Best alternatives to gas boilers in 2020: What are my options?

alternatives to gas boilers
Credit: Worcester Bosch

Gas boilers are not the only option you have when it comes to heating your home. 

Boilers can be run on a number of different fuels, or, can be replaced entirely with a renewable heating system. 

It’s important to make an educated decision on your heating system, as it will impact your comfort and your wallet for years to come. 

In this article, HomeSage explains and compares the common alternatives to gas boilers:

  • Alternative fuels:
    • Oil
    • Electricity
    • Biomass
    • LPG
  • Alternative systems:
    • Heat Pumps 
    • Solar Thermal Systems
  • Cost and Efficiency Comparison

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Alternatives fuels for your boiler

Boilers can be run on gas, oil, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), biomass or electricity, each with their own set of positives and negatives.

At HomeSage, we believe that gas in the best fuel for most homes, as it is both cost and energy-efficient.

Let’s take a look at alternative fuels: 

Oil

Oil is the most popular choice for homes that are not connected to the gas network. 

It works the same as gas to heat your hot water, but rather than relying on the mains, the fuel is stored at the property itself. 

For many, this fuel is used out of necessity instead of choice, with millions of homes unable to connect to the national grid at all.

Have a look at our list of the best oil boilers on the market right now!

Electricity

Electricity is a good option for small homes that are unable to store oil or a water tank on their premises.

However, it is significantly more expensive to heat your home with electricity rather than gas or oil.

It can be a good option for the eco-conscious, though, as you can choose a 100% renewable supplier to fuel your boiler.

We also have a list of the best electricity-powered boilers.

LPG

Liquefied Petroleum Gas is another option for those unable to connect to the national grid.

It is a carbon gas that exists in a liquid form so that it can easily be transported and stored at properties, similarly to oil. 

LPG is non-toxic and non-contaminating, so many feel safer storing the gas at their homes rather than oil.

Biomass

Biomass refers to natural matter, such as animal and plant waste, that is burned to heat your hot water system. 

It is essentially a carbon-neutral process, as plants only release the carbon they have absorbed in their lifetime. 

They require a significant amount of maintenance, as ash needs to be removed from the burner on a periodic basis, and they take up a lot of room in people’s homes. 

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Renewable heating systems

The UK Government announced that all new build properties, from 2025, must be renewable heating systems.

Although this has caused increased interest in renewable systems, it does not mean that you need to replace your current system. 

Not only is it usually expensive to retro-fit renewable systems, they are also often insufficient to heat people’s homes, unless they have been built to the highest insulation standards. 

Many are now opting for hybrid heating systems, which make the most of the efficiency of oil and the heat pump’s eco-credentials.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air or ground to be used for a central heating system. 

Despite the conditions in the UK, they are able to work in the cooler months, too, although not as efficiently as fossil fuel burning systems. 

This is where hybrid heating systems come into play, as they detect the best conditions at any given time to determine whether to use the heat pump or your traditional boiler. 

Usually, this means the heat pump is more relied on in the summer, and your boiler does the work in the winter.

This is a best of both worlds approach, saving you on emissions and getting you the best value for money too. 

Solar Thermal 

Solar thermal panels on roofs capture heat from the sun before exchanging it for energy to heat a water cylinder. 

Although a cheap option when up and running, they can be costly to install and and do not work on every roof type. 

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Comparing your options

Now you have an understanding of each of your options, let’s look at how they compare in terms of energy efficiency, installation cost and annual running costs for a two-three bedroom house:

Energy efficiencyInstallation costAnnual running cost
Gas boiler£1,000 – £3,750£435
Oil boiler£1,000 – £3,750£490
LPG boiler£1,000 – £3,750£785
Electric boiler£1,000 – £3,750£1,720
Biomass (wood pellets) boiler£10,000 – £19,000£1,500
Air source heat pump£8,000 – £18,000£1,900
Ground source heat pump£20,000 – £40,000£1,400
Solar thermal£3,900 – £5,000Free hot water

Should I replace my gas boiler?

As you can see in the table above, gas is one of the cheapest options to heat your home. It’s also one of the most efficient and it’s likely to be the system you are already using in your home.

Unless there was a specific need for your home to use one of these alternatives, sticking to gas is probably the best choice. 

We do recommend replacing older boilers, however, as their efficiency is up to 30% lower than new boilers, risking higher energy bills and emissions. 

Use our easy online tool to compare quotes from local, Gas Safe registered engineers today.

Get a quote for boiler installation

Here at HomeSage, we believe that you should be able to make informed decisions when it comes to choosing a boiler installer. 

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1. Let us know a few details about what you need, and your contact details, so we can find you the most suitable installer.

2. We search our database for the most suitable, local installers and connect you to them so you can get a quote.

3. You can relax, safe in the knowledge that you have gotten the best possible value for money and are working with trusted, Gas Safe registered engineers.

Click here to compare installers and save up to 54% today. 

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Charlie

Charlie is a content writer at HomeSage. Having left Oxford University he joined HomeSage in 2020 to help create the UK's best resource in the home improvement sector. In his spare time he enjoys walking his dog Zeus and playing cricket.