Boilers in the UK

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Boiler Installation in the UK

The process of installing a boiler is usually more expensive than the boiler itself. When installing a boiler, is necessary to contact a boiler engineer (and maybe a plumber). Independent installers are, on average, cheaper than those working for energy companies. It’s mandatory that the installer is Gas Safe registered for gas and LPG boilers, and recommended he is OFTEC registered for oil boilers. It’s also highly advisable an installer has a local office, has some experience as a boiler engineer and has customer references.

The installation of a boiler often means an important expense. Nonetheless, it’s relatively cheap compared to the cost of installing a ground source heat pump. The installation cost of a boiler can vary significantly due to the large amount of variables it depends on: technology of the chosen boiler (combi, system, gas, oil, biomass, electric boiler, etc.), technology of the previous boiler (in this case, it’d be a replacement), boiler engineer employed, location of the house, thermal characteristics of the house, pipework changes, etc.

The labour involved in the  installation of a boiler can cost between £500 and  £1.500. But there will probably be some other expenses, such as the addition of new radiators: £70 - £150 per radiator, the powerflushing of existing radiators: £30 per radiator, the addition of a new wireless programmer and thermostat: £180, the addition of Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs): £20 per radiator, the upgrading of gas supply pipes (in the case of a gas boiler replacement): £120 - £200.

Boiler Prices in the UK

The price of a boiler for domestic purposes typically ranges from £500 to £2.500. It depends on the type of boiler, the brand, the size and the specific model. The following table shows typical prices for some of the most common types of boilers according to a survey of 230 boilers in the UK:

Gas combi boilers Gas heeat-only boilers Oil combi boilers Price band
7 20 0 £400- £700
10 14 0 £700 - £900
10 1 0 £900 - £1.200
2 3 30 > £1.200

Source: which.co.uk

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Types of Boilers

Boilers can be classified according to different criteria. The most common ones are the technology used for supplying water and the fuel.

Based on the supply of water, boilers can be divided into:

  • Regular boilers. Also known as conventional, traditional or heat-only boilers. They use a hot water cylinder, and require two storage tanks located in the loft: one of them feeds the hot water cylinder and the other the central heating system.

  • System boilers. They need a cylinder for storing hot water, but no tank is required. They can provide a constant of hot water to any number of taps simultaneously.

  • Combination boilers. Most often called combi boilers, they heat and provide water directly from the mains, which means this type of system doesn’t store hot water. Combi boiler systems need much less space than conventional or system boilers.

The types of fuel currently employed for heating water in boilers are:

  • Natural gas. The most utilized fuel for heating purposes in the UK, backed by a very extensive net of pipes across the country. Its low carbon levels make it a more eco-friendly option than oil.

  • Oil. The process of burning oil does not only releases high amounts of carbon dioxide, but also uses complex mechanisms that result in a high price of the boiler (as shown in the table above). Moreover, oil prices has been historically higher than gas prices, so running costs are, on average, also higher.

  • Electricity. Electric boilers guarantee a safe, clean and simple production of hot water. The fact that there’s no combustion involved implies less maintenance.

  • Biomass. Biomass boilers use a renewable, carbon neutral fuel burned instead of gas or oil for providing hot water and space heating. Prices of wood vary considerably over time, but they’re still lower than most types of fuels.

Boiler Manufacturers

The UK boiler market offers many options when it comes to suppliers. Of course, plenty of British boiler suppliers can be found, ranging from small companies to really big ones (that sometimes own smaller ones). The presence of large international boiler manufacturers is a trait of UK boiler market, with italian and german firms having a significant share of the market.

Boiler Grants in the UK

The UK Government established a scheme aimed at lowering energy costs and carbon footprint for low-income households, by granting them access to efficiency improvements. That scheme, called ECO, offers free boiler replacement to homeowners who meet certain requirements. Broadly, it’s necessary to be recipient of a specific combination of income-related benefits (which includes tax credits, income supports, ESA or JSA) and to have a boiler at least over 5 years old (not condensing) to be able to qualify for the grant.

Maintenance and Repairs

As regards to maintenance, homeowners should consider heating insurance or cover. There are basically three types of boiler covers:

  • Boiler-only cover. This type of policy covers the boiler itself and its controls against breakdown.

  • Boiler cover with central heating cover. It covers both the boiler and the central heating system.

  • Home emergency. It covers a broader spectrum than the two previous ones.