Whilst it may not seem like the most difficult question, choosing whether to get an electric or gas boiler can be a demanding decision. There are pros and cons to both electric and gas boilers, and in this blog we hope to walk you through the differences between the two types of boiler, and whether you should get an electric boiler or a gas boiler.
The Energy Saving Trust estimates that roughly 55% of what a household spends on its energy bills is generated solely by heating demands. This means that ensuring you have the right boiler for your home can make a dramatic difference to the amount that you spend year-on-year.
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to consider gas boilers to be combi boilers, as those are the most efficient type. In fact, most boiler installation companies will strongly recommend getting a gas combi boiler in most houses and domiciles but, as we intend to demonstrate on this blog, there are some instances in which it is preferable to choose an electric boiler over a gas boiler.
Photo credit: He Gong
Electric boiler pros and cons:
1) Electric boilers are a great option if you’re off the gas grid
As the name suggests, electric boilers use solely electricity in order to heat your house and provide hot water. All boilers use some amount of electricity as many components in gas boilers require power, but combi and gas boilers take gas from the main gas line as the main source of heat.
This means that one of the most obvious occasions when an electric boiler would be preferential to a gas one would be if your house isn’t connected to the gas mains! As I’m sure you’ve been able to figure out, without an instant and reliable source of natural gas, a gas boiler simply won’t work. In these instances, it’s vital to install an electric boiler.
2) Electric boilers are simpler, quicker and cheaper install that gas boilers
And installing an electric boiler is often simpler, quicker, and cheaper than a gas boiler. This is because they don’t require a flue (to vent gasses) nor a connection to the gas line. However, we do recommend that you check out multiple quotes from different installers to ensure that you get the right boiler for the right price.
3) Electric boilers are great for small homes that don’t require much heating
One of the other instances in which it’s preferable to install an electric boiler over a gas boiler would be in a small home which doesn’t require much heating. Electricity costs are, on average, far greater than gas prices, but they fluctuate around the country.
This means that, in order to ensure the lowest running costs possible, an electric boiler is most efficient in a small property. As they can often be cheaper than gas boilers and require less maintenance, the overall cost of an electric boiler can be less than a gas boiler in any instance where it is used less frequently – like a small flat.
4) Electric boilers are more environmentally friendly
Electric boilers are also potentially more environmentally friendly. As well as not producing any carbon emissions at your property (along with 0 chances of a carbon monoxide leak), electric boilers can run off of renewable energy, if that is what powers your town.
As of 12pm on 1 June 2020, Britain hasn’t used coal to power our houses for over 52 days, and the National Grid gets cleaner every year. However, electricity generation can be more carbon intensive than using natural gasses to heat your home, so there is a trade-off between choosing a gas boiler or electric boiler depending on what energy sources are used in your area.
One way of ensuring that renewable energy sources are used, and as a way of massively decreasing the costs of running an electric boiler, is to install solar panels as a direct source of energy. Not only does this mean that your electric boiler is much more green, but you’ll actually earn money back thanks to the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive, which can help pay for the installation of energy generating equipment on your property.
5) Electric boilers don’t need to be serviced and are less likely to need repairing
As electric boilers don’t have any moving parts they are less likely to break down than their gas counterparts.
Gas Boiler pros and cons:
Most boiler installers, in most instances, will recommend a gas combi boiler. If you’ve read the above pros and cons of electric boilers, then it won’t be too difficult to figure out the benefits and drawbacks of a gas boiler instead. But, for clarity, we’ll note down exactly why you should or should not get a gas boiler.
Photo Credit: Graes Magazine
1) Gas boilers need to be serviced Electric boilers don’t. But the cost of servicing is outweighed by the much lower running cost
Gas boilers can be more hassle than electric ones. Despite being cheaper to run (as gas costs far less than electricity) gas boilers have more moving parts than electric boilers and, therefore, more points of failure.
Over the course of an average gas boiler’s lifetime, it is expected to fail at least once. In fact, roughly 5% of gas boilers across the nation need replacing every year. That’s why we strongly recommend having any gas boiler serviced at least once/year by a GasSafe registered engineer. In fact, it is required in order to retain any warranty, or if the boiler is on a property for which you are a landlord.
Typically it will cost you between £60 to £150 for your boiler to be serviced depending on where you live which over time can add up to a significant amount.
2) Gas boilers are great for larger properties
When heating a large property, there is no better boiler than a gas boiler. Their combination of low running costs and high energy output means unparalleled efficiency for houses that need a lot of heating. On the other hand, gas boilers are far less efficient than their electric counterparts – on average gas boilers are 93% efficient, with electric boilers being closer to 99%, or even 100%.
This means that you lose 7p worth of heating for every pound spent when using a gas boiler. This energy efficiency rating is further complicated by the ecological impacts of the different types of boilers and the manner in which national grid energy is produced in your area.
3) Gas boilers are much cheaper to run than Electric boilers
Gas boilers have much lower average running costs than electric ones too, due to the lower cost of natural gas, even when factoring in potential repairs. Considering that the UK average price for electricity is 14.4p/kWh, a typical 24kW electric boiler would cost £207.38 to run for 60 hours/month.
A 24kW gas combi boiler running for the same number of hours would cost almost half that, at £54.72, as the average price of gas is only 3.8p/kWh. A gas boiler will cost a little more to run however as some electricity is needed to power a few of the components.
|Expense||Gas boiler running costs||Electric boiler running costs|
Here is a comparison of running a 24kW electric boiler vs a 24kW gas boiler for 60 hours per month over a year
Should you get an electric boiler or gas boiler?
As we have demonstrated throughout this blog, both gas boilers and electric boilers are useful in different situations and have a variety of advantages and disadvantages. We have created a summary below
|Gas boiler||Electric boiler|
|If you don’t have a gas supply then a gas boiler won’t be much use!||Perfect if you’re off the grid and don’t have access to a gas supply|
|Gas boilers are more expensive to fit but cheaper to run||Electric boilers are cheaper to fit than gas boilers but more expensive to run|
|Suited to a range of homes and are cost effective for larger homes||Better suited to smaller homes and not suitable for larger homes|
|Requires servicing at a cost of around £60 to £150 per year||Does not require servicing and is unlikely to break due to few moving parts|
|Electric boilers are more environmentally friendly|
For most homes, a gas combi boiler is the perfect choice. However, the distinct benefits of an electric boiler – the efficiency, ability to use renewable energy sources, smaller installation costs and less required maintenance – means that it is often worth properly considering which type of boiler to get.
Don’t forget to do your own research into what boiler would be best for your home, using our site to compare the prices of boiler installers across the nation. We also have several blog posts which might help you make your decision, including a recent one on what, exactly, a gas combi boiler is.