Oil vs Electric Heating: Pros, Cons & Costs
No gas heating, no problem.
For off-grid homes, there are still plenty of heating options to choose between. Oil has proven itself as the fuel of choice but electric boilers are a great option. Which is best for your home will depend on the size of your home.
You can find the right heating system for your home as we compare Electric vs Oil Boilers.
Note: Before we compare oil vs electric heating, if you live in a home with more than 1 bathroom and over 10 radiators, an oil boiler is your best bet. Electric boilers are designed to meet heating demands of smaller homes.
Electric boiler: Pros & cons
Electric boilers turn electricity into heat so don’t burn fuel (like oil boilers). This itself is a big advantage as there are no emissions and the chances of something going wrong are even more unlikely.
Electric boiler advantages
You’ll hardly hear a peep out of an electric boiler. As there’s no need to burn fuel, it can quietly get on with heating your home and hot water.
Less chance of a fault
Electric boilers have fewer moving parts than oil boilers which reduces the risk of a fault. While all modern boilers are extremely reliable things can go wrong if they’re not well maintained.
Fuel doesn’t need to be stored
Alongside the oil boiler, you’ll also need an oil tank to store the fuel. These are fitted outside and can take up a fair amount of space.
Electricity, on the other hand, is supplied on demand as and when you need it.
No risk of a leak
Unlike oil, electricity doesn’t need to be stored in a tank at your property. This means there’s absolutely no risk of a leak from the tank.
You’ll also be completely safe from a carbon monoxide leak. This is a harmful gas that can be produced by oil boilers if faulty. However, modern boilers are designed to lock out at the first sign of a fault to prevent the risk of a carbon monoxide leak.
As there’s no fuel to burn, electric boilers don’t emit carbon into the atmosphere. Oil and gas boilers do.
Electric boilers don’t produce any waste gases so this removes the need for a flue pipe. The flue is an essential part of oil and gas boilers and sends waste gases away from your home.
As there’s no need for a flue, you will have far more flexibility when it comes to finding a place to fit the boiler.
Pair with solar for free heating
Rather than relying on an energy supplier to provide your electricity, you could generate it yourself. Solar PV panels turn solar energy into electricity which can power your boiler. As well as other electrical appliances around your home.
This would also boost your electric boilers credentials as a green boiler.
As well as many advantages, you will need to make a few considerations before fitting an electric boiler.
More expensive than oil
The standard rate for electricity is 16.36p/kWh compared to 4.81p/kWh for oil. That’s a considerable difference and one that could add up over time.
As we mentioned, a solar PV system could provide you with free renewable electricity. During the day at least.
Best suited to smaller homes
Electric boilers aren’t powerful enough to meet the higher demands of larger homes with several bathrooms.
Most electricity production emits carbon
Electricity generation is considered carbon intensive.That’s because most of the electricity sent to homes was made by burning fossil fuels. A process which releases carbon into the atmosphere.
However, renewable electricity generation is on the rise. And if you’re with a green energy supplier then you can be guaranteed carbon-free electricity.
Oil boiler: Pros & cons
Oil boilers have been the go-to heating system for off-grid homes for many years. That’s likely to be because they’re the most similar to gas boilers. They’re equally efficient, as reliable and available in a range of output ratings (measurement of the boiler’s power). The main difference being that oil needs to be stored at the property.
A cheaper fuel than electricity
Standard rate of electricity is around three times higher than oil. This will vary depending on your supplier.
Some oil boilers can be installed outside
External oil boilers give you the option to fit your new boiler outside. So you’ll be saving room inside.
There are far more oil boiler manufacturers than electric boilers. This not only gives you more choice but increases your chances of finding a suitable heating system.
Not as efficient as electric boilers
Electric boilers are close to 100% efficient. As oil is a fossil fuel, there will always be some waste when burned. This sees most modern condensing oil boilers hit efficiencies around 92%.
Burning oil releases carbon into the atmosphere. This is bad for the environment and a leading cause of climate change.
Costs are rising
Supplies of oil aren’t infinite. And as they continue to decrease, the price of oil will only go up.
Additional space is needed for an oil tank
As well as the boiler, you’ll also need somewhere to store the oil. This means having an oil storage tank fitted. These can be a bit of an eyesore and will take up extra space. But you can choose to have it fitted underground.
Tanks can leak
If the oil tank isn’t well maintained then it can leak. The main cause of leaking is corrosion which can happen with age. Any oil that gets out of the tank is poisonous to wildlife, soil and groundwater.
A separate fuel may be needed for cooking
You may also need to store another fuel separately to use for cooking.
Oil vs Electric heating: What are the upfront costs?
An oil boiler will cost more than an electric boiler.
The price tag of oil and electric boilers start at roughly the same point – around the £1,000 mark. But there’s far more to consider with an oil boiler, such as a flue pipe and storage tank. Installation costs are also likely to be higher as they’re more complicated to fit.
|Oil Boiler||Electric Boiler|
|Potential Upfront Cost||£1,000 – £4,000||£1,100 – £2,500|
|Typical Installation Costs||£1,000 – £1,500||£500 – £1,000|
Keeping installation costs to a minimum is sure to be one of your priorities and that’s where we can help. You can get free quotes from up to 3 boiler installers near you today.
Is it cheaper to heat a home with electricity or oil?
It’s cheaper to heat a home with oil than electricity.
Electricity prices have always been high but could come down if renewable generation rises. That means seeing more electricity on the grid being provided by renewable sources like solar and wind.
Meanwhile, oil supplies will eventually run out. And as they begin to run low, prices will gradually increase over time.
Still, at the moment, oil is far cheaper than electricity. Natural gas, however, remains the cheapest fuel.
|Fuel||Average cost in pence per kilowatt-hour (England, Scotland and Wales)|
|Electricity (standard rate)||16.36|
|Off-Peak Economy 7 Electricity||9.76|
|On-Peak Economy 7 Electricity||20.03|
Gas boilers vs Electric boilers
Installing an oil boiler should only cross your mind if you live off-grid. Otherwise, a natural gas boiler makes the most sense. You could also consider an electric boiler if you live in a small house or flat.
If your home is connected to the gas network then compare Gas Boilers vs Electric Boilers.
Alternative heating systems
We’ve compared oil vs electric heating but these aren’t the only options for off-grid homes. You also have the option of a renewable heating system.
Renewable, or low-carbon, heating systems include heat pumps, solar thermal panels and biomass boilers.
Rather than completely switching to a renewable heating system, you can install a heat pump alongside your boiler. This is known as a hybrid heating system. The system will automatically switch between the boiler and heat pump depending on which will run most efficiently at the time.
It’s worth noting that you can’t rely on solar thermal panels to provide all of your hot water. They can typically provide between 40% and 70% of a home’s demand for hot water. So you will need a boiler too.
Earn Renewable Heat Incentive payments
By installing a renewable heating system, you could be entitled to payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive. This is a reward for heating your home in a way that’s good for the planet.
Eligible heating systems include:
- Air source heat pumps
- Ground source heat pumps
- Solar thermal panels
- Biomass boilers
You can find out more in our article on the Renewable Heat Incentive.
Which heating system is the most energy efficient?
Heat pumps are the most efficient heating systems.
An air source or ground source heat pump can make 3-5 times more energy than it uses. That’s an efficiency of up to 5,000%.
Modern condensing oil and gas boilers – the most popular heating systems – have efficiencies around 92%. Biomass boilers have a similar efficiency level but, as they burn woord, are carbon neutral.
Solar thermal panels reach efficiencies of around 70%. On the face of it, the lowest of all of these heating systems. However, there are no running costs whatsoever.
Oil vs Electric heating: Which is right for your home?
If your home has more than one bathroom and over 10 radiators, you should turn to an oil boiler over an electric boiler. Electric boilers simply don’t have the power to meet the higher demands of larger homes.
So if you’ve had an oil boiler for a number of years, and are looking for a change, then a renewable heating system could be the better option.
Your next step to getting a new boiler
You can get free quotes for the installation of any boiler type right here on Boiler Guide.
No matter whether you’re looking to have an oil or electric boiler fitted, you’ll find qualified installers right here.
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