The benefits of electric heating may look attractive, but is it a viable option for your property?
There’s no denying that gas boilers are taking their toll on the environment, causing many people to look for more sustainable ways to heat their homes.
According to the Guardian, heating is the largest single source of carbon emissions in the UK and the government are under pressure to reduce the number of gas boilers being installed in new homes from 2025.
If this is the case, why are more people not heating their homes using greener electric power? Let’s take a look at the differences between gas and electric heating and find out why electric heating is still so uncommon.
Gas boilers vs electric heaters: what are the differences?
Gas central heating uses a centrally located gas boiler to burn gas to produce hot water. This hot water is then pumped through the property’s pipework and used in hot water taps and to heat radiators.In comparison, electric heating is usually provided using multiple electric appliances that all operate independently from each other. Electric heating systems and appliances can take many different forms including:
- Electric radiators
- Fan heaters
- Storage heaters
- Bar heaters
- Electric boilers
- Electric underfloor heating
Electric heating appliances are powered using electricity from a property’s mains supply.
It is possible to buy both gas boilers and electric heaters with smart technology that allows you to programme when they switch on and off each day, improving convenience and energy efficiency.
The benefits of electric heaters
Electric heating has several key advantages over gas boilers.
Appliances are affordable – A new gas boiler is likely to set you back thousands of pounds when you factor in installation costs. This is because gas boilers are expensive and installing all the pipework they require can be a big, messy job. In comparison, electric heaters generally don’t require installation, or if they do, it is usually a much simpler process, making the initial cost of electric heating appliances cheaper than installing a new gas boiler.
More energy efficient – Electric heating wins hands down when it comes to energy efficiency. When you pay for 1kW of electricity, you receive 1kW of heat. Gas boilers can vary in efficiency depending on the type and model of boiler you choose, but they are never 100% energy efficient. As of 2018, legislation has meant that all new boilers must be at least 92% efficient, but some of the older makes and models of boiler can be very inefficient.
More environmentally friendly – Currently, about 40% of the electricity we use at home is generated using gas in a process that produces greenhouse gasses. This means that even heating your home using electricity isn’t completely eco-friendly. It is however much better for the environment than using a gas boiler and making the switch would help to reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
Less maintenance – Electric heating appliances are less complicated than gas boilers and contain fewer moving parts, making them easier and cheaper to maintain and less likely to go wrong and break down than a gas boiler. Slime and sludge can build up in radiators and pipework in central heating systems over the years, this can reduce the efficiency of the system if it is not flushed out by a professional.
Safer – Electric heating systems are very simple and safe compared to gas boilers. If you fail to maintain your boiler or it becomes faulty, then you are at risk of dangerous carbon monoxide gas leaking out into your home. Every house with a gas boiler should always have a carbon monoxide alarm installed to detect any problems. Gas boilers also work by heating water that is pumped through pipework in your house, this means there is a small risk that these pipes could burst, causing water damage to your home.
The problems with electric heaters
If they’re better for the environment, cheaper to install, and more energy-efficient, why are more people not adopting electric heating for their homes?
Unfortunately, there are several reasons why electric heating is still not a viable option for many households.
Cost to run – The main problem with electric heaters is the cost of electricity. According to the greenage, in the UK, the cost of electricity is 10-15p/kWh and the cost of gas is just 3.5-4p/kWh. Electric heaters are considerably more expensive to run than gas boilers, sometimes costing up to three times more to power. On average, it is estimated to cost about £304 a year to heat a small 1-2 bedroom house with gas, but the same house would cost £1,152 to heat with electricity.
Cost to set up the whole house – Whilst a single electric heater may not cost very much on its own, to keep an entire house comfortably warm, you would need to invest in a lot of electrical heating appliances. In very large or cold rooms this may mean installing more expensive large electric radiators or underfloor electric heating systems.
Cost to insulate – Electric heaters are extremely energy efficient but very expensive to run. If you’re heating your home with electric heaters, you’ll want to ensure that you’re retaining as much of the heat that they’re producing as possible. Most houses aren’t sufficiently insulated to keep the heat from an electric heater in and insulating your property’s walls and floors could cost thousands of pounds.
Electric heaters have many benefits and are certainly a good heating solution in some circumstances. An electric heater can be useful if you need an extra heat source that can be moved around within your property. They also provide a simple solution to those that live off the grid, or for rooms that are not connected to the mains central heating. Electric heaters tend to be more common in countries where the temperature does not drop too low, and heating is not used regularly.
Here in the UK, electric heating systems are not usually the most cost-effective option for heating a whole property if gas is readily available.
Homes that do use electric heating can benefit from installing smart electric appliances that can be programmed to run at the ideal temperature and switch on and off at the most cost-effective times to improve efficiency and reduce energy bills.
However, the heating industry is in for a shakeup over the next 30 years as the UK must reduce household emissions from heating and hot water by 95% to meet the 2050 net-zero target.
There’s no doubt that the heating industry needs to change and adapt to offer households more affordable and environmentally-friendly solutions, so watch this space, perhaps electric heating solutions will be made more affordable in the coming years.
Heating advice from Range Heating
Here at Range Heating, we design and install a wide range of different heating and hot water systems and can advise you on the best system for your property and requirements. For further help or advice, give our team a call on 07872 105 094 or email email@example.com and we’ll be happy to help.