Why would you want to replace your central heating system?
Central heating provides you and your family with hot water and piping hot radiators in every room in your home. Before it was invented, normally only one or two rooms in any home were heated and, in the colder months, going to bed in December was unbearable! Most of us have experienced a central heating breakdown once or more in our lives and it’s true to say that when it’s not there, you really miss it.
Central heating does this in a very clever way. It uses a system of pipes that snake through your home which are all connected to the source of hot water – usually, your boiler. These pipes connect to your taps and to your radiators. You can even control the temperature of the radiators with a central control panel or by using controls fitted to each individual radiator.
The vast majority of homes in the UK now have central heating so why would you want to replace your existing system? The main reasons are:
Most central heating boilers should be replaced every 10-15 years. If your central heating boiler is struggling, it probably means that the rest of your system is as well.
- Old systems are not very efficient
Does it feel like your utility bills, especially your gas bill, are way too high for the home you’re living in? Old central heating systems are far less efficient than modern ones meaning that you could be paying £100s more a year on gas a year than you need to.
- Old systems cost a lot to put right when things go wrong
Repair bills can be very high for existing central heating systems, especially if they’re 15 years or more old, because spares are hard to come by and command a premium.
- You have an electric central heating system
Unfortunately, that’s like taking a match to hundreds of pounds or more of your income every year. If you’re connected to the gas grid, you need to replace your current central heating system with a gas one and we’ll explain why later in this article.
Central Heating system types
There are three main types of central heating systems available in the UK. Each one works in a different way and each is suitable for certain types of installation and not others. Here are the basic facts about the three central heating system types:
Storage heaters - central heating boilers
A central heating system which relies on a boiler to provide hot water to your home is called a storage heater system. Storage heaters take advantage of cheaper electricity rates to heat the water needed for your home for the next day (the cheaper rates are called Economy 7 and Economy 10).
They keep the water hot not by heating the boiler itself up but by heating up bricks which store the heat. By doing this, the water remains hot for a lot longer than if the water itself was heated.
Warm air systems
Warm air systems are still very popular in Europe and in North America but, in the last twenty years here in the UK, they have not been as popular. Have you been in homes, usually built in the 60s and 70s, where there are grates in the wall out of which comes hot air? That’s a warm air system.
A gas boiler will heat air and pipe it through to these grates all around the home. Homeowners who previously had a warm air system installed generally will have replaced it by now with a wet system.
Wet systems use pipes to send hot water to the radiators in your home. Wet systems use a boiler which burns gas and converts it into heat which it then pumps into your pipes. Often, the pipes are connected to a hot water tank (sometimes called a hot water cylinder) and it’s the water from the hot water tank which goes to your taps for bathing and washing.
Central Heating Gas Boilers - The Different Types
There are three main types of boiler installed in UK homes. In this article, we'll concentrate on the two leading types- combi boilers and conventional boilers.
Combi boilers (short for "combination boilers") do two things - they're central heating boilers which also heat up your water on demand. Combi boilers are currently the most popular type of boilers installed in people's homes in the UK.
Because they heat up water, you don't need a hot water tank hidden away in a cupboard at the top of the stairs or a cold water storage tank in your roof. They are generally very competitively priced and energy-efficient.
Importantly, they deliver hot water at your standard mains pressure meaning that you can "power shower" without the need for a separate pump. They're small, don't take up any living space, require less pipework and, speaking of pipes, the pipes in your loft won't freeze in winter.
Conventional boilers (sometimes referred to as traditional, normal, or heat only boilers) work best for homeowners whose property already has a traditional central heating system installed in it. They're better if you live in areas where there is quite low water pressure or you have two, three, or more bathrooms.
You may think about switching from a conventional boiler to a combi boiler. This option is often quite expensive and we would strongly recommend that you take professional advice before committing to such a decision.
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