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Home / Home Improvements / Boilers / Central Heating
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Central Heating

Without central heating, you wouldn’t have steaming baths, hot water to wash the dishes, or warm and cosy rooms. It’s now considered such an essential and basic part of civilised life now that the government gives out grants to the least well-off in our society so that they can have the latest systems for themselves and their families.

How it Works:

The most popular type of central heating system involves a gas boiler heating water that passes through a network of pipes into radiators located in the rooms in your home. This type of gas central heating is known as a "wet system". It is also possible to have an electric central heating system or a warm air system.

There are various types of gas boiler but there are also other fuels used in boilers such as oil and LPG although the most used fuel is natural gas.

Central Heating Cost

Typical quotes for central heating installation cost will include the following:

Four-bedroom house

According to the installers who responded to our request for information, a homeowner with a four-bedroom home over two stories would expect to pay the following for a standard installation:

On your Quote Price Range
Installation (including labour and materials) of boiler £1,100-£1,250
Installation (including labour and materials) of ten radiators £1,100-£1,300
Installation (including labour and materials) of a water tank £150-£250
Installation (including labour and materials) of other parts required £200-£300
Installation (including labour and materials) of pipework £800-£900
TOTAL £3,350-£4,000

Bungalow with two bedrooms

For an owner of a 2-bedroom bungalow wanting to install a gas combination boiler, a typical quote would look like this:

On your Quote Range of prices
Installation (including labour and materials) of boiler £1,000-£1,150
Installation (including labour and materials) of seven radiators £780-£890
Installation (including labour and materials) of other parts required £200-£300
Installation (including labour and materials) of pipework £250-£350
TOTAL £2,230-£2,690

Three-bedroom house

For a three-bedroomed house over two stories, a typical quote would look like:

On your Quote Price Range
Installation (including labour and materials) of boiler £1,000-£1,500
Installation (including labour and materials) of nine radiators £1,000-£1,120
Installation (including labour and materials) of a water tank £150-£250
Installation (including labour and materials) of other parts required £200-£300
Installation (including labour and materials) of pipework £750-£1,000
TOTAL £3,100-£4,170

What would cause these quotes to change?

In these examples, we’ve shown you quotes for standard installation packages for those types of properties based upon our installation partners’ quotes. The price actually paid may fluctuate depending on:

  • The choice of boiler (central heating boiler prices range from £600 to around £2,500
  • The number of central heating radiators installed (costs vary according to the styles and sizes of radiators chosen),
  • Whether the installation was standard (the price may go higher if the installation itself is more difficult than usual because of house layout, material the house is built from, and so on)
  • The heating control system used and its level of sophistication

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:

  • It's Bold

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

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 Boiler:

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 Boiler:

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.

Get Free Central Heating Quotes

Gas central heating versus electric central heating

If you can receive gas to your home, most installers would recommend that you choose a gas central heating system over an electric heating system and for good reason.

Electric central heating relies on easy-to-install night storage heaters. The problem with them is the cost of the electricity required to power them is prohibitive – it can cost three or four times more using electricity than gas.

Gas central heating is much cheaper and they are far more energy-efficient. They’re far easier to use and more flexible than electrical central heating units which, because of their technical limitations, can’t prove you with instant control.

What do I need to know about the components that make up my central heating system?

Your central heating system is more than just your boiler. There are many different parts which make it up which affect both the performance and the price you’ll pay for your installation.             

• Radiators

Radiators come in all shapes and styles and it’s important to make sure that you get the right ones installed for each room in your home. Installers determine the type of radiator needed using a number of different factors including the type of floor, the position of the room in the house, how often the room is used, how big the windows are, and more.

You might want to ask about Thermostatic Radiator Valves – they allow you to set the temperature of a particular radiator manually on a setting of between zero and six. Always make sure that the company you choose to do the work fits a bypass radiator with no TRV in the bathroom though.

• Central heating programmer

The programmer is that part of your central heating system that allows you to choose the times and days that your heating and hot water come on. Modern programmers allow you to switch one thing on but not another – for example, you can use your programmer to switch hot water on for a particular time but to leave the radiators off.

• Central heating thermostats

Your central heating thermostat is there to control the temperature of your whole house. Where it’s positioned is important though because some rooms in a house are warmer than the others. Most installers recommend that you fit your thermostat near to your front door.

• Central heating pipework

You can choose either copper pipework or plastic pipework for your central heating system (although all pipework within a metre of the boiler has to be made out of copper).

Plastic pipework costs more than copper pipework but it’s easy to install. When you factor in labour costs, plastic pipework will be better if you’re working to a tight budget. However, there is something very aesthetically pleasing about the colour, feel, and shaping of copper piping – it looks more homely and traditional.

Central heating grants – are any available?

Yes, but they are limited. Government grants will either pay for the entire installation or for part of it.

To qualify, your boiler to be five years or more old and you have to be receiving a certain combination of government benefits to qualify.

Can you install central heating yourself?

You can go to an online store like Mr Central Heating and you can buy your central heating thermostat, your central heating programmer, your central heating inhibitor, and your central heating pump online - you can buy an entire system if you like.

However, it is UK law that only a Gas Safe Registered person or company can fit the gas boiler to your wall or run the gas supply pipe. Bearing in mind the dangers involved with gas-powered appliance, it is sensible to ask someone who is fully qualified to install the whole system from scratch.

Your central heating installation – who should do it?

As we just mentioned, gas boilers and gas supply lines may only be legally installed by a person or a company on the Gas Safe Register. Making sure any potential installer is signed up to the scheme is an absolute prerequisite for replacing your central heating.

Get Quotes From Qualified Central Heating installers

Many companies manufacture gas boilers and central heating systems so it is important to get a competitive deal. When it comes to choosing someone to install your new system he or she must be on the Gas Safe Register.

We can put you in touch with three or four local Gas Safe Registered central heating installation companies which will provide you with a free-of-charge quote on your new central heating system. We’ve checked each company’s history to ensure that they are financially stable and that their existing customers are satisfied with them and the work they’ve done.

You won’t be visited by a salesperson – these are the actual installers themselves who’ll listen to what you want from your gas central heating system and give you the very best price.

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    Got 2 suppliers, both phoned me within 24 hours, both made appointments to come and see me the following day.

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