Home heating systems Options for heating your home

Boiler controls

Getting a modern boiler could shave hundreds off your heating bill, but can cost thousands to install

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.

Central heating

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.

Renewable energy

There are a number of ways you can generate your own energy at home from low or zero carbon ‘microgeneration’ technology, such as solar water heating systems, heat pumps and biomass boilers.

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 energyInstallation costAnnual energy bill savings for gas-heated homesAnnual 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 - £11,500about £100about £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.

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