Gas central heating is the cheapest heating option – and only wood-burning systems release fewer carbon emissions. You may even be able to save money by making your central heating system more efficient.
Managing your home heat
Some homes use electric storage heaters. But electricity can be the most costly way to heat a home – and the worst for carbon emissions. You’ll save money in the long run if you are able to switch to gas. You may even be able to get a new central heating system fitted for free. Contact Home Energy Scotland from the Scottish Government to see if you qualify.
If you have an old, G-rated boiler with no heating controls, swapping it for an A-rated condensing boiler with full heating controls could knock up to 30% off your gas bill.
Making other changes can also help to reduce fuel bills. Turning the thermostat down by just 1ºC can cut your annual heating bill by £85 to £90 a year in a typical, gas-heated semi. Insulating tanks and pipes will keep hot water hotter for longer. A plumber can inject chemical inhibitors into an older central heating system to remove rust and help hot water to flow better to your radiators.
Different ways to heat your home
Gas central heating and electric storage systems heat homes in very different ways. It’s generally much cheaper to keep warm using a gas system – and help is sometimes available if you want to install central heating.
Central heating is the most popular kind of heating in the UK. A boiler runs off the mains gas to heat water. Pipes then pump the hot water to radiators, which heat each room. The boiler – whether it’s a regular or combi model – also provides hot water to taps. An A-rated condensing boiler is the most efficient kind available.
Electric storage heaters warm up at night when electricity is cheaper and give out heat during the day. Storage heating can be a very costly way to heat your home – and electricity causes greater carbon emissions than any other heating option, although for some renters it is the only available option. Water is heated by an immersion heater – which works in the same way as a kettle.
Another option for people without access to mains gas is central heating that runs off an oil boiler. These systems are similar to gas boilers, but instead burn heating oil, which is normally stored in a tank in the garden. Oil central heating is often cheaper than heating powered by electricity, but it’s generally more expensive than central heating that runs off mains gas.
Find out more about how you can generate your own energy to heat your home. You could cut costs and carbon emissions by installing a solar power, heat pump or wood-fuelled system, for instance.
Managing your heat
Fitting and using various thermostats and controls can help to manage gas central heating or an electric system. A thermostat can maintain the temperature of a room, hot water cylinder or boiler. Timer controls turn a boiler on only when it’s needed. Switching off storage heaters at the wall when not in use saves electricity.
Water heated by a regular boiler or immersion heater is stored in a hot water cylinder until it’s needed. Pipes carry hot water to radiators and taps. Hot water fills the radiator, which then gives out heat to the room. Radiator valves and thermostats can control heating room by room. Low-cost radiator reflector panels save heat.
A big change - save up to £340 a year
Installing or upgrading your central heating can be a big step, but it can also save you a great deal of money - up to £340 a year for a top-rated modern boiler*. You can make your savings go even further by teaming up your central heating with other measures.
A hat for your home
- Loft insulation could save you up to £140 a year, in homes with a currently uninsulated loft
- Just like people, many homes lose a lot of their heat through the roof. Insulating your loft to the recommended 270mm will begin paying off immediately, and you may be eligible for free loft insulation - call Home Energy Scotland for advice.
A warmer point of view
- Double glazing could save you up to £110 a year
- An excellent way to keep warmth in your home is to fit double glazing. Double (or even triple) panes trap heat and reduce street noise. Costs vary depending on the size and age of your home, but the money you save will be immediate and last for years.
* Based on upgrading a G-rated gas boiler with no heating controls to an A-rated gas boiler with a full set of heating controls (programmer, thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves), which are correctly used.