Types of Heating Systems Explained

How you heat your home is extremely important for several reasons. Firstly, efficient home heating will keep you warm in colder months, but different types of heating systems will impact your energy bill too. Therefore, your choice could also be the difference in how far your money goes; and it’s in your best interest to keep bills as low as possible.

Additionally, different types of heating systems will have different impacts on the environment. Therefore, if you’re thinking about a way to re-establish the eco-friendliness of your home, choosing greener heating systems and energy efficient radiators is a good place to start – but more on that in a bit.

With so many different types of heating systems available, it can become overwhelming trying to figure out which is best for your home. Gas central heating is the most common in England, Scotland, and Wales. However, you might be surprised to learn that over one million UK homes are not connected to the gas grid according to statistics. This is particularly common in more rural areas. Natural gas only became available in 1996 in Northern Ireland, with most homes still being heated with oil! Indeed, when homes aren’t on a gas grid, LPG, oil, and electric are the most common types of heating systems.

The following guide by Stelrad provides an overview of the different types of heating systems available for your home, including some information on the future of renewable energy. If you’re looking for further advice on the best ways to run domestic central heating during the winter months, or general tips on choosing the best radiators for your home, please check out our online advice page.

An Overview of Different Types of Heating Systems in the UK

Gas Central Heating  

Gas central heating is probably one of the most well-known types of heating systems in the UK. It’s also one of the cheapest options for heating your home, especially if you choose a reliable, efficient boiler in place of older models. Choosing the right boiler is key to getting the most gas for your buck. Thereafter, it’s about adopting smart habits and efficient heating controls to help you cut your heating bills even further.

Biomass Heating Systems

A biomass or wood heating system is an alternative to many finite energy resources such as gas and oil etc. Biomass heating systems burn organic material such as logs or wood pellets to provide a home with heating and hot water. Biomass heating systems are commonly recognised in the form of a log burning stove which has an aesthetic appeal in most interiors given the cosy ambience it creates. You can connect biomass heating systems to your boiler to provide hot water and heat the whole home. Biomass heating systems can be appealing to many. However, your uptake of this type of heating system may depend on geographics and the ease of access to logs and wood pellet supplies. For example, it may not be the most practical for urban city living.

Electric Central Heating

Electric central heating could mean one of two things. First of all, replacing an old gas-powered boiler with an electricity-powered boiler. The most common setup for electric central heating is night-storage heaters coupled with Economy 7 or Economy 10 electricity tariffs. Secondly, it could mean replacing old radiators with smart electric radiators. Electric radiators plug in around your house and heat your entire home without a boiler – modern day central heating. For example, you can get dual radiators that work independently via electric and also via the central heating system – this can provide you with some flexibility for heating your home.

LPG & Oil Central Heating

This is one of the most common types of heating systems in more rural areas. LPG central heating is normally used in a ‘wet’ heating system, where an LPG-fired boiler heats water, which provides central heating through radiators and hot water to the taps in your home. The LPG is usually stored in a tank in the garden.

Immersion Heaters & Storage Heater

Also known as Megaflow boilers or unvented hot water systems, immersion heaters and storage heaters are both parts of electric heating systems. While the former heats water, the latter heats the space inside your home.

Different Types of Heating Systems Ranked on Cost

There are many different types of heating systems in the UK. They are vital for warmth and comfortable living given our colder weather changes in comparison to other countries. It’s a necessity, therefore it pays to have a heating system that provides the most warmth for your money.

On average, gas per unit is four times cheaper than electric, costing approximately £600 annually in comparison to over £1,800 in electricity bills. Heating oil would be on par with gas, whereas LPG is almost just as expensive as electric.

Gas is by far the most cost-effective option for heating your home, with electricity topping the chart! However, in some cases where homeowners live off the gas grid, electricity and LPG may be the only options – do try and choose cost-effective providers with discounts to make sure your energy is working for you.

Furthermore, there are a few different factors that will impact the cost of heating your home. Some examples include:

  • Insulation
  • Choice of radiator

The Future: Types of House Heating Systems UK

Another greener option for heating your home is generating energy from low or zero carbon microgeneration technology. Rather than using mains gas and electricity or other fossil fuels, making your own heat will reduce the carbon footprint. With the ever-increasing attention on climate change and many homeowners making an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, the home energy you choose is key. 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
  • heat pumps
  • biomass boilers

It is possible to generate your own electricity from solar panels, or wind turbines. Homeowners can install solar PV panels to power their electrical appliances, or even charge their electric vehicles rather than to power central heating. Of course, solar panels retain most energy during periods of bright sunshine, therefore it helps to live in more sunny parts of the UK for this option.