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What are the Best Heating Options for Homes Without Gas?

Heating options for homes without gas

The list of heating options for homes without gas is far longer than you might think. From more conventional boilers that run on stored fuel, such as oil and LPG, to renewable heating systems.

Comparing these alternatives to gas will help you find out which is best suited to your home.

Heating options for homes without gas

Around 4 million homes across the UK aren’t connected to the gas network. This means that finding an alternative to the gas boiler is essential for these properties.

While gas boilers are by far the most common home heating system across the UK, they’re not the only option. So, for anyone off the gas network, there are several alternatives to choose between. And your options can be split into alternative boiler fuels, electric heating systems and renewables.

Alternative boiler fuels

  • Oil
  • Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)

Heating options for homes without gas

Electric heating systems

  • Electric boiler
  • Infrared panels

Renewables

  • Biomass
  • Heat pumps
  • Solar thermal

Oil boilers

Oil boilers work in a similar way to gas boilers as they burn a fuel to provide central heating and hot water. Like gas, oil boiler types include combi, regular and system with the only difference being that the fuel must be stored in a tank.

By needing a tank, there must be suitable outdoor space around your property. Not only for the tank itself but for the delivery of the oil when the tank needs filling.

Oil boiler advantages

  • Accessible way for anyone living off the gas network to heat their property
  • Freedom to choose who the oil is supplied by and you can choose to switch supplier at any time
  • Depending on the model, oil boilers can be a more efficient alternative to gas

Oil boiler disadvantages

  • Cost of oil is rising in the UK
  • Property needs enough space for an oil tank to store the oil
  • Oil is a fossil fuel and burning it releases carbon into the atmosphere which is a cause of climate change
  • Oil supplies are likely to run out within the next 40 years

Oil boiler costs

Oil boiler costs are similar to gas boilers. These prices typically range from £1,000 to £3,000 with the final price being determined by the manufacturer and model. As well as the boiler you will also need to think about the installation. Compared to gas boilers, oil boilers can be more expensive to install as the storage tank also needs to be fitted.

Oil Boiler Costs
Oil boiler £1,000 – £3,000
Installation £500 – £2,000

Once installed, the average cost of oil sits at 4.81 pence per kilowatt-hour. This is slightly higher than natural gas (4.17) but you could be saving money compared to heating your home with LPG and electricity.

Impact on the environment

Like gas, oil is a fossil fuel. This means that it releases carbon into the atmosphere when burned. As a result, this increases the level of carbon in the atmosphere which is a leading cause of climate change.

Fortunately, modern oil boilers are highly efficient and convert more than 90% of the fuel into heat for the home. This means there’s very little waste. However, if you’re looking to greatly reduce your carbon footprint then a renewable heating system would be a better option.

Boiler-Comparison-Tool
Boiler-Comparison-Tool

LPG boilers

LPG is a gaseous fuel but can be stored at your property in a tank. This is opposed to natural gas which is delivered directly to a property through the gas network by a supplier as and when needed. This means that outdoor space is needed for a storage tank in the garden.

They’re available as combi, system and regular heating systems, in a range of outputs. So, an LPG boiler can meet the heating demands of smaller to larger properties.

LPG boiler advantages

  • Often more affordable than oil boilers
  • Available in compact sizes
  • Can be used for an oven or hob, as well as the boiler

LPG boiler disadvantages

  • More expensive fuel than natural gas and oil
  • You will need to monitor the fuel levels in the tank
  • The storage tank will add to the costs

LPG boiler costs

LPG boilers have a similar price tag to conventional gas boilers. Depending on the manufacturer, model and boiler type an LPG boiler can be found for as little as £400. Higher end LPG boilers are available with prices rising up to around £2,500.

In addition to the boiler itself, a storage tank will also need to be installed. These can be purchased outright or rented from a supplier.

LPG Boiler Costs
LPG boiler £400 – £2,500
Installation £500 – £2,000

As a fuel, LPG is more expensive than natural gas and oil. On average in the UK it costs 7.19p/kWh.

Impact on the environment

LPG is another fossil fuel, which means that it releases carbon into the atmosphere when burned. Having said this, LPG produces 15-20% less carbon than oil. So if your decision comes down to Oil vs LPG then LPG is the best choice if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint.

Electric boilers

An electric boiler is a great option for small homes and flats. This is because they can’t meet higher demands for heating and hot water. There’s no need for a flue pipe (which expels waste gases from gas and oil boilers outside) and they’re very compact. So you won’t need to worry about space.

Electric boiler advantages

  • Quiet during operation
  • No emissions
  • Very few moving parts which lowers the risk of faults
  • Don’t need to be serviced as regularly as gas and oil boilers
  • Light and very compact

Electric boiler disadvantages

  • Higher fuel price than gas, LPG and oil
  • Can’t heat the home during a power cut
  • Unable to meet high demands for heating and hot water

Electric boiler costs

The installation of an electric boiler typically comes to around £1,500. The electric boiler itself can cost between £750 and £2,500. Installation will add around £500 to £1,000 to the cost of the boiler.

Installation of an electric boiler is often more straightforward than installing a gas, LPG or oil boiler. And this can help to keep the costs down.

Electric Boiler Costs
Electric boiler £750 – £2,500
Installation £500 – £1,000

While installation of an electric boiler can be relatively affordable, the fuel itself is far more expensive. In the UK, the average price of electricity sits at 16.36p/kWh (standard rate), which is close to 4 times more than natural gas and over twice as expensive as oil.

Impact on the environment

There are two sides to the story when it comes to the impact electricity has on the environment. On the one hand, when used to heat the home, it doesn’t emit any carbon into the atmosphere.

However, electricity generation is considered carbon intensive. This is because, traditionally, electricity has been produced by burning fossil fuels. Despite this, electricity generation is rapidly moving away from fossil fuels. Renewables make up an ever-growing proportion of electricity generation in the UK. In fact, the first three months of 2020 saw 47% of electricity generated by renewables.

“If you’re with a renewable energy supplier then heating your home with an electric boiler can be considered a ‘greener’ option.”

 

Infrared heating panels

Infrared heating panels directly heat objects and people within a room using infrared heat. This is opposed to conventional radiators which heat the air. So with infrared heating panels you will have a feeling of warmth in a room that’s actually cold.

They’re a simple heating system that don’t need to be connected to a heating system, such as a boiler. Instead they run on electricity and work independently of one another.

Infrared heating panel advantages

  • Highly efficient heating method which could reduce your energy bills
  • Solid walls and objects have thermal mass which means they retain heat which will keep the room warmer for longer
  • Able to reach the desired temperature within 30 seconds
  • No moving parts means they’re quiet in operation
  • Reduces air circulation (compared to conventional radiators) which will help to reduce risk of damp and mould
  • Dust won’t be circulated around the home (great news for asthmatics)
  • Some models can also act as a baby monitor or mirror

Infrared heating panel disadvantages

  • For the infrared panels to work efficiently, the space around them must be kept clear
  • Generally cost more than conventional heating systems

Infrared heating panel costs

Infrared heating panels can cost anywhere between £150 to upwards of £500 depending on the make and model. Then there’s the running costs. As we know, electricity is an expensive fuel. The UK average for standard rate electricity sits at 16.36p/kWh – that’s around 4 times higher than the 4.17p/kWh of natural gas.

However, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Infrared heating panels can have you feeling warmer in 30 seconds. This would take far longer for the other heating options for homes without gas. So they don’t need to be on for so long which could lead to your heating bills actually going down.

Impact on the environment

“As they work to heat the home, infrared panels don’t produce any emissions. This is because they’re powered by electricity and don’t burn any fuel. In this sense, your carbon footprint will be smaller. And so will your energy consumption as infrared panels don’t need to be on for so long.”

 
However, as with other electric heating systems, it’s how the electricity is generated in the first place which determines their impact on the environment.

Biomass boilers

Biomass boilers burn biomass fuel, namely wood chips, logs and pellets to provide a property with heating and hot water. They’re one of the largest heating systems around and additional space of around 10m² is needed to store the fuel. So you’ll need to be living in a property with plenty of space.

Biomass boiler advantages

  • Renewable source of fuel
  • Carbon neutral
  • Highly efficient heating systems of over 90%
  • Receive payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
  • Potentially heat your home for free (if you have access to a wooded area)

Biomass boiler disadvantages

  • Take up a substantial amount of space (that’s for the boiler itself and fuel storage)
  • One of the more expensive heating systems
  • Manual biomass boilers require you to clear out the ash

Biomass boiler costs

A biomass boiler is one of the most expensive heating options for homes without gas. The most expensive biomass boiler could see you paying up to £21,000 – although prices start from around £4,000. And this only includes the boiler, not the entire heating system (radiators), if you need to replace them too.

Biomass Boiler Costs
Manual biomass boiler £4,000 – £10,000
Automatic biomass boiler £9,000 – £21,000
Installation costs Up to £10,000

Fortunately, despite the potentially high upfront costs, you could actually see a return on your investment. This comes thanks to low running costs and the possibility of receiving payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Plus, until March 2022, you could be eligible to receive a Green Homes Grant of up to £5,000 to cover up to two-thirds of the upfront biomass boiler costs.

Impact on the environment

Burning wood to heat your home is a carbon neutral process. This means that the only carbon emitted into the atmosphere was absorbed by the tree as it grew. Then there’s the ash which can be used as compost.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps are growing in popularity and have become the renewable heating system of choice for many homes. There are two types of heat pump: air source and ground source.

Air source heat pumps: Using a fan, an air source heat pump draws in outside air and extracts the heat it contains. Some models can continue working in temperatures as low as -25C.

Ground source heat pumps: Absorb underground heat by circulating a refrigerant liquid through buried pipes. Underground temperatures sit at a consistent 10-15C all year-round as the ground absorbs heat from the sun.

Both types of heat pump need some outdoor space with ground source heat pumps being the most challenging to install. This is because the garden area needs to be dug up so that the pipes can be buried. Air source heat pumps, on the other hand, are an outdoor unit (around the size of a washing machine).

Heat pump advantages

  • Achieve efficiencies of 400% to 500%
  • Help to lower your heating bills
  • Can heat your home for twice as long as a conventional boiler (up to 25 years)
  • Need little in the way of maintenance
  • Eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive

Heat pump disadvantages

  • Relatively high upfront costs
  • Need electricity to operate
  • Heat to a lower temperature than boilers which makes them better suited to large radiators and underfloor heating
  • Your property needs to be well insulated to feel the benefit (this will help to make any heating system more effective)
  • Installation of a ground source heat pump can be disruptive

Heat pump costs

A heat pump can be a fairly significant investment. Particularly if you’re planning to have a ground source heat pump installed.

Heat Pump Costs
Air source heat pump £4,000 – £9,000
Ground source heat pump £8,000 – £12,000

While the upfront cost may be higher than a conventional boiler then but a heat pump won’t need to be replaced for 20-25 years. That’s twice as long as a boiler. Plus, you can receive up to £5,000 towards the upfront cost through the Green Homes Grant.

“Heat pumps are so efficient that, in addition to RHI payments, you could potentially see a return on your investment through your heating bills.”

 
The efficiency of a heat pump is shown as a Seasonal Coefficient of Performance (SCoP) – the higher the SCoP, the more efficient the heat pump. And we can use this to work out the potential running cost of a heat pump. If you’re paying the average standard rate for electricity of 16.46p/kWh, for a heat pump with a SCoP of 4 that’s 4.09p/kWh. With average gas prices standing at 4.17p/kWh, you could potentially see a saving.

When having a heat pump installed, you may also need to make further investments around your property. This means considering underfloor heating/larger radiators, a hot water cylinder and insulation.

Impact on the environment

When it comes to home heating, you can’t get more environmentally-friendly than a renewable heating system. And heat pumps fall into this category. The air and the ground are both sustainable forms of energy which are readily available and don’t emit carbon into the atmosphere.

Solar thermal panels

Solar thermal panels absorb heat from the sun to heat hot water in a cylinder via an immersion heater. So, for solar thermal panels to be suitable you’ll need a heating system which includes a hot water cylinder – as well as ample roof space.

Solar thermal advantages

  • Able to reduce heating bills by as much as 40-70% for a family of 4
  • Cheap to run as they solely rely on free energy from the sun
  • You could receive payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive
  • Help to lower your carbon footprint

Solar thermal disadvantages

  • Need to be installed as part of another heating system
  • Only ideal for installation on properties with a suitable roof
  • Can’t be installed as part of a heating system including a combi boiler

Solar thermal costs

The cost of a solar water heating system for your home will depend on how many individual panels you need. For an average family, prices tend to begin from around £3,000.

As well as solar panels, if your existing hot water cylinder isn’t solar compatible then it will need to be replaced.

Solar Thermal Costs
Solar thermal panels for family of 4 £3,000 – £5,000
Hot water cylinder £600 – £1,000

An MCS-certified solar installer will advise how many solar thermal panels will be needed to meet the demands of your home.

Impact on the environment

Installing solar thermal panels is one of the most efficient choices you can make when it comes to home heating. They solely rely on sustainable energy from the sun so don’t produce any emissions.

Which heating system is best for you?

Blink
There you have it, there are no shortage of heating options for homes without gas. Now you just need to decide which is best suited to heating your home.

A key theme with many of these alternative heating systems is space. Oil, LPG and biomass boilers all need additional space for fuel storage. Biomass boilers are also large heating systems before you even consider the fuel storage. Heat pumps also require some outdoor space – ground source heat pumps more than air source.

If you don’t have any outdoor space for fuel storage or a heat pump then an electric heating system – electric boiler or infrared panels – would be more suitable.

“The most like-for-like alternatives to gas boilers are oil and LPG. They’re able to meet high demand for heating and hot water if needed – just make sure the boiler type and size is right for your home. Small homes and flats with 1 bedroom and a shower would be better suited to an electric boiler.”

 

Get quotes for a new heating system

After considering the heating options for homes without gas, it’s now time to get quotes from an expert. No matter which heating system you’re considering, you can get free quotes right here on Boiler Guide.

Take a moment to complete our simple online form – letting us know which heating system you’d like installed – and in no time at all, you’ll be contacted by up to 3 local installers. Each installer will give you a free quote for the work. You’ll then be in a position to compare the quotes and find the most competitive price.


 


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