Wondering what the best heating system is for your home? From gas to solar panels, we give you an overview of the various heating systems available – including the types of home they’re right for.
How you heat your home is extremely important. Not only will the best heating system keep you cosy in winter, it will also help ensure your energy bills stay as low as possible. But with so many different types of home heating systems available, which is best for your home?
Gas central heating is the most common in England, Scotland and Wales, but more than one million homes aren’t connected to the gas grid. This is more common in rural areas or blocks of flats. In Northern Ireland, 70% of homes are heated with oil.
Natural gas only became available in 1996, starting in Greater Belfast and Larne. Heating options if you’re off the gas grid include LPG, oil and electric. If you’ve inherited one of these central heating systems, read on to find out more about your home heating system.
We explain the different heating systems available for your home, including renewable energy, plus how you can cut your bills.
Gas central heating
If your house is connected to the national gas grid, a gas-fired central heating system is usually the cheapest option for heating your home. You can save money on long-term running costs by choosing a reliable, efficient boiler when your existing model packs up. Check the best boiler brands, according to boiler owners and engineers, plus find out which brands to steer clear of. A quick and easy way to cut your heating bills is to use your heating controls to minimise the amount of energy you use.
Biomass heating systems
An alternative to using gas, electricity, oil or LPG to heat your home is to install a biomass or wood heating system. These burn organic material, such as logs or wood pellets, to provide heat and hot water. Most people buy a wood burning stove to help make their living room more cosy. But you can also connect the stove to a boiler to heat your hot water and the rest of your home. To find out more about wood burners, including whether or not they can really help cut your energy bill, see our detailed guide to wood burning stoves.
Electric central heating
Night-storage heaters, coupled with Economy 7 or Economy 10 electricity tariffs, are the most common setup for electric central heating. Storage heaters are common in flats, especially new builds.
LPG central heating
Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) central heating is used to heat some homes. Delivered by tanker, it’s usually stored in a tank in the garden.
Oil central heating
The most common power for home heating systems in Northern Ireland, you’ll need a tank outside your home to store fuel for oil central heating.
Immersion heaters and storage heaters
Immersion heaters (sometimes known as megaflow boilers or unvented hot water systems) and storage heaters are both parts of electric heating systems. The former heats water, the latter heats the space inside your home.
Another option for heating your home is generating your own energy from low or zero carbon microgeneration technology. Making your own heat, instead of using mains gas and electricity, or other fossil fuel heating, reduces your carbon footprint. It also means you’re less dependent on sources of energy that are increasingly subject to global demand, and are therefore likely to have high and volatile prices in future. Renewable energy heating systems include:
wood burning stoves
solar water heating systems
Generating your own electricity
You can also generate your own electricity from solar panels, or wind turbines. Usually homeowners install solar PV panels to power their electrical appliances, or even charge an electric vehicle, rather than to power central heating. Solar panels will generate most electricity during periods of bright sunshine, which are less likely to coincide with when you want to use your heating.