Most UK homes have a gas boiler and central heating system, but it’s not your only choice.  So what other types are available and are they right for you?

So what other types are available and are they right for you?

Oil, LPG, and Electric

Historically the only options available to people as alternatives to gas boilers were oil, electric, or LPG boilers, so let’s start here. Oil and LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) Boilers are very similar to natural gas boilers as they are run using fossil fuel, but instead of being connected to a mains network, the fuel is stored in tanks in your garden.

Electric boilers, as you would expect, use electricity as their fuel.  As almost every home in the UK has access to electricity in one form or another, these can be very convenient.  Their downfall is that they are not very powerful, and so in reality, they are not suitable for anything more than a small flat.

There are low carbon alternatives to a gas boiler, often powered using sustainable fuel sources such as the sun or air.  Let’s look at the pros and cons of each type available in the UK today.

Biomass Boilers

How does it work?

Biomass Boilers burn wood logs or pellets instead of fossil fuels.

Pros: They are classed as carbon neutral boilers as the trees only release the carbon they absorb during their lifetime.

Cons: They take up a lot of space, require more maintenance than any other heating system, and produce a lot of waste (ash) that needs to be regularly cleaned out.

Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP)

How does it work?

Heat pumps extract heat from the outside air and convert it into heating and hot water for your home.

Pros: They work in even very cold temperatures in the winter, and in the summer they can be used as air-conditioning to cool your home.

Cons: You need a well-insulated home to gain the benefits of an ASHP as they are less efficient at producing heat than many alternatives.

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP)

How does it work?

The temperature of the earth around 2 metres underground is consistent all year round. A GSHP draws heat from here to warm your home and water.

Pros: There are very low running costs for a GSHP, they are inexhaustible and very quiet to run.

Cons: They can be expensive to install and tend to be better suited to new builds than retrofitting into existing homes.

Solar Panels

How does it work?

Solar panels absorb heat from the sun during the day and convert it into heat and hot water for your home.

Pros: After their initial installation, solar panels and the technology associated to heat your home are very low maintenance.

Cons: They can be expensive to install, and can be as inconsistent in performance as the UK weather!

Gas Boilers

If none of the low carbon options are suitable for your property and you are connected to the main gas grid, then for safety, efficiency, and financial reasons a gas boiler is by far your best choice for heating your home.