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.

Gas boilers

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 Systems

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.

Oil boilers

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.

Renewable energy

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

Thermostats and Controls

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.

Tanks, pipes and radiators

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.

Fitting or upgrading central heating?

You may be able to get help with the cost. Call Home Energy Scotland from the Scottish Government free on 0808 808 2282 to find out what’s available to you.

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Free advice and support

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