Electric Boiler vs Gas Boiler: Pros, Cons and Running Costs
Around 80% of UK homes are using a gas boiler as part of their central heating system and it’s no surprise with gas being so cheap. Electricity, on the other hand, can be 3 times more expensive per unit but the installation is often cheaper and they don’t need to be serviced.
So could the benefits of an electric boiler make it the better option?
What is an electric boiler?
All modern boilers need an electricity supply to operate as many internal parts are electrical but the difference between electric boilers and gas boilers is that they provide central heating and domestic hot water using only electricity. Gas boilers, on the other hand, use natural gas.
Electric boilers are the ideal solution for properties that aren’t connected to the gas network or smaller homes that don’t have such a high demand for heating and hot water.
Electric boiler vs gas boiler: pros and cons
If your home is suited to an electric boiler, there are many benefits to installing one over a gas boiler.
|Electric boiler pros||Gas boiler pros|
|Quiet in operation||Natural gas is cheaper than electricity|
|No need for an annual service||Can meet higher demands for heating and hot water|
|Fewer moving parts so less chance of issues developing||More gas boiler manufacturers, giving you more units to choose from|
|No emissions from electricity at property||Gas supply is always readily available|
|No risk of a carbon monoxide leak||Gas boiler replacement is a simple process|
As well as the benefits, there are some important considerations to make when installing either boiler type. The key considerations being that electric boilers are more expensive to run, while gas boilers need to be serviced annually.
|Electric boiler cons||Gas boiler cons|
|Electricity is more expensive than gas||Need an annual boiler service|
|Not suitable for larger homes||More moving parts that could end up needing to be repaired|
|Will take up most of the usage e.g. 48 amps of a 60 amp fuse||Gas boilers are often bigger than electric boilers|
|Electricity production is considered carbon intensive||Risk of carbon monoxide leak|
Electric boiler vs gas boiler: running costs
Looking at the costs of electricity and gas side-by-side shows a big difference. Gas is very much cheaper with the average variable unit price of electricity in the UK sitting at 14.4p/kWh while gas is only 3.8p/kWh.
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.
So, there’s a big difference between the average unit prices of electricity and gas in the UK, but how efficiently are the boilers using this energy?
Electric vs gas boilers: which are 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%. This means that for every £1 spent on heating a property with a gas boiler, 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.
Find out more: Electric Boiler Efficiency Explained.
Electric boiler vs gas boiler: 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.
Like the price of a new boiler, the installation costs can vary greatly. Different installers will have different prices – which is why it’s important to get multiple quotes to compare – and there are several factors that can affect the price, such as the boiler being installed in a new location.
As they don’t need a flue, condensate pipe or gas line, electric boilers are normally the quickest and easiest of the two to install. Prices for both can vary from around £500 to upwards of £2,000.
To get the best possible price for a new boiler installation, we highly recommend comparing quotes from multiple installers.
As we know, electricity is more expensive than natural gas. If you were being charged the UK average of 14.4p/kWh to run a 12kW electric boiler that’s being used 70 hours per month, that would be cost around £120.96 monthly. Over the course of a year that’s a total of £1451.52.
Using the same hours a month for a 24kW combi gas boiler at the average unit price of 3.8p/kWh works out at £63.84 a month and an annual cost of £766. This means that the gas combi boiler running costs are around half the price of an electric boiler.
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. The amount of electricity used by the gas boiler won’t be as high as an electric boiler but if it was to use 4,448kWh over the course of a year, that would be an additional £45.36 a month.
By law, all gas boilers have to be serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer but electric boilers don’t need the same level of servicing.
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.
Total costs of electric and gas boilers
|Type of Cost||Electric Boiler Potential Costs (First Year)||Gas Boiler Potential Costs
|Gas running costs||–||£766|
|Electricity running costs||£1,451||£45|
Over the course of the first year, there’s roughly a £300 difference between the electric and gas boilers. Each year after that, you’ll only have to consider the running costs, servicing and any repairs. The table below shows the potential costs over the course of 10 years, after installation.
|Type of Cost||Electric Boiler Potential Costs Over 10 Years||Gas Boiler Potential Costs Over 10 Years|
|Gas running costs||–||£7,660|
|Electricity running costs||£14,510||£450|
Please note that the potential costs in both tables are all estimations and will vary depending on the boiler being installed, the price of installation and the price of electricity and gas being supplied to your property.
How to reduce electric boiler running costs
With electricity being an expensive fuel, you might want to look into ways of reducing costs. One such way is to install a solar PV system and power not only your electric boiler, but your property, with free renewable electricity.
Alternatively, it’s worth considering switching to an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff which offer reduced rates during the night – normally from midnight onwards. This way, the boiler can heat water during the night and keep it stored in the hot water cylinder until you need it.
Should you install an electric or gas boiler?
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.
Whether you want to install an electric or gas boiler, you can get free installation quotes from fully-qualified heating engineers using Boiler Guide.
Simply take a couple of minutes to complete our online form, letting us know about the work, and we’ll match you with heating engineers based in your local area.