A warm heated scarf wearing house

Heating

Electric Heaters Vs Gas Central Heating

October 04th 2022

The debate between central heating vs electric heaters has been going on for years, and it's not likely to stop anytime soon. 


When it comes to heating your home, gas is an excellent option. Around 95% of UK homes have gas central heating, and with good reason: it's incredibly cost-effective, easy to operate, and reliable.


But as the world moves forward, we're seeing more and more people turning to modern electric heating options. 


In this guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both options along with the average costs associated with each. Remember - there is no one size fits all, so you should take into consideration your needs, budget and building size to determine the most suitable solution for you. 


Once you have the information required to make a decision, you can explore the diverse range of heating options available at HSS available to hire at your convenience. 

What is gas central heating and how does it work?

A heat pump, furnace and boiler are all types of central heating. The most common type of central heating is combi boilers, as 95% of the population has this heat source installed in their homes. 


Gas central heating works by heating water in a boiler that is connected to a gas supply. The water is then pumped through pipes, where it heats up radiators, underfloor heating systems or convectors - which then distribute the energy throughout the building. Central heating systems are also designed to provide a steady supply of hot water to sinks, baths and showers. 


The heating element is activated through a thermostat, which means that it can be programmed to heat your home at different times of the day and night, so you don't have to keep adjusting the temperature manually.

White thermostatic radiator valve knob being turned

The pros and cons of gas central heating

Pros

1. Energy efficiency: Modern boilers must be over 90% more efficient than old boilers - they must be labelled as A-rated (or 92-94% efficient).  This means that almost all of the fuel is converted into heat, minimising wasted energy. 


The efficiency of a boiler is determined by how much fuel the boiler is able to turn into usable energy at any given time. Higher efficiency means more savings for you over time and less money spent on operating costs. For those that want to reduce their energy bills, natural gases typically cost less than electricity or oil long-term.


2. Consistent control over temperature: Smart controls mean you can adjust temperatures in each room during the coldest hours of the day. You can set up a smart thermostat to automatically keep your home or workplace at a comfortable temperature. 


A digital programmable thermostat will enable you to adjust the temperature in each room on a timer - this is the most convenient way to heat a home efficiently.


3. Long lasting: In general, modern gas central heating systems can last anywhere between 20-30 years. They are easy to maintain and can be checked annually by a licensed technician for any faults or breakdowns. This is particularly important to ensure that there is no risk of gas leaks. 

Cons

1. High upfront costs: Although gas prices are generally lower than electric, the upfront costs of buying a boiler and paying for professional installation are high. There are also high charges for any work that may need to be carried out, such as installing gas lines, pipework and radiators. 


2. Safety hazards: Carbon monoxide leaks can occur from gas heating, which is why regular checks are advised (as well as the installation of alarms). Moreover, Incorrect use or improper maintenance can cause a heater to catch fire.


3. Carbon net zero: By 2050, the UK aims to reach Net Zero carbon emissions. As part of this plan, gas boilers will likely not be allowed in new properties starting in 2025 in order to reach an 80% carbon reduction target. It will eventually be necessary to phase out and replace the old gas heating systems in older homes too. This makes swapping gas heating for electric heating beneficial and ensures your premise is future proof.

An electric radiator

What are electric heaters and how do they work?

In comparison to gas central heating, portable electric heaters use the mains power to provide warmth. Various electric solutions are available to heat your home without relying on fossil fuels like coal, gas, or oil. 


Heat is generated by passing electricity through an electrical resistance inside the heater. In order to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, heat energy is transferred from the element to the core and then to the casing.


A wide range of electric heating options is available for hire here at HSS, including electric boilers, air source heat pumps, underfloor heating, electric radiators, infrared heaters, modern storage heaters and more.

The pros and cons of electric heaters

Historically, electric radiators were regarded as inefficient. However, innovations in technology ensure that contemporary models are extremely energy efficient with some models including advanced features to maximise efficiency.

Today's electric radiators are capable of heating rooms up to 150 square metres in size and can be used for both space heating and domestic hot water systems.

Pros

1. Cheap and effective: If you only need to heat one or two rooms in your home, electric radiators can be cost-effective. In comparison to other heating methods like gas, oil, or biomass, electric heating is significantly easier and cheaper to install. Installation of pipes and lifting of flooring is not required. Electric heaters can often be plugged in without having to be wired. 


2. Smart features: Modern electric heaters include a range of smart features to maximise usage. Some features include flexible programming for automated heat whenever it suits you best and energy monitors to give you visibility of energy consumption and save costs.


3. Safety: Electric heaters do not produce carbon monoxide like gas heaters do and are generally cleaner for the environment. They are also safer to use indoors, as they do not require a venting system or a pilot light, which can be dangerous if improperly maintained or operated.

Cons

1. Can be inefficient: Electric heaters are a great option for heating small spaces, but they can be less efficient for whole-building heating. Electric heaters use a lot more energy than gas or oil furnaces, and they don't provide the same kind of continuous heat that you get from other types of heating.


2. Energy costs: In the UK, electricity costs more than three times the cost of gas. This means that you could end up paying more on energy bills if you rely on electric heaters too often. 


3. Time-consuming: Most electric heaters take a significant amount of time to power up and begin heating a room, this can consume more energy than central heating which quite quickly begins to radiate heat.

Electric heaters vs central heating: Which is best?

Electric heaters are cheaper to buy upfront, while gas heaters are cheaper to run. There are many variables to consider in order to work out the most cost-effective option, but in most cases, the price of electricity is a lot higher than the price of gas. So if you only use your heater a few times during the winter months, then electric may be the better choice. If you are looking to heat a large space that is occupied regularly, then gas central heating might be more economical.


However, as energy prices increase and more homeowners and businesses look for ways to save money, combining central heating systems with supplementary or backup heating from plug-in radiators could be the best way to keep energy costs low.


Regardless of the type of heater you choose to purchase or hire, the best way to ensure you are getting an energy-efficient option is to search for the following:


  • Make sure your appliance has a high energy star rating
  • Make sure the appliance you choose is the right size for the space you want to heat
  • Choose an appliance with multiple controls for easy heat control

Hire high-quality heating for your home or site here at HSS

HSS Hire is here to provide you with the best heating solutions when the cold weather hits. Occasionally, the best option for supplementary heat in the home or temporary on-site heat in the workplace is hiring equipment.


We offer a range of heaters that are suitable for any space and purpose, including small portable radiators right up to large industrial fan heaters and air handlers, which are great for larger industrial spaces.


If you require a heater for a marquee event, patio warmth, or an outdoor party, you’ll find efficient heating on our site. We also provide direct and indirect fuel heaters which are ideal when you need large volumes of heat as well as radiant heaters which create intense, localised heat.


We offer a range of boilers that can be installed on-site in just a few hours, giving you peace of mind that your guests or visitors will be able to enjoy hot drinks and washing facilities.


We understand that sometimes short-term solutions are required, which is why we offer flexible rental agreements that can be tailored to meet your needs. From providing emergency hire through to full bespoke project design, our team is ready to assist with any heating requirements you have.

Author - Marcin Haraszczuk

About the Author

Marcin Haraszczuk

Marcin is a member of our E-Commerce Team. He mixes creative flair with analytical thinking, has a knack for DIY and is always seeking ways to broaden and share his knowledge.

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