft, so it can be a great option for homes with little or no loft space or where the loft has been or is soon to be converted.

System boilers are also compatible with solar water heating systems, which offer environmental benefits as well as lower energy bills.

Conventional boiler

Conventional boilers (sometimes known as traditional, regular or heat-only boilers) are best suited to homes that already have a heating and hot water system which is linked to a separate hot water cylinder – such as a system boiler. Conventional boilers require a cold water storage tank in the loft to feed the hot water cylinder, as well as another tank that maintains the water level of the central heating system.

A conventional boiler may be the best option for properties with older radiator systems, as they might not be able to cope with the higher water pressure that is delivered by system or combi boilers.

Electric central heating

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

The most cost-effective form of electric central heating uses night storage heaters, which use electricity supplied at a cheaper night-time rate to heat up heat-retaining ceramic bricks. These bricks then heat your home around the clock using the heat stored inside them. While it’s a more cost-effective option, it also means that your home can become cold in the evenings, as the bricks start to run out of stored heat.

Alternatively, storage heaters allow you to access immediate heat at any time of day. Modern storage heaters come with all sorts of features that help you tailor your electric heating system to your needs and boost energy efficiency. These include:

● Thermostats

● Remote Wi-Fi controls

● Programmable timers

● Fans to disseminate the heat

● Open window detectors

High heat retention storage heaters can retain more heat than traditional models, which reduces the likelihood of your home becoming cold in the evenings. You can also fit electric radiators that are compatible with standard electricity tariffs and will allow you to heat your home on demand, at any time of day. This can be costly though, depending on your tariff.

Solar heating

Solar heating is a very effective way to heat up your home and by far the best choice if you want to reduce your carbon footprint and do your bit for the planet.

Solar heating gets the majority of its energy from the sun, eliminating the need for natural gas or electricity. It is therefore a pollution-free and carbon-neutral heating system, once installed. Solar heating systems use mechanical or electric equipment to convert or produce solar energy into heat. They can also produce electrical power, which is stored ready to be used whenever you need it.

Solar heating systems should last for more than 20 years, making them a very cost-effective option in the long run despite potentially costly installation.

Gas heaters

Using gas heaters is a very common choice for smaller households, as natural gas heaters can heat small spaces fairly efficiently. However, they should be checked and serviced every few years, as they can become dangerous when faulty or past their best.

There are two types of gas heaters:

● Flued (vented)

● Unflued (unvented)

One of the benefits of using a flued gas heater is that no extra ventilation will be required. However, their efficiency is not quite as good as unflued gas heaters because of the heat being discharged through the flue. Flued gas heaters can also be more expensive to install and set up. Unflued heaters are more energy efficient because they do not lose heat through a vent in the way that a flued gas heater does.

Heat pumps

This type of heating system is a very energy-efficient option and it produces heat without using fossil fuels. Heat pumps work in a simple way: an electric pump produces heat taken from the air or the ground. They can also be used as an air conditioner during warmer periods by drawing cool air from their surroundings.

They are considered an environmentally-friendly option because they rely on renewable energy sources. However, one of their best features, apart from being non-polluting, is that they are easy and relatively inexpensive to install.

Underfloor heating

Underfloor heating brings various benefits to the table. It contributes almost nothing to energy loss, it warms spaces equally, it’s flexible in terms of its energy source and it avoids disrupting or blowing around allergens and mites, which forced-air heating does not. However, this type of heating is also one of the most tricky to install and it costs more than most other types.

ECO grants for boilers and electric heating

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme was launched in 2013 to help low-income, fuel poor, and/or vulnerable households cut their energy costs through home improvements. This scheme is currently in its third incarnation, ECO3, but will be entering its fourth and final phase, ECO4, on 1 April 2022. The energy efficiency measures that can be installed under the ECO3 scheme include internal and external wall insulation, loft insulation, a replacement heating system, and a new boiler. Other measures may qualify, subject to review by Ofgem and other relevant parties.

The new ECO4 scheme will have a limit of 5,000 boilers that can be installed using the funding, and there will be additional rules about which types of boilers qualify under ECO4. This means that very few households will be eligible for grants for new boilers or replacement gas boilers once the new rules come into effect. If you’re in need of funding for a replacement gas boiler, get in touch with UK Energy Management (NE) Ltd today to secure your funding before it’s too late.

Certain eligibility criteria must be met in order to qualify for the ECO scheme, one of which is being in receipt of specific benefits. If you’re in need of assistance but don’t receive benefits, don’t give up hope just yet – there is a Local Authority Flexible Eligibility scheme that allows for broader qualifying criteria.

As well as helping you secure the funding you need, UK Energy Management (NE) Ltd can also assist with the installation of the energy efficiency measures covered by the ECO scheme. Our highly skilled technicians will be happy to install various insulation and heating systems, as well as providing storage heaters and performing cavity wall extractions where necessary.

Are You Eligible for an ECO3 Boiler Replacement? Contact UK Energy Management (NE) Ltd Today

If you think you’re eligible for an electric heating grant or a replacement gas boiler under the ECO scheme, UK Energy Management (NE) Ltd can help. We take pride in helping people secure the financial support they need, and our experienced technicians will be happy to install all the necessary upgrades to make your home as energy efficient as can be. For more information on how we can help you, or to check your eligibility for the ECO scheme, contact us today.

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