Home heating systems Options for heating your home
With high oil, gas and electricity prices looking like they’re here to stay, it’s more important than ever that we heat our homes in the most efficient way. Using less energy is the best way to cut your bills (see our guide to using less electricity for tips), but this doesn't mean having to live in a cold, dark home.
If your house is connected to the national gas grid, you could get a gas-fired central heating system, and this is usually the cheapest option. Our gas boiler reviews reveal which models come from Which? recommended reliable boiler brands - and which we think you should avoid. Also take a look at our guide to using your boiler heating controls to save you energy and money.
However, 3.6 million households in the UK are not connected to the gas grid and rely on other forms of fuel to heat their homes: electricity, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), heating oil and/or renewable technologies. See the related pages in this guide for more information on each heating option.
Making your own energy instead of using mains gas and electricity reduces your carbon footprint. It also means you’re less dependent on sources of energy that are increasingly subject to global demand and are likely to have high and volatile prices in future.
Cost of renewable energy systems
If you're considering installing microgeneration technology in your home, it’s important to take a long-term view. Renewable energy may look more expensive, but as the cost of oil, gas and electricity continues to rise, the time it takes to get your money back on an investment in microgeneration should come down.
In addition, the government will soon announce details of a financial incentive, the Renewable Heat Incentive, which will pay you to generate renewable heat, meaning these technologies will become more cost-effective. In the meantime, the RHI premium payment is currently available under RHI. It's important, however, to ensure your property is suitable for the technology you choose, as not all properties have a suitable south-facing roof or a garden.
Our table below shows how much you can expect to save each year when installing different renewable technologies in your home, including microgeneration technologies that produce electricity.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity, while solar thermal panels heat water. You can now get cashback on solar PV panels thanks to the Feed-in Tariff. Cashback applies to other electricity-generating technologies, such as wind and hydropower, but not to technologies generating heat, such as solar thermal panels. However, these will soon qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive which will pay people to generate their own heat.
|Cost of alternative energy|
|Alternative energy||Installation cost||Annual energy bill savings for gas-heated homes||Annual energy bill savings for electric-heated homes|
|Solar PV (3.5kWp)||about £7,000||£110 + FIT||£110 + FIT|
|Solar thermal||£3,000 - £5,000||£60||£90|
|Ground source heat pump||£9,000 - £17,000||£-40 - £70||£420 - £530|
|Air source heat pump||£6,000 - £10,000||£-130 - £70||£330 - £530|
|Wood-fuelled heating||£2,000 - £11,500||about £100||about £580|
Using the table
Savings are based on a three-bed semi-detached house and are based on data from the Energy Saving Trust. Installation costs: Indicative cost of equipment and installation. Annual savings: Estimated for homes currently heated by gas or electricity. Savings for heat pumps are based on EST's field trials and are given as a range depending on the performance of the heat pump.