Can Electric Heating Be Cheaper Than Gas?

piggy bankFinding the cheapest option is usually what many of life’s decisions are based on. No one wants to waste money if there’s an affordable alternative - and rightly so. The same probably goes for your home heating system, which is why it’s a good idea to weigh up your options.

In the gas versus electric debate, traditionally, gas is thought to be the cheaper way of heating your home. When considering cost-effectiveness, however, electric heating may just come out on top. By electric heating, we mean individual electric units attached to the wall. If you need some assistance in deciding which route to go down, we’re on hand to help.

What’s the difference between gas and electric heating?

To briefly explain their main differences:

Gas central heating

Gas central heating systems depend on the central boiler, which warms water inside of it, then distributes the heat through a network of pipes and into the radiators. This warms your entire home.

Electric heating

For electric heating, all individual appliances on the system work independently. Each unit (in this case, electric radiator) has its own unit of power, direct from the wall. It warms your home with heat conducted through electricity rather than water.

Despite gas currently being the most common form of heating in the UK, the exciting evolutions of electrical mean the demand for it is increasing daily.

How do the gas and electric heating costs compare?

It’s no secret that gas is a cheaper energy source to purchase than electricity. One unit of gas costs around 4p/kWh and one unit of electricity is roughly 15p/kWh. Although the purchase price favours gas, there are far more factors to consider than just the energy costs, such as:

1. Installation

plugGas central heating systems always require a professional installation with extensive pipework, which is often an incredibly time-consuming task. These systems can take several weeks to set up and they're pricey to install, meaning a much higher upfront investment cost.

A benefit of electric heating is that the appliances are much easier to set up and many can be installed yourself, without having to call in professional electricians or pay installation costs. All you need to do is attach them to the wall, plug them into the nearest socket, and you’re all set.

Alternatively, you can opt to have your heating hardwired to the mains by a professional electrician. Hardwiring a radiator is a much simpler and faster job for an electrician than plumbing a gas central heating radiator is for a plumber, and this is reflected in the cost to you. Professional electric heating installation is best for those who want electric heating fitted throughout their home. It will also give your heating a more seamless appearance.

2. Efficiency

Although gas is a cheaper energy source per unit, electric heating is 100% efficient at point of use. This means every watt of electricity used by the heater is converted into heat. Nothing is wasted, so there’s no need to worry about where your money’s going.

Gas central heating incurs system losses. These losses naturally occur at the point of combustion, as well as across the pipe network. Up to 50% of the heat produced by the boiler can be lost through the pipes, especially if they’re not well insulated. This means you end up paying for warmth that has simply gone to waste.

3. Heat management

Gas central heating predominantly uses centralised control, meaning all of your radiators are managed collectively. So, you end up heating your entire house when you only really need your living room to be warm. As a result, you waste both energy and money, heating areas of the property that may not be in use.  

Not to fear though, this isn’t the case for electric heating. Many appliances are fitted with individual thermostats, so you can manage each one separately. This means you can set a different temperature and heating schedule in each room of the house to match your needs, without heating spaces unnecessarily. With our many intelligent app-controlled heaters, you can do this in a few easy taps.

4. Smart Control

ecostrad iq ceramic Many modern electric heaters come with sophisticated controls for improved convenience and better cost-efficiency, which is already above and beyond gas central heating systems. Smart electric heaters, however, are one step ahead. They allow for full user control in every aspect of heating, giving you access to a variety of energy-saving features such as energy usage statistics and adaptive start. These features allow you to see where you can make changes to reduce your energy consumption and pre-heat your home ahead of your set schedule.

They also allow you to manage your heating through Bluetooth, WiFi, and even your voice. WiFi programming provides full distance control over your heating through an app on your phone. This means you’re able to make changes to your heating remotely, no matter where you are in the world. If you happen to leave your heating on when you’re out and about, you can switch it off with a few simple taps. There’s no need to worry about wasting energy or racking up those electricity bills.

5. Maintenance costs

To ensure their safety, gas boilers require servicing once a year to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide leaks. In some cases, this can price up to £150, which is a hefty annual cost. Gas boilers are also known to have pipework leaks, meaning plumber callouts may be necessary, again adding to your expenses.

As electric heaters are powered through the mains of your home, it means they're virtually maintenance-free and don’t require any servicing. A far more relaxing way of heating your property, that will save you money in the long run.

6. The life expectancy of gas vs. electric heating

rc wave

The life expectancy of a modern gas boiler is around 15-20 years, meaning a new replacement boiler would have to be installed at some point. With plans in place to phase out gas central heating completely in the UK, a replacement gas system may have to come sooner than you think.

To reduce the UK’s CO2 emissions, gas boilers are set to be banned by 2025 in favour of carbon-friendlier alternatives. Going with the more futureproof choice by installing electric heating means there’s no need to worry about this, as it’s already a carbon-neutral solution.

Electric heating systems are expected to last a lot longer. As the bodies of electric radiators have no moving parts, there isn’t a lot that can go wrong. Many of our products offer long warranties, meaning no future costs looming over you. For example, our RC Wave Electric Radiator provides a lifetime guarantee on the body of the radiator, meaning no unexpected costs down the line.

Another advantage of electric heating is that the risk of failure is spread across all electrical appliances, rather than just one gas boiler. If one electric radiator fails, that’s the only one that will need replacing. You’ll also never be left without a heated home whilst the radiator is getting replaced, as you can shuffle your heaters around to keep warm. Whereas with gas, if the system breaks, your whole house is cold.

Decision time – gas or electric?

When deciding between gas and electric, it’s beneficial to consider the long-term versatility of your heating system. Electric heating has fewer future expenses, meaning that over time it’ll be saving you money. Considering all the factors in this blog, as well as it being far kinder to the environment, it’s easy to see the benefits of choosing electric heating over gas.

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