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Last updated: 13th June, 2024

Guides

Electric Central Heating Boiler

Electric Central Heating Boiler

Key takeaways

  • Electric boilers are eco-friendly and produce zero on-site emissions.
  • They are easy to install and require minimal maintenance.
  • Running costs can be higher than gas boilers but offer sustainable heating options.

Electric boilers are eco-friendly and produce zero on-site emissions.^ They are easy to install and require minimal maintenance.^ Running costs can be higher than gas boilers but offer sustainable heating options.

Electric central heating boilers are becoming increasingly popular in the UK due to their efficiency and simplicity. These boilers work by using electricity to heat water, which then circulates through your home to provide warmth.

One of the key benefits is that electric boilers produce zero on-site carbon emissions, making them an eco-friendly option for homeowners.

Installing an electric boiler is fairly straightforward and often requires less space compared to gas boilers. They connect directly to your central heating system and can be paired with renewable energy sources, like solar panels, to enhance their sustainability further.

While they might have higher running costs than gas boilers, their lower installation costs and minimal maintenance needs are attractive to many UK homeowners.

While electric boilers do offer many advantages, it's essential to weigh these against the drawbacks. They might be more expensive to run over time, especially if electricity prices are high. However, for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save space, electric boilers present a reliable and environmentally friendly heating solution.

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Installation and Running Costs

Electric central heating boilers offer both ease of installation and unique cost dynamics. It’s vital to understand these aspects to make an informed decision.

Initial Outlay for Electric Boiler Installation

Installing an electric boiler can be straightforward. Electric boilers do not require flue pipes or a gas connection, simplifying the process.

This often leads to lower installation costs compared to gas or oil boilers.

Typical installation costs range from £500 to £1,500, depending on the complexity and specific requirements of the home.

In smaller homes/flats, space-saving units like electric combi boilers are popular.

However, larger homes may need more powerful systems, potentially increasing costs.

Overall, the initial outlay for an electric boiler can be cost-effective and less invasive.

Running Costs Comparison

Running costs for electric boilers are influenced mainly by the price of electricity.

Electricity in the UK costs approximately 14.37p per kWh, markedly higher than gas, which is around 3.8p per kWh.

Even with high efficiency ratings (99-100%), electric boilers often result in higher energy bills due to the cost of electricity.

By contrast, heat pumps can be more cost-effective, often boasting efficiencies above 100% because they generate more heat than the input energy.

Economy 7 tariffs can help reduce costs by taking advantage of lower night-time electricity rates, but practical feasibility varies based on lifestyle and heating needs.

Factors Affecting Costs

Several factors influence both the initial and running costs of an electric boiler.

The size of the home plays a significant role, with larger homes demanding more powerful and potentially more expensive systems.

The efficiency of the boiler also impacts running costs. High-efficiency models, while costlier upfront, can save money in the long run by using less electricity.

Additionally, integrating renewable energy sources, like solar panels, can offset electricity costs and make your heating more eco-friendly.

Lastly, utility rates and tariff options such as Economy 7 can significantly affect monthly energy bills.

Choosing the right system requires careful balancing of these factors to optimise both installation and running costs.

Understanding Electric Central Heating Boilers in the UK

Electric central heating boilers are a key solution for homes looking for an efficient and eco-friendly way to heat their space and water. They offer several types and notable comparisons to traditional gas and oil-fired boilers.

How Electric Central Heating Boilers Work

Electric central heating boilers use electricity to heat water for radiators, taps, and showers. They're directly connected to the home's mains electricity supply, which powers an internal element to heat the water.

The process is simple:

  1. Water enters the boiler.

  2. Electricity heats the element.

  3. Heated water is then circulated through the radiators for space heating and to taps for hot water.

Electric boilers do not require a flue or a gas supply, making installation straightforward. They are quiet and nearly maintenance-free, as there are no significant moving parts.

Types of Electric Central Heating Boilers

There are three main types:

  • Combi Boilers: These provide both central heating and hot water on demand. They do not need a separate hot water cylinder, making them compact and ideal for smaller spaces.

  • System Boilers: These work with a hot water cylinder but do not require a separate cold water tank. They are suitable for homes with higher hot water demands.

  • Heat-Only Boilers: Also known as "regular" boilers, these need both a hot water cylinder and a cold water tank. They are less common in modern homes but can be found in older properties.

Each type has its own benefits and is suited to different heating needs and property sizes.

Comparison to Gas and Oil Boilers

Gas Boilers:

  • Advantages: Usually cheaper to run due to lower natural gas prices.

  • Disadvantages: Require a mains gas connection, regular maintenance, and produce carbon emissions.

Oil Boilers:

  • Advantages: An alternative for homes without a gas connection.

  • Disadvantages: Need oil storage, regular deliveries, and emit carbon.

Electric Boilers:

  • Advantages: Zero on-site emissions, higher-energy efficiency, and simpler installations. No flue or chimney needed.

  • Disadvantages: Higher running costs due to electricity being more expensive than gas or oil.

Electric boilers are safer and have a smaller environmental footprint than traditional systems. They are particularly beneficial when paired with renewable energy sources like solar panels, making them a sustainable choice for modern homes.

Advantages of Electric Central Heating Boilers:

Electric central heating boilers offer numerous benefits, including high efficiency, low maintenance, and being environmentally friendly. Below is an in-depth look at some of their key advantages.

Efficiency & Economy

Electric boilers are known for their high efficiency rates, typically up to 99%. This efficiency means that almost all the electricity used is converted into heat. Users can benefit from this by having lower energy wastage and more consistent heating.

In financial terms, these boilers can be cost-effective to install compared to traditional gas boilers, as they do not require a flue or gas supply. Despite higher running costs per kilowatt hour compared to gas, their simpler installation and less frequent maintenance can balance out the overall expenses over time.

Safety and Maintenance

One of the significant advantages of electric boilers is their safety. They do not burn fuel internally, which eliminates the risks associated with gas leaks and carbon monoxide emissions. This makes them a safer option for households.

Electric boilers also require less maintenance compared to gas boilers. There is no need to regularly check and maintain a flue, and fewer parts mean fewer chances of breakdowns. This can result in lower maintenance costs and fewer disruptions.

Environmental Benefits

Electric central heating boilers produce zero on-site carbon emissions, making them an attractive option for environmentally conscious users. They support low-carbon heating, contributing positively to reducing the carbon footprint.

When paired with renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind power, electric boilers can create a sustainable heating solution. This makes them an excellent choice for those looking to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Comparing Heating Systems

Deciding between an electric boiler and a heat pump involves considering factors such as cost, efficiency, and space requirements. Both options have their own benefits and drawbacks that can impact their suitability for different homes and lifestyles.

Heat Pumps vs Electric Boilers

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps, such as air source and ground source heat pumps, use electricity to transfer heat from the outside to the inside of a building.

  • Efficiency: Highly efficient, can provide cooling and heating.

  • Cost: Higher initial costs but lower running costs.

  • Installation: Requires space for outdoor units and significant installation work.

  • Benefits: Eco-friendly, reduces carbon footprint. Suitable for well-insulated homes.

Electric Boilers

Electric boilers heat water using an electric element, similar to a large electric kettle.

  • Efficiency: Simple, effective, especially in smaller homes or spaces.

  • Cost: Lower initial costs compared to heat pumps but higher running costs.

  • Installation: Easier to install, doesn't require outdoor units.

  • Benefits: Quiet, compact, doesn't need a gas supply or flue. Perfect for apartments.

This comparison should help you decide on the best heating system for your needs, balancing initial investment with running costs and home suitability.

Benefits of New Gas Boilers:

Modern gas boilers offer several advantages for homeowners, especially those seeking efficiency and cost-effectiveness. They can provide reliable heating and hot water on demand, making them a favoured choice in many UK homes.

When is a home more suited to a Modern gas boiler?

Homes with existing gas mains are ideal for modern gas boilers. These systems can easily integrate with existing infrastructure, reducing installation costs and complexity. Properties with high heating demands, such as large family homes, benefit significantly from gas boilers due to their robust heating capabilities.

Additionally, smaller homes with limited space may prefer gas combi boilers, which provide hot water on demand and eliminate the need for a separate water tank. Such systems free up space, making them suitable for smaller properties or houses undergoing renovation.

Advantages of gas boilers over electricity

Cost-Effective Running Costs: Gas is generally cheaper than electricity, leading to lower fuel bills. This difference becomes significant over long periods, making gas boilers more economical.

High Efficiency: Modern gas boilers are highly efficient, often achieving efficiency rates of over 90%. This means they convert most of the fuel they consume into useful heat.

Reliable Heating: Gas boilers provide consistent and reliable heating and hot water. They are less affected by power outages, ensuring a steady supply even during electricity problems.

Wide Choice and Availability: There are many gas boiler models available on the market, giving homeowners a wide range of choices to suit their specific needs and preferences. This variety ensures that there is a suitable option for different property types and sizes.

In summary, gas boilers offer a blend of cost-efficiency, reliability, and ease of integration, making them an excellent choice for many UK homes.

Regulations and Compliance in the UK

Electric boilers in the UK must comply with several regulations and standards to ensure safety, efficiency, and legality. Key areas of compliance include the Building Regulations, the BS 7671 Wiring Regulations, and specific efficiency ratings for boilers.

Building Regulations and Standards

Building regulations in the UK specify that electric boiler installations must meet certain criteria established by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). This includes adherence to the BS 7671 Wiring Regulations, which cover the design, installation, and testing of electrical systems in homes. Proper compliance ensures the safe operation of the boiler.

Moreover, efficiency standards are enforced through the Energy-related Products (ERP) ratings. Boilers must achieve an A rating, indicating an efficiency above 90%. Specific temperature limits, such as a maximum of 55 degrees Celsius, are also mandated to ensure safety and energy conservation. Compliance with these standards not only meets legal requirements but also enhances the efficiency and longevity of the heating system.

Cost-Saving Tips and Energy Efficiency

Using an electric central heating boiler can be both cost-effective and energy-efficient when combined with certain strategies. These strategies primarily focus on enhancing your home's insulation and using smart technology to control heating more effectively.

Improving Home Insulation

Insulating your home efficiently can dramatically reduce energy costs. Proper insulation prevents heat from escaping, which means your boiler doesn’t need to work as hard or as long to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Key areas to insulate include:

  • Walls: Consider solid wall insulation.

  • Loft: Insulating the loft can cut heat loss significantly.

  • Windows: Double or triple glazing can prevent draughts.

  • Floors: Insulate under-floor spaces.

By focusing on these areas, homes retain heat better, lowering the boiler’s workload. Insulation is often a one-time investment but provides lasting benefits, making it a cost-effective way to improve energy efficiency.

Smart Thermostats and Automation

Smart thermostats offer another route to cost savings and energy efficiency. These devices allow for precise control over home heating systems and can be programmed to adjust temperatures based on your schedule.

Benefits include:

  • Automation: Thermostats can learn your routine and adjust heating accordingly.

  • Remote Access: Control heating from a smartphone or tablet.

  • Energy-Efficient Settings: They make it easier to maintain consistent, energy-efficient temperatures.

By using a smart thermostat, you can reduce unnecessary heating, ensuring efficient energy use. This not only saves money but also extends the life of your boiler. Investing in these technologies can be a practical step towards a more efficient home heating system.

Choosing the Right Boiler for Your Home

Selecting the right boiler involves considering your home's specific heating needs and choosing among different boiler types. Homeowners must focus on efficiency, size, and functionality to make the best choice.

Assessing Home Heating Requirements

It is essential to evaluate your home’s heating needs based on size, insulation, and the number of occupants. Larger homes usually require more powerful boilers. For example, a three-bedroom house might need a more robust boiler than a smaller flat.

Consider these factors:

  • Property Size: Bigger homes need boilers that can provide consistent heat to all rooms.

  • Insulation Quality: Well-insulated homes retain heat better, which might reduce the boiler size needed.

  • Hot Water Demand: Households with multiple bathrooms or frequent use of hot water may benefit from a boiler with higher capacity.

Another key consideration is the availability of fuel types. Electric boilers are nearly 100% energy-efficient and are quieter than gas boilers. They can be especially suitable in places without access to gas.

Selecting Between Electric Boiler Types

There are different types of electric boilers to choose from, each suitable for various needs and circumstances. The most common types are electric combi boilers and electric system boilers.

Electric Combi Boilers:

  • Compact and Efficient: Ideal for smaller homes, providing hot water on demand without needing a storage tank.

  • Installation: Easier and cheaper to install due to their small size.

  • Usage: Best for properties with limited space and lower hot water demand.

Electric System Boilers:

  • Higher Capacity: Designed to meet higher hot water demands with a separate storage tank.

  • Flexibility: Suitable for larger homes with multiple bathrooms.

  • Performance: Maintains consistent water pressure, which is advantageous for homes with simultaneous hot water usage.

Each type offers specific benefits that suit different household needs. Homeowners must weigh their priorities, such as space constraints, hot water usage, and budget, to select the most suitable option. For instance, the compact nature of combi boilers makes them perfect for flats, while system boilers are ideal for houses with more extensive hot water requirements.

Installation and Professional Advice

Correct installation of an electric central heating boiler is crucial for optimal function and efficiency. Proper installation, along with regular maintenance, can help avoid unexpected problems and costly repairs.

Finding Qualified Installers

It's essential to hire a qualified installer to ensure the boiler is fitted correctly. In the UK, look for professionals registered with organisations such as the Gas Safe Register or NICEIC. These certifications verify that the installer has the necessary skills and knowledge.

Electric boilers generally cost less to install than gas boilers, averaging around £1,750. While this is an upfront cost, it can lead to long-term savings by reducing maintenance and repair needs. An experienced installer can also advise on the best placement for the boiler to maximise efficiency.

Using qualified professionals helps ensure that the boiler complies with local regulations, preventing any potential legal issues. Always request quotes from multiple installers to compare both prices and services, ensuring you find the best value.

Maintenance and Service Scheduling

Regular maintenance is key to keeping an electric boiler running smoothly. Unlike traditional gas boilers, electric boilers have fewer moving parts, which often means lower maintenance costs. However, annual checks are still recommended to ensure all components are functioning correctly and safely.

Most electric boiler manufacturers provide a service schedule, which typically includes yearly inspections. These inspections can help identify any potential problems before they become more serious and costly. In the UK, routine service can cost between £50 and £100, which is relatively affordable.

Setting up a maintenance schedule is beneficial for prolonging the lifespan of the boiler. It also helps in maintaining energy efficiency, ensuring that heating costs remain as low as possible. Always keep a record of service appointments and any work carried out, as this can be valuable for future reference or potential property sales.

iHeat

At iHeat all of our subcontracted engineers are Gas Safe registered and can service your boiler swiftly and safely. Prices of an expert boiler service with iHeat start from £99.These figures might fluctuate regionally and can also depend on the specific type of boiler you own, such as a combi, gas, or oil boiler. 

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iHeat New Boiler Costs

Boilers can be a daunting purchase for many people as they’re an appliance with a lot of responsibility, providing heat for you and your family is something you want to get right. Boilers aren’t exactly a quickly disposable item either, potentially lasting you a decade.

Effectively, new boiler cost can be split into two segments: the first is the actual boiler itself (unit price), and the second is the cost of the boiler being installed (set up) in your property by an expert engineer. 

Here at iHeat, we want to remove all of this undue stress and make the decision making process of upgrading to a new central heating system, as easy as possible.

Boiler costs can vary depending on a number of factors including their brand, model, fuel, output, warranty, labour and boiler installation type. Typically a new boiler will cost between £1,845 and £3,500, below is a list of average boiler installations offered by iHeat (guide only).

Installation Type

Price (inc VAT)

Combi to combi swap

£1,845

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System to combi conversion

£2,499

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New boiler install

£2,899

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Back boiler to a combi

£3,299

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System to system

£1,945

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are electric central heating boilers any good?

Electric central heating boilers are efficient, eco-friendly, and can be easier to install than conventional boilers. They produce zero on-site emissions, and when paired with renewable energy, they offer a sustainable heating solution.

Can you get an electric central heating boiler?

Yes, electric central heating boilers are available and can be installed in most types of homes. They come in various sizes and configurations to suit different heating needs and property sizes.

Do electric boilers work with existing radiators?

Electric boilers can work with existing radiator systems. This makes them a convenient option for homeowners looking to upgrade their heating system without having to replace radiators.

How many radiators will a 12kW electric boiler run?

A 12kW electric boiler can typically run 8 to 10 radiators, depending on the size and insulation of the property. It is important to assess heat demand to ensure the boiler can handle the load.

Can an electric boiler heat a 4 bed house?

An electric boiler can heat a 4-bed house if it is appropriately sized for the heating demand. Generally, a larger capacity boiler would be required to efficiently heat a bigger property.

Can an electric boiler fill a bath?

Yes, an electric boiler can provide hot water for baths. The time taken to fill the bath depends on the boiler’s output and the water pressure in the home.

Do I need a hot water tank with an electric boiler?

Whether a hot water tank is needed depends on the type of electric boiler. Some systems, like combi boilers, heat water on demand and do not require a hot water tank. Others may need a tank for stored hot water.

Stephen Day profile photo
Article by
Stephen Day | Co-founder
Gas Safe registered and FGAS certified engineer with over 20 years experience in the heating and cooling industry.