Heating your home can sometimes feel quite expensive, especially during winter.
Therefore, it's important to understand what different types of heating there are, how much they cost and the factors that can influence the amount you spend on heating.
3 mains types of heating
Standard central heating
This is the most popular type of heating system in the UK and probably one you are familiar with.
It involves a gas powered boiler that feeds hot water into a network of copper pipes around the home. The copper pipes are connected to your radiators and the hot water flows into the rads, in turn heating the home.
Rather than a series of pipes connected up to a gas powered boiler, an electric heating system involves electric radiators or storage heaters being plugged into the mains electrical system.
Each heat emitter contains an electric element which heats up the internal liquid, blocks or fins of the radiator, providing warmth into the room.
An electric heating system must be installed by a qualified electrician. However, it is much less disruptive than installation of a standard central heating system, as there is no pipework involved.
It's a popular choice for homes without access to the mains gas supply.
Duel fuel heating
This is usually a heating system that gets it's power from two different power sources.
In our business, we most commonly experience homes that power their heating in this manner with gas and electricity, though it can also include wind power, oil and ground source heat pumps.
We often see homes that have standard central heating systems but with duel fuel heated towel rails in bathrooms and kitchens. Having a duel fuel heated towel rail gives you the choice of having your towel rail come on with the rest of the central heating system, or independently using electricity.
This flexibility is particularly useful in summer when it is too hot for central heating, but you still need to dry your towels.
How much do they cost?
A modern combi gas boiler operates at about 90% efficiency, whereas an electric radiator is 100% efficient.
While you might be tempted to think that an electric heating system will therefore be cheaper to run, it's not that simple.
Though electric heating is more efficient, this is more than offset by the fact that gas is much cheaper than electricity.
One unit of mains gas costs around £0.04 per kWh.
One unit of electricity costs around £0.15 per kWh
Ways of keep heating costs down
There are other factors involved that can influence the cost of your heating bills, regardless of whether your heating is powered by gas or electricity.
Heat loss through walls and the roof is a large contributing factor to expensive heating bills. If you can install cavity wall and loft insulation, the money you'll save over the long term on heating bills will more than offset the upfront installation costs.
Correctly sized heaters
Whether using standard or electric radiators, making sure your rads emit enough heat for your room is a good way of keeping your costs down.
Using a radiator that is too small for your room, will mean it's constantly running on maximum and straining to heat your room. As the room never reaches a satisfactory temperature, you may turn up your heating controls to try and increase the heat, leading to increased power usage.
Use our heating calculator to make sure your rad is the right size for your room.
Downloading an app to control the temperature of your radiators can be a great way of making heating costs cheaper.
Micro-managing the heating in your home allows you the power to ensure that the heating isn't on a minute longer than it needs to be. being able to switch your heating on or off regardless of whether you're in or out gives you an incredible amount of control over your system
Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs)
For standard central heating systems, installing TRVs on your radiators is another way of keeping on top of your heating system. They will help to ensure you are not using unnecessary power once rooms hit their optimum temperature and can also be set to allow seldom-used rooms to not be heated up unnecessarily.
Annual Heating Maintenance
Electric heating requires very little maintenance, which can make it more attractive even though gas is cheaper.
However, if you have standard heating you should get a heating engineer around once a year to perform checks on your heating system. A poorly maintained heating system will perform far less efficiently and runs the risk of causing a boiler breakdown, something which is usually very expensive to repair.