In short, using electric heating is approximately £350 more expensive per year to run than more traditional gas powered systems. According to OVO Energy, the average UK home using gas heating spends around £550 per year – while relying on electric storage heaters cost almost £900 each year.
It is likely the reason why as many as 85% of UK households rely on gas to heat their homes during the winter. You should also take into account that over the past decade electrical energy bill costs have risen and fallen, although currently the trend is more towards an ongoing increase in costs for UK households.
However, there are plenty of other benefits of electric heating, some of which can significantly reduce costs overall. If you are thinking of installing it in your home, in this article we explain more about the systems and what to look out for.
What are the benefits of electric heating?
Electric heating is a relatively cheap system to install. This is because there is less hardware involved in the installation, with no need for pipes, flues, vents and ducts to be included and connected. Electric systems can be connected to existing electric circuits, which for new build properties would take place during the second stage of wiring. Electric heating systems can also be installed in a much shorter space of time, especially on larger jobs.
The installation of electric heating reduces some of the risks that can come with traditional systems. As there is no fuel used to operate the system, occupants will not be at risk of carbon monoxide emissions or potential explosions. Electric heating systems run quietly as there is no hot water running through the pipes, avoiding kettling noises in the boiler and pipes. The removal of water also means there will be no build-up of limescale, extending the lifespan of the system and requiring less maintenance as a result.
Electricity has a positive effect on the environment as no gasses or heavy metals are used in the make-up of the system. Gas is widely recognised as the cleanest of all fossil fuels and is also the cheapest to use, which is one of the main reasons why so many homes opt for gas over electric heating.
Connectivity around the home is becoming increasingly commonplace and electric heating offers a more convenient and controllable system. And having greater control doesn’t just make life easier. It can also save as much as 30% on annual heating costs and help reduce damaging carbon emissions. Built in Wi-Fi often comes as standard with electric heating, while it has to be retrofitted into gas systems at an extra cost.
While it is true that gas is a cheaper commodity to run, when you take into consideration additional costs such as running expenses, maintenance and the lifespan of products, there are some cases where electrical alternatives can sometimes be competitive. However, this also has to be balanced with the higher bills produced by electric heating, which is not something all households can afford to pay for the short-term. Electric heating requires very little maintenance and is relatively cheap to install. Its 100% efficiency also means no energy is wasted so everything you pay for is put to use around the home.
Electric central heating devices
There are a variety of electric heating devices available that can help lower costs such as:
1. Night storage heaters
One of the best ways to keep costs down is to invest in systems that use night storage heaters. These work by warming up heat-retaining ceramic blocks that remain heated to keep your home warm. This naturally means you are using less energy and saving money in the process.
Once heated, the bricks will release the warmth slowly and retain the heat for up to 24 hours. You then reheat them in the evening for use that night and the next day. Some storage heaters can be purchased that give you the option to produce heat straight away whenever needed.
Night storage heaters typically use an Economy 7 tariff that offers a lower rate of cheaper electricity overnight for a 7 hour period. The Economy 10 tariff is also available, which extends the time up to 10 hours which starts earlier in the day around mid-afternoon.
2. Electric radiators and storage heaters
By law, all newly made modern electric heaters must come with 24-hour and 7-day programmable timers, along with thermostats, fans and temperature controls. Older models without this features can still be sold but be aware you will not have as much control over your energy usage. You will also find new models that come with remote Wi-Fi control options and open window detectors so you are aware if too much heat is being lost.
Some households will have electric radiators that use a standard single-rate tariff. Although this is likely to be more expensive and produce higher bills as the cost of electricity during the day is much higher than the evening. Properties with good levels of insulation may benefit as there will be less need to consistently run heaters through the day to keep the space warm.
The installation of smart meters is becoming increasingly common, which enable lower charge rates for electricity used during certain periods. The provider may also have a specific tariff that offers cheaper rates at specific times of the day so you can manage costs more easily.
How to reduce your bill
Here are a few key tips to help you control the heating cost of your home:
1. Switch providers
You could possibly save money by switching to a new, cheaper tariff or even changing provider. The longer you have been with a particular provider without looking into new tariffs, the more likely it is you could be saving money. Ofgem (the government’s gas and electricity regulator) say that as many as 60% of households do not switch providers. By requesting a quick quote or doing comparisons you could save yourself hundreds of pounds each year.
2. Insulate your home
As much as two-thirds of the energy used in your home will be for heating rooms, which accounts for around half your bills. Heat loss is one of the biggest reasons for higher energy bills. If properties are properly insulated your energy consumption will lower as a result.
Anyone with a loft should consider upgrading their insulation if the space has not been converted recently. Heat naturally rises, which means badly insulated lofts and roofs lose a lot of heat and add to your energy bills. You can also consider insulating flooring and walls if required, ensuring heat is retained in the house so you use the heating system less often and save money.
3. Control the heating
While upgrading insulation is an option for homeowners, it’s not an option for renters. This means better control over when and how the heating is used is required. Even reducing your thermostat by as little as 1°C over a 3-day period can lower bills by around 10%.
Timed heating also helps. Set the timer so it comes on when you wake up, turns off when you leave, comes back on when you return and goes off at night. Also heat each room to meet its usage levels. Bathrooms and living rooms should be warm, but a hot bedroom may not be required all evening – maybe only turn on the radiator an hour or two before going to sleep. Of course, if you are cold, turn the heating back up, but you may be surprised how these small reductions save you money without affecting comfort.
4. Consider underfloor heating
If you are still wondering ‘how much is electric heating going to cost me?’ then you could also weigh up the option of installing underfloor heating. These systems work at a lower temperature compared to radiators and could save you money as result. They also ensure the room is kept warmer for longer as underfloor heating takes longer to cool down, meaning you have less need to keep triggering the system to maintain the temperature.
5. Install the right radiator
Be aware of the BTU required to adequately heat the room the radiator is installed in. If too small the unit may be working too hard and emitting heat that will never sufficiently heat the space and waste a lot of energy and money in the process. In general it is always better to have an electric radiator that is slightly larger than the size you need to ensure the room is heated economically.
6. Carry out a central heating power flush
Over time pipe work and radiators in gas heating system will start to deteriorate which allows particles to enter the water stream. This leads to blockages and can also damage the boiler. A power flush could be used to push water mixed with special chemicals through the system to clean the pipes and radiators to restore their efficiency levels. It is not always the best option for every home, so you should always seek professional guidance to see if it will work for you.
Electric central heating installation cost
The deciding factor on whether or not you switch to electric heating will depend on whether it will reduce bills and if the installation is cost effective.
So how much does electric central heating installation cost? The price for switching over will depend on the size of the property and the amount of radiators and thermostats needed to be installed, which means costs will vary.
We offer a free, non-committal quote for customers who are thinking of changing to electric heating. This is based on your individual requirements and ensures you get a competitive price for the very latest electric heating systems available today.
As a starting point you can use this electric heating cost calculator to get an initial understanding of how much energy you might be using at present. This should give you an indication as to whether or not you need find out more about installing an electric heating system that could save you money.
Average cost of electric heating
So after taking in all of the information above, how much does electric heating cost? The average cost of heating and water using electricity costs between £750 to £800 in the UK. Based on a standard tariff using approximately 4,200 kWh of electricity this would be about £200 more than using gas heating.
However, this does not take into account using an Economy 7 or 10 tariff that allows you to maximise off-peak rates in the evening. Insulation, property size and the efficiency of the overall system also plays a big role in dictating costs.
Maintenance and repairs also have to be taken into account, as electric heating systems are far more reliable and less likely to breakdown. As a result, this means electric boilers last longer than gas alternatives and will not need to be replaced as quickly, saving you money in the long run. They also make better use of energy with nothing being wasted through the piping (as with gas).