Electric Boiler vs Gas Boiler: Pros, Cons and Running Costs
An electric boiler can be a more efficient and environmentally-friendly alternative to the conventional gas boiler. However, electric boiler running costs can add up when you consider that electricity is much more expensive than natural gas.
Our electric boiler vs gas boiler guide will help you to find the most suitable heating system for your home.
Electric vs Gas boilers
What is a gas boiler?
A gas boiler burns natural gas to generate heat for the central heating and domestic hot water. The natural gas is delivered to the property by an energy supplier on demand as and when needed.
Properties that aren't connected to the gas network can still have a gas boiler installed. However, rather than natural gas, it will need to run on LPG. LPG is a natural gas alternative which is a liquid. Rather than being supplied to the property as and when needed from the grid, it is stored onsite in a tank. Read more about LPG boilers here.
Natural gas boilers are the most commonly installed heating system in the UK. As of 2020, around 80% of homes in the UK rely on gas central heating.
What is an electric boiler?
All modern boilers need a supply of electricity to operate. The difference between an electric boiler and a gas boiler, however, is that electric boilers use the electricity as fuel.
Rather than burning fuel, electric boilers convert electricity into heat to provide central heating and domestic hot water.
An electric boiler is an ideal solution for properties that aren't connected to the gas network or smaller homes with a low demand for heating and hot water.
Find out more about electric boilers or watch the short video below:
Weighing up the pros and cons
While natural gas has proved to be an effective fuel for home heating, there's no hiding the fact that it isn't kind to the environment. As a fossil fuel, natural gas releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when burned. These greenhouse gases are a leading cause of climate change and home heating accounts for around 14% of all UK emissions. Read more in our article about low carbon heating systems and the future of home heating here.
One way to combat the impact home heating is having on the environment is through the electrification of heating.
For smaller 1 bedroom homes and flats an electric boiler is the ideal low-carbon heating system. However, they're unable to meet the higher demands for heating and hot water in larger homes. And in this respect, natural gas holds the upper hand.
Despite this, electric boilers do have many advantages over gas boilers.
|Electric Boiler Advantages||Gas Boiler Advantages|
|Extremely quiet during operation||Natural gas is a cheaper fuel source than electricity|
|Zero risk of a carbon monoxide leak as waste gases aren't produced during operation||Able to meet higher demands for central heating and domestic hot water|
|Far fewer moving parts which significantly decreases the risk of a fault developing||There are more gas boilers available on the market, giving you a greater range to choose between|
|No emissions are produced as the electric boiler works to heat the property||A like-for-like gas boiler replacement is a simple process for a Gas Safe registered engineer|
As well as the benefits, there are some important considerations to make when installing either boiler type - a key point being that electric boilers are more expensive to run.
|Electric Boiler Disadvantages||Gas Boiler Disadvantages|
|Electricity is a more expensive fuel than natural gas||An annual boiler service is highly recommend and essential if installed in a rental property or to keep the warranty valid|
|Not able to meet the heating and hot water demands of larger properties||Made up of more moving parts when can lead to a greater number of potential faults|
|During operation, an electric boiler will take up most of the energy usage (e.g. 48 amps of a 60 amp fuse)||A gas boiler unit will, more often than not, take up more space than an electric boiler|
|Electricity production is considered carbon intensive (although this is declining as renewable energy generation increases)||Carbon monoxide is produced during operation which could leak into the property if there's a fault|
How much do they cost to run?
One of the reasons natural gas has become a popular fuel for heating systems in the UK is that it's inexpensive. Especially when compared to electricity.
|Fuel||Average Cost in England, Scotland and Wales (pence per kilowatt-hour)|
|Electricity (standard rate)||16.36|
|Electricity (off-peak economy 7)||9.76|
|Electricity (on-peak economy 7)||20.03|
When it comes to electricity, you don't always have to rely on a supplier. This is because renewable energy generation is now accessible to anyone.
A solar PV system converts solar energy into electricity that can be used to power the appliances in a home – including an electric boiler. So, during daylight hours you could effectively be heating your home for free.
In the evening or during the night, after the sun has set, solar panels aren't able to generate energy. This could mean having to turn back to your supplier. However, a solar battery could take your energy savings even further.
During the day, solar panels will be generating more energy than can be used by a home. Any excess will be automatically sent to the National Grid and distributed around the energy network. With a solar battery, you'll be able to hold onto more of the energy generated by your solar panels. During the day, the solar battery will store as much energy as its capacity will allow for use when the solar panels aren't able to generate free renewable electricity.
Electricity costs from region to region
It's a little known fact that the cost of electricity will vary depending on which area of the UK you live in. When suppliers set their prices, the following factors contribute to the price per unit from region to region:
- How much energy is sold by the supplier in your area
- How much energy the supplier buys from the area's generators
- The charges the energy supplier faces by the local distribution network (differs from region to region)
In the UK, the East Midlands and Yorkshire (13.9p/kWh) are the cheapest regions, while North Scotland (15.6p/kWh) is typically the most expensive.
Costs to install
When it comes to the installation of any boiler type, there are many variables that can impact the final cost. Firstly, there's the cost of the boiler itself. Electric and gas boilers are similarly priced but with more gas boilers on the market, it's possible to find a cheaper gas boiler than electric.
On top of the price of the boiler are the installation costs. And those installation costs can be affected by a number of things, including the location of the boiler, boiler size, and the rates of the installer.
This means that electric boiler or gas boiler installation costs can fluctuate greatly on a case to case basis.
As they don't need a flue, condensate pipe or gas line, electric boilers are normally the quickest, easiest and cheapest option when it comes to electric boilers vs gas boilers. Prices for both can vary from around £500 to upwards of £2,000.
Because installers all set different prices for installation it's important to get multiple quotes and compare them.
Which boiler is the most efficient?
Electric boilers normally have an efficiency rating of 99-100%, while the maximum efficiency of gas boilers is rarely more than 93%.
So with a boiler that’s 93% efficient, for every £1 spent on heating a property, 7p is wasted on lost energy. On the other hand, there's little to no energy lost with electric boilers.
While some electric boilers boast a 100% efficiency rating, you'll notice that they have an ErP D-rating. This is compared to the A-rating awarded to gas boilers, making it hard to compare boilers of different fuel types.
The reason for electric boilers having a low ErP rating is down to electricity being expensive to run as a result of the generation process which, in the UK, is mostly done using fossil fuels. As a result, electricity is considered carbon intensive and isn't considered efficient. Having said this, the energy generation landscape is changing. Renewable energy generation has increased massively in recent years. So there are times when electricity has a lower carbon intensity than natural gas. Eventually, this could see the ErP rating given to electric boilers increase sooner rather than later.
Comparing the efficiency of electric, gas and oil boilers side-by-side can be challenging because despite being 99-100% efficient, electric boilers tend to have an ErP rating of D. On the other hand, all condensing gas and oil boilers must reach a minimum efficiency level of 92%, yet this is enough to award them an ErP A-rating.
|Manufacturer||Boiler model||Fuel type||Output||Energy efficiency||ErP rating|
|Ferroli||LEB TS||Electric||12 kW||99.5%||D|
|Worcester Bosch||Greenstar 9i||Gas||9 kW||93%||A|
Which works out cheaper?
Electric boiler running costs might be higher than gas boilers but there are many benefits of an electric boiler that could save you money over the years.
So before you choose a gas boiler over an electric boiler, based on the running costs alone, consider the savings you could be making elsewhere with an electric boiler. To work out and compare the total costs of electric and gas boilers, we'll need to consider:
- Price of the boiler
- Running costs
- Annual service
Cost of the boiler itself
The first factor to consider is the price of the boiler, which will vary depending on the model and the type of boiler. Typically, electric boiler cost starts from around £1,000 with gas boiler prices starting from £500 but potentially stretching to over £2,000.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, the installation cost of a new boiler can vary greatly. However, prices for both can vary from around £500 to upwards of £2,000.
Electricity can be as much as 3 times more expensive than gas per kilowatt-hour. However, an electric boiler consumes around half as much energy as a gas boiler.
So, let’s find out how much you might pay annually if you install a 22 kW electric boiler and pay 14.4p/kWh of energy. On average, a UK home has the heating on for 7.5 hours a day (source: gov.uk) so on a daily basis 165 kWh of energy is being used (22kW x 7.5 hours). If we then multiply rate of electricity by the kWh of energy used, we can see that we’re paying roughly £23.76 per day. This would take annual costs over £8,500. Remember this will differ depending on how often your boiler is on and the rate you’re paying for electricity.
If we do the same calculations but with a 24 kW gas boiler being used 7.5 hours a day over the course of the year, with the fuel costing 4.17p/kWh, that comes to around £7.50 per day. However, gas boilers also use electricity as many of the parts, such as the PCB, fan and digital display are all electrical. This means we also need to factor some electricity consumption for the gas boiler too.
It's highly recommended to have your gas boiler serviced annually by a gas Safe registered engineer to ensure it's running safely. They're also essential to keep the warranty valid. If you're a landlord then having the gas boiler serviced in your rental properties needs to be done by law. Electric boilers don't need the same level of servicing but they're still recommended.
A gas boiler service should take at least 30 minutes and could cost between £50 to £160, with those living in London being charged more than rural areas. So, if you had your gas boiler for 10 years and were charged £100 for each service, that's a total of £1,000 in boiler services during its lifetime.
Electric boilers don't have any moving parts which makes them much less likely to need any repairs than a gas boiler. The price of repairing or replacing parts on a gas boiler can vary from £150 for minor work to £400 for something more serious.
As there's no guarantee you will need a boiler repair, we won't add this into the equation, however, it's something to keep in mind.
Which is right for your home?
Gas combi boiler running costs make them the cheapest option but for small homes, flats or properties off the gas network, an electric boiler is well worth considering. The installation is much simpler, the unit can be installed just about anywhere and no carbon is emitted by electric boilers. Properties with more than a single bathroom would be better suited to a gas boiler as they can deliver more power.
Renewable alternatives to gas and electric boilers
Replacing a gas boiler with an electric boiler is a great way to lower the carbon footprint of a property. However, as electric boilers are only able to meet the heating and hot water demands of smaller properties, how can larger homes become more environmentally-friendly?
Renewable heating systems such as heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal panels all convert natural resources into usable energy.
Air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps extract heat from the air or ground. The air contains heat that can be used to heat a property even in temperatures below 0°C while underground temperatures sit at a constant 10-15°C.
Biomass boilers operate much like conventional boilers. They burn plant-based organisms such as wood pellets, chips and logs. The heat produced when burning the material warms up the water is then used to provide central heating and domestic hot water. If you have access to an outdoor area then you could potentially fuel the biomass boiler for free. Some biomass boilers need to be fed the fuel manually while others do this automatically.
Solar thermal panels use solar energy to heat the water stored in a hot water cylinder via an immersion heater. The water within a hot water is then circulated to hot water outlets around the home when needed. So while solar thermal panels could provide you with free domestic hot water, a separate heating system will be needed for central heating. This could either be a boiler, heat pump or infrared panels.
Infrared panels are a recent development in home heating. While traditional radiators use convection to heat the space in a room, infrared directly heats the people and objects. This means that you could sit in a cold room but feel comfortably warm. Infrared heat is a very safe way to heat your home and is even used in baby incubators.
More alternatives to gas
Alternatives to gas boilers don't have to be renewable. LPG is another gaseous fuel but rather than being delivered through a pipe network, it's stored on site – similar to oil. For properties that aren't connected to the gas network LPG and oil are effective alternatives to natural gas.
Conventional heating systems, such as gas and oil boilers, are the most affordable.
|Heating System||Potential Cost|
|Infrared Panels||£150 – £500+ (per panel)|
|Air Source Heat Pump||£4,000 – £11,000|
|Ground Source Heat Pump||£8,000 – £12,000|
|Solar Thermal||£3,000 – £7,000|
|Biomass Boiler||£4,000 – £21,000|
|LPG Boiler||£500 – £2,000|
While renewable heating systems tend to be more expensive than electric boilers and gas boilers, you can earn payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The RHI is a government scheme that rewards homeowners for heating their home using a renewable heating system.
It has been announced that from 2022, the RHI will be replaced by the Clean Heat Grant. This new scheme would see homeowners receive a grant of up to £4,000 to help with the upfront costs of having a renewable heating system installed.
Explore your renewable heating options in Types of Renewable Energy.
Get quotes for a new boiler
At Boiler Guide, we have a network of electric and gas boiler installers right across the UK. And by taking a few moments to complete our simple online form, we can connect you with those who complete boiler installations in your area. As soon as you've completed the form, we'll begin using the information about your boiler installation to match you with suitable installers. Once we've done so, up to 3 installers will be in touch to provide you with a free quote.
By comparing multiple quotes, you can be confident that you're getting the most competitive price. If you were to receive and accept a quote, you wouldn't know if you were being overcharged.
Our service is completely free and there's no-obligation to accept any of the quotes you receive.