Alternative to Gas Boilers: A Guide to other Available Heating Options
Heating your home and water using a traditional gas boiler system, accounts for up to 75% of your home energy bills. This is a large percentage of your home’s monthly budget and one which you probably didn’t even realise.
There are over 20 million gas boilers in use in the U.K., and we’d bet that a large percentage of these users aren’t even aware of some of the fantastic alternatives.
Gas Boiler Alternatives can be far more efficient, last longer (with less part replacement), and more importantly save you money!
You could be here because you’ve bought or are looking to buy a property that isn’t connected to the main gas grid. You may therefore need a gas boiler alternative and we’re here to present you with a number of choices.
It really comes down to two questions. Do you want a different kind of boiler system as you’re not connected to the grid? And, do you want a renewable heating alternative for your home?
Let’s first look at the gas boiler alternatives:
It isn’t only gas which can supply the fuel to heat your home and hot water. There are other alternatives which each have their own pros and cons.
Electric boilers are exactly as they sound, they are similar to gas boilers however they use an electric heating element.
Electric boilers are more efficient and compact, as well as cheaper to install than gas boiler systems. However, the cost to run the boiler per KWH is 3 times more than gas so you could be looking at much higher energy bills with an electric boiler.
They are also suited for small properties and apartments as they cannot heat as much water as a gas boiler system.
LPG boilers are similar to natural gas boilers, but differ in the fact that the LPG gas is stored locally in tanks and not delivered through a piping system. Some gas boilers can be adapted to LPG which can save you in new boiler installation costs.
LPG is considered to be more environmentally friendly than mains supplied gas, and the cost to run is comparable. If you live in an area without mains gas supply, then perhaps consider an LPG boiler system to match the performance and cost of a traditional gas boiler.
Oil boilers are becoming more and more popular over the past few years. They are now second to natural gas boilers and a good choice for those without a traditional mains supply.
The boilers themselves are similarly priced to gas boilers and manufacturers such as Viessmann and Worcester-Bosch have high performing oil boilers available for installation.
The oil itself can be stored on your property like LPG and Viessmann modern oil condensing boilers are quite efficient and economical. In fact, they have an unbeaten efficiency of 98% relative to the gross calorific value.
Biomass boilers are a category wedged between renewable, green alternatives, and gas alternative boilers. They work in much the same way as traditional boilers do, however they burn biological material such as wood pellets, logs, and chips.
They are considered a green alternative, as they release less carbon into the atmosphere during burning than the carbon released from burning gas or oil.
You can have a manual feeding biomass boiler, or an automatic feeding biomass boiler. The manual one you will have to keep feeding new biomass material for burning, whereas the automatic feeder will feed itself more biomass when needed.
The automatic biomass boilers are larger and take up more space than the manual boilers so bear this in mind when looking into these types of boilers.
They also take a lot of maintenance and cleaning as the burning of biomass generates ash and creosote.
Renewable Gas Boiler Alternatives:
Renewable heating system alternatives fuel themselves from renewable energy such as the sun, wind, air, and ground.
Being sustainable and renewable, you don’t have to wait for a gas delivery, biomass delivery, or worry about the increase in mains gas pricing as they are never going to run out of air or ground heat.
Types of Renewable Systems:
Ground Heat Pump Systems:
Ground source heat pumps mix antifreeze and water which then gets circulated around a loop of pipe called a ground loop. These ground loops are buried in your garden where they collect the heat from the ground and absorb it into the fluid mixture.
This heated fluid mixture then goes through a heat exchanger and into a heat pump. The ground temperature is constant throughout the year so this means it can always be used no matter the weather outside.
The use of these however require space in your garden to dig a loop, or a large deep borehole to be drilled to access heat further down.
Air Heat Pump Systems:
Air source heat pumps are similar to refrigerators and air conditioners but they expel heat and not cold air.
They look similar to air conditioning systems as well, and the large fan takes in outside air, extracts the warmth from the air, heats it and delivers it to the home.
They can be used for large homes with many radiators so they can be a good alternative to a traditional boiler.
Solar Thermal Systems:
Solar panels can be used not only for electricity generation, but also for heating water.
The type of panel for solar water heating will be filled with tubes of fluid , darkly painted or coating in Photo-voltaic compounds which will heat the water. It will then be additionally warmed in a heat exchanger and pumped into a cylinder.
This can work well however will not be as efficient during cloudy periods. It will still work in most weather conditions however the hot water provided may be insufficient for a family home.
What do gas boiler alternatives cost?
Although there are many brands and types of boilers available, we have a rough average guide below to help you decide further. Prices exclude installation:
Electric Boilers: £1395-£2800
LPG Boilers: £400-£2,500
Oil Boilers: £1,700-£2,700
Biomass Boilers: £4,000-£20,000
Ground Source Pump: £7,000 – £12,000
Air Heat Source Pump: £5,000-£10,000
Solar Thermal System: £3,000-£5,000
What about comparable fuel costs?
Here’s an average fuel cost guide as of April 2020* The figures are accurate to +-8%.
Natural Gas: 3.8p/KWH
Even though there are some wonderful new options when it comes to renewable energy and gas boiler alternatives, the cost implications mean that gas boilers come out on top.
This is due to the higher efficiency in new boiler systems. This and the warranties offered, as well as the lower cost of natural gas, which means we can recommend a new gas boiler system for most individuals.
If you’re in the market for a new boiler then we can recommend the viessmann boiler systems for gas and oil. Boiler Central is offering a 15 year warranty on all new boiler installations as well as affordable boiler cover which can cover most boiler systems you may have currently.
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