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Last updated: 23 June 2022

How Much Does it Cost to Install Central Heating in the UK?

Converting your central heating system can involve replacing your boiler, radiators, heating controls and pipework. Together these amount to costs ranging from £3,500 - £5,500

These home improvements could bring long-term cost savings of up to 30%. Each of these elements deserves careful consideration before installing to ensure your new system does its job optimally while also limiting potentially mounting costs. This guide will take you through various central heating installations and the respective price ranges so you have an understanding of what to expect and where you can save!

Central Heating Cost Savings

What Determines the Costs of a Central Heating System?

The wide range of potential installation costs goes to show how unique every central heating installation project can be. The size of your home and the number of rooms it holds will help decide the scale of the job, from how many radiators you need, to your new boiler power output, to the pipework distribution. 

These costs are usually made up of supply, installation and labour costs. There are also some differences in terms of time and complexity when it comes to installing an entirely new system versus replacing individual components. 

The cost of installation will also vary according to the installer you hire. Local installers will usually offer the cheapest rates. GreenMatch can connect you with up to 4 local heating engineers who will offer you bespoke advice and tailor-made quotes based on the scope of potential installations your central heating system might need.

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Average Cost of Installing Central Heating

The time it takes to fully install a new system also depends on the size of your home. The longer the installation takes, the more costly it becomes. The table below shows the price ranges for the various new components you might be considering for your own central heating renovations. These include supply and installation. 

Installations 3 bedroom home Price range  Time frame

Straight forward boiler swap 

£1,250 - £3,000

4-6 hours

Boiler replacement with new boiler type

£2,500 - £3,500

2-4 days 

Hot water cylinder 

£390 - £1,300

3-4 hours

Water tank

£200 - £600

2-3 hours 

9 Radiators

£1,100 - £3,500

1-2 days

Heating controls 

£100 - £410

1-2 hours 

Finding the Right Boiler 

The boiler sits at the heart of the home's central heating system. The right boiler type will depend on the size of your home and your energy needs, which can be estimated by the number of radiators you have. Boiler size, otherwise known as output rating, is measured in kilowatts (kW) and tells you the power capacity of your boiler. 

In the UK, natural gas is the most popular fuel when it comes to home heating. Since natural gas is supplied from the mains network, your home must be connected to the local gas grid to use it as fuel. In England alone, there are 1.1 million homes off the gas grid, in which case most manufacturers will offer LPG conversions. Oil fuelled boilers are the most common alternative to gas, but electric or biomass boilers are also widely available. Below we’ve broken down the main boiler types and the respective price ranges based on the latest market prices, before installation:

Boiler type  Price range 

Combi (gas fired)

£530-£2,750

Combi (oil fired)

£2,500-£3,130

System (gas fired)

£690-£1,700

System (oil fired)

£1,700-£2,800

Regular (gas fired)

£850-£2,530

Regular (oil fired)

£1,450-£2,590

Biomass

£4,000-£15,000

Electric

£550-£1,220

Type of Boiler Replacement 

There’s a huge variance in terms of the potential time and costs of installing a new boiler. This is because a like-for-like boiler swap, in the same position in the home, will be far easier a job than changing the position of the boiler or changing the type of boiler. 

A simple swap means the surrounding pipework can connect to the new boiler in place of the old one. This will only take around 6 hours. Whereas, switching to a new type of boiler could take a few days since different boiler types require their own components which will need to be installed, or taken away as well as laying or removing additional pipework. 

A new boiler in a different position in the home will also take considerably more time and amount to additional costs. Depending on the type of boiler, a relocation job requires dismantling the old system as well as restructuring the pipework and boiler flue. Therefore, it could bring an additional £800 to the overall boiler installation costs

If we assume a home is installing a new combi boiler, the UK’s most popular boiler type, then the replacement costs will depend on the old boiler type. The table below shows the average costs that fall under a combi boiler swap: 

Type of boiler replacement Average price

Combi-combi swap 

£1,700

System-combi swap (including hot water cylinder removal)

£2,500

Regular-combi swap (including hot water cylinder and cold water tank removal) 

£3,500

 

Combi Boilers

New combi boilers cost from £550-£3,000. Combi boilers can be fuelled by gas, oil, LPG or electricity. Easily the most popular type of boiler available in the UK, combi boilers deliver hot water on demand from the mains water supply to heat your radiators and provide hot water. This is all done from one sleek unit, saving space in your home since there’s no need for a hot water cylinder or cold water tank. This will also save you in installation costs

Their compact design makes them most suited to smaller homes with precious space. Since they don’t keep an internal supply of water, they are not always suited to larger homes with high energy demands and might jeopardise the quality of heat from your system. Combi’s with larger power outputs are available but will come at a premium cost since they will have to work harder to meet your needs. 

For homes with little space for additional units but high water demands, storage combi boilers combine the best features of a combi and system boiler in that they include internal hot water storage that provides hot water to multiple outlets while still taking up little space. Central Heating Boiler

System Boilers

System boilers range from £690-£2,800. Including installation, the average cost for a system for system boiler swap is around £1,900. These powerful boilers are popular among larger homes with a high energy demand since they can provide a constant, reliable supply of hot water from an external, unvented storage cylinder that takes its supply of water from the main lines. 

The additional hot water cylinder means that multiple water outlets can be used at once without compromising the supply of heat to your radiators. Therefore, homes with more than one bathroom, and with the space to install the additional unit should consider a system boiler for their central heating system. 

Regular Boilers 

Regular boilers, also known as conventional or ‘heat only’ boilers, might cost between £850-£2,800, with an average price of £1,800 for a simple boiler swap. Regular boilers require a cold water tank which is kept in the loft. This tank keeps cold water which it feeds to the hot water cylinder for heating. This internal water supply makes regular boilers a good match for homes with high energy demands

If your system is already set up with a hot water cylinder and cold water tank then it might be best to keep it this way by upgrading to a newer model to avoid expensive installation costs. A regular boiler also indicates an older central heating system. In this case, the mains high water pressure provided by a modern combi or system boiler might be too powerful for the pre-existing pipework and radiators.

Electric Boilers

Electric boilers are connected to the local electricity grid and so are a popular alternative to gas boilers for small to medium-sized homes. They typically range from £500-£1,200. Electric combi boilers are especially suited to smaller homes since they are contained to one unit and can be wall-mounted, fitted into a standard kitchen cupboard, or floor standing. 

Electric boilers provide water for central heating and domestic hot water from the mains supply. They are very efficient since they don’t burn fuel to produce heat, rather, heat is transferred from a heating element within the boiler. This means that energy is not wasted from heat loss. Electric-powered central heating can also be much better for the environment if combined with a domestic solar PV system. This will allow your system to run emissions-free since you’ll be powering your electric system from renewable sources, ie the sun. The major downside to electric heating is the running costs. Currently, electricity supply, which is powered by gas, costs more per unit than gas itself. 

However, the price of installation of an electric boiler is relatively low compared to oil and gas-fired systems since they will not require additional parts for combustion such as a flue or condensate pipe. 

Biomass Boilers 

A biomass boiler is certainly the most expensive boiler type, ranging from £7,000-£14,000. However, government schemes such as the Boiler Upgrade Scheme can contribute £5,000 towards the upfront costs of installation, for those who are eligible. 

Central Heating Biomass Boiler

The government is encouraging their increased use since they could represent a widespread carbon-neutral heating solution, especially for homes not connected to the gas grid. This is because the fuel, usually in the form of wood chips, pellets or logs, releases the same amount of CO2 as they absorb over the tree's lifetime. Therefore, locally sourced biomass fuel is close to carbon neutral and is completely renewable, as long as trees are planted in the place of those cut down for fuel. 

Hot Water Cylinder 

Hot Water Cylinder Central Heating

A new hot water cylinder for a system or regular boiler will typically cost between £300 and £1,300, including installation. A hot water cylinder heats water and stores it for domestic heating and hot water use, as soon as you need it. They are connected to either a system or regular boiler, whereas a combi heats water directly from the mains on demand rather than storing it. For larger homes with multiple radiators and bathrooms, having this internal supply of hot water will be sufficient to meet your energy needs. 

Installing a new hot water cylinder will cost considerably more than a like-for-like replacement in the same location since the surrounding pipework will have to be fitted to incorporate it into the larger heating system. 

Installation costs will also depend on the type of cylinder as well as the material it’s made from. Copper cylinders are highly effective heat conductors but still tend to cost less than stainless steel cylinders since they won’t last as long. A hot water cylinder that directly heats the water with internal immersion heaters will typically cost more than an indirect system where the boiler heats the water.  

Vented Hot Water Cylinders

A vented hot water cylinder comes as part of a regular boiler system. They typically cost between £390-£880. It’s connected using pipes to a cold water storage tank kept in the loft. Then gravity allows water to travel through the pipes to the cylinder where it is heated and stored for use. The water pressure within regular boiler systems is usually quite low since it relies on gravity. 

Including installation, vented cylinders cost significantly less than unvented cylinders. However, if you are having a new regular boiler system installed, then a cold water tank will have to be installed alongside the cylinder which will cost between £200-£450 including installation. 

What’s more, installing an unvented system in place of a vented system might be problematic. This is because the new cylinder could be incompatible with the pre-existing pipework as the water pressure will be much more intense than the pipes are used to. However, you can install an additional water pump to improve the pressure from a vented system. This would also save you in costs from replacing the system, which would include the boiler and pipework. 

Unvented Hot Water Cylinders

An unvented cylinder will cost more upfront than a vented cylinder with the overall costs usually ranging between £400-£1,300. 

An unvented hot water cylinder gets its cold water supply straight from the mains through an expansion vessel that sits on top. Therefore, it can be installed alongside a system boiler. This provides hot water at a high mains pressure for multiple radiators and outlets more easily than a vented system, making it a good fit for larger homes. 

Since there’s no need for a cold water cistern, there's also more freedom in terms of where you can install your system in the home, as well as simpler installation overall. However, switching positions within the home will require reworking of the surrounding pipework and so it’s recommended to keep the cylinder in the same position if you are just replacing it. 

Radiators

Radiators Central Heating

Radiators typically last 15-20 years. Upgrading your central heating system with a new boiler doesn’t always require new radiators. However, they will need replacing if they develop a lot of rust or require increased maintenance because of leaking or inefficient heat distribution. Older radiators can also build up sludge that affects the flow of water through them and therefore the quality of heat. However, before replacing them you could have a system flush to remove debris build-up which will cost between £80-£150, depending on the number of radiators. 

Depending on the radiator size, new standard radiators will cost £20-£250, and up to £800 for designer-style radiators. Installation ranges from £150-£750 for standard radiators and around £900 for designer styles. 

There is some scale to the potential costs since replacing existing radiators with the same type will result in less upfront costs than fitting different sized or additional radiators. This is due to the additional specialist labour and pipework needed to connect the new radiators to the heating system. Upgrading an existing radiator will take 2-3 hours for smaller radiators and 4-5 hours for larger radiators. The table below outlines the price ranges for each type of radiator installation:

 
Type of radiator replacement  Price range 

Fitting a new radiator 

£300-£700

Replacing a radiator with the same type 

£150-£450

Replacing a radiator with a new type

£250-£680

 

If you are fitting new radiators, you must acquire the right amount of radiators to heat your home. Too many radiators will produce unnecessary excess heat which wastes energy that you will have to pay for. On the other hand, too few radiators will not provide enough heat to sufficiently warm the space. 

Generally, each room requires one radiator. However, larger rooms will require more heat so might require 2 radiators, or maybe three small radiators. Larger radiators typically have a higher power output due to their larger surface area. Therefore, these will cost more. 

A heating engineer can estimate the required size and power output for a radiator by calculating the British Thermal Units (BTU) of a room. A room's BTU can be affected by its size and the quality of insulation, such as through double/triple glazed windows. 

Heating Controls 

Heating Controls Central Heating

To comfortably manage the levels of heat coming from your system, you can have heating controls installed. They are also a great way to save money on your monthly bills while also limiting your boiler's carbon emissions

While traditional heating controls are at the lower end of the price range, smart controls are a great way of reducing the long-term running costs of your system since you can reach the ideal temperature more easily without running over. This prevents excess heat running up your energy bills. 

Room Thermostat

Individual room thermostats give you the best way of regulating heat per room in your house. This usually works via a dial that you can turn up or down. Digitally programmed thermostats allow you to set the ideal temperature for the heating to reach at optimal times. The heating will then switch off once it reaches this temperature. Traditional thermostats can cost between £100-£170 including installation. 

Smart Thermostats 

Smart thermostats will cost you between £140-£410, including installation. These are wifi-enabled heating controls that learn your lifestyle patterns, such as when you come in from work, to heat up and cool down your home. You can also input instructions that it will automatically follow, and they can be controlled from any smart device even when you’re not at home. 

Central Heating Thermostat

Your smart thermostat can also send you reports based on your energy usage habits so you have a greater awareness of what makes up energy costs and ways to be more energy-efficient. A tado° thermostat, for example, can reduce your energy consumption by up to 31%.

Radiator Valves 

Radiator valves allow you to control the heat output for an individual radiator. There are three types of radiator valves with some variance in terms of costs. 

Radiator valve  Price range

Manual

£3-£45

Smart 

£70-£250

Thermostatic 

£8-£150

 

Manual radiator valves work by turning the valve up or down which adjusts the flow of hot water passing through the radiator, thus allowing you to regulate the amount of heat emitted. They are the cheapest and most common type for most radiators. Since they have to be manually operated, it’s important to remember to turn them down when you don’t need them so you don’t waste heat. 

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) allow you to set the exact temperature of the room via a digital control on the valve. It will automatically stop the supply of water once it reaches the desired temperature, meaning you’ll only use what you need. 

Smart radiator valves can be installed alongside smart home thermostats. These wifi-enabled controls let you regulate each radiator’s thermostat from a smart device, from anywhere. They also allow you to gauge your energy and manage comfort levels more efficiently.  

How to Save Money on Your Central Heating Installation Costs

To prevent the costs of all these central heating features building up, it’s important to remain strategic throughout the process! 

    • During the installation project, it’s best to clear the space of furniture as much as possible for the plumbers and heating engineers to do their work without disruption. This will quicken the process which will help avoid paying extra for additional hours of labour. 
    • As we’ve mentioned throughout this guide, replacing one element of your central heating does have to mean an entire system overhaul. It’s also worth considering like-for-like boiler and radiator swaps where you can so that installation time is reduced which amounts to less overall costs. 
    • Since boilers function mostly during the winter, it’s worth securing your replacement boiler in the summer months since there won’t be as high of a demand. 
    • It’s also best to search for the parts and labour that you need well in advance to avoid paying extra for the short notice. What’s more, the more time you have, the more deals you might come across in your search. 
    • Installers and heating engineers should supply you with written itemised quotes that break down the parts and labour costs of their services. Comparing multiple installation quotes will give you confidence that you’ve landed on the best prices
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Finding the Right Central Heating Installer Near You

Since central heating engineers’ work will have long-term impacts on the safety and comfort of your home, you deserve assurance that they provide legitimate services. Therefore, always feel free to question what you don’t understand. You can also check their approval ratings and customer testimonies. These should be easily accessed on their websites.

For boiler installations, always check if the engineer is Gas Safe or OFTEC approved by consulting the respective register and asking for their ID before they begin their work. 

GreenMatch’s network of engineers are all Gas Safe and vetted by us. Our free, no-obligation service puts you in contact with installers who can offer you bespoke advice based on the characteristics of your home's central heating. You can then compare their rates to make the most of their competitive prices. 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Central Heating Installation Costs

How long does it take to install a new central heating system?

The time it takes to install new central heating will depend on the scale and complexity of the job. An entire central heating replacement could require up to 5 days labour and so will cause some disruption to your usual routine. The most time-consuming task is to replace your boiler with a different type which might take up to 4 days alone. You can avoid this by opting for a new boiler of the same type.

Ciaran Wark
Written by Ciaran Wark, Copywriter

Ciaran is a copywriter at GreenMatch. He graduated in English Literature and has since focussed his pursuits on sustainability writing and research, in particular, for the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel. He has also written about sustainable travel and social justice issues for various online publications.