Replacing your boiler
Boilers account for around 55% of what you spend in a year on energy bills, so an efficient boiler makes a big difference.
Replacing an old gas boiler with an A-rated high-efficiency condensing boiler and improving your heating controls will significantly cut your home's carbon dioxide emissions - and could save you as much as £310 a year.
This will depend on how old and inefficient your existing boiler is.
Old boiler rating
Carbon dioxide saving per year
|G ( < 70%)||£310||1,200kg|
These are estimated figures based on installing a new A-rated condensing boiler and full set of heating controls in a gas-heated, semi-detached gas heated home with three bedrooms.
The costs for replacing a boiler will vary, but a straightforward gas boiler replacement will typically cost around £2,300.
Modern boilers are more efficient for several reasons, but their main advantage is that they are all condensing boilers. All well-maintained boilers burn their fuel very efficiently, but they inevitably lose some heat in the hot gases that escape up the flue. A condensing boiler has a bigger heat exchanger, so it recovers more heat, sends cooler gases up the flue and is more efficient.
Sometimes the flue gases get so cool that the water vapour in the gas condenses out (hence the name). When this happens, even more energy is recovered from the condensing vapour, and the efficiency gets higher still.
If it is time to change your boiler, then the first thing is to decide what type of boiler you need.
The right fuel
If you have mains gas, then a gas boiler is usually the cheapest heating system for you.
If you currently have an oil, LPG or coal boiler, then it might be worth looking into the cost of getting gas supplied to your home. If there is no gas pipe near your home then this is not an option, but if it's available just round the corner then it might be worth paying for a new connection to get cheaper fuel.
You could also consider a wood-fuelled or biomass boiler. These burn logs, pellets or chips, and are connected to your central heating and hot water system; some models can be automatically fed. Installation costs can be high, but if you replaced electric heating with a wood-burning system you could save as much as £630 a year. Find out more about wood-fuelled heating.
The right boiler
Most old gas and oil boilers are regular boilers - they have a separate hot water cylinder to store hot water, rather than providing it directly from the boiler. When you replace your boiler you have a choice of buying a new regular boiler, and keeping your hot water cylinder, or buying a combi boiler that doesn't need a cylinder.
A regular boiler is actually more efficient than a combi at producing hot water in the first place, but then some heat is lost from the hot water cylinder, so a combi may be more efficient overall. The best option for you will depend on a number of factors:
- How much hot water do you use? A large family using lots of hot water could be better off with a regular boiler – a smaller household using less may be better off with a combi.
- Are you short of space? A combi boiler doesn’t need a hot water cylinder, and so needs less space.
- Are you thinking of installing solar water heating? Many combis are not compatible with solar water heating or cannot use it so effectively.
Once you've decided on the type of boiler, you then need to make sure that you choose the most efficient model and get it installed safely and legally. You can make sure your boiler is of the highest efficiency by choosing an Energy Saving Trust Recommended boiler:
For gas and LPG boilers, the installer must be Gas Safe registered. For oil boilers we would recommend that you use an OFTEC registered installer. You can find registered installers at www.gassaferegister.co.uk and www.oftec.co.uk
It’s worth getting three quotations from installers. You may also want to check that installers:
- have a local office
- have been in business locally for several years
- have customer references that you can check.
The Heating and Hotwater industry Council website at centralheating.co.uk also has advice and information, including a useful list of what should be included on a quote, and everything you should be told after your new boiler is fitted.
Your registered installer will ensure that your system complies with Building Regulations, and will make sure you get all the documentation to prove this. Keep these documents safe – you will need them when you sell the property.
Heat recovery devices and systems
Energy Saving Trust Recommended heat recovery systems can save up to 17% of the energy used in heating your water. Some of the heat generated by your boiler escapes through the flue. Passive flue gas heat recovery systems capture some of this lost energy and use it to heat your water, making your heating system more efficient and saving money.
Hot water cylinders
Energy Saving Trust Recommended hot water cylinders have been factory insulated to help keep your hot water at the right temperature for longer. They play an important role in supplying you with readily available hot water, so it’s important that they are fully insulated to prevent heat escaping.
Upgrading your hot water cylinder to an Energy Saving Trust Recommended one can save you around £45 a year. They are already highly insulated and are ready to be installed, so make sure you look for the label and choose an Energy Saving Trust Recommended product to help you save the most energy and money.