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Last updated: 10 June 2022

Electric vs Gas boiler: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Costs

The Key Differences Between an Electric Boiler vs a Gas Boiler

A boiler is the most important part of a central heating system, as it keeps your radiators running and heats the water for your taps, showers, and bathtubs. Most boilers in the UK run on natural gas obtained automatically from the national gas grid. However, electric boilers are also an option available on the market that you may want to consider.

Electric boilers are considered a low carbon heating option as they do not burn fossil fuels. Instead, they work on electricity from the national network or on electricity produced at home by alternative generation systems, such as solar panels.

This is basically the main difference between electric and gas boilers. Nevertheless, you will learn everything about both types of boilers in this article. From which one is cheaper to run to detailed information on their respective environmental impact, keep reading to find out.

Boiler Electric Vs Gas

What is a Gas Boiler?

A gas boiler uses natural gas as a fuel to generate heat for your house’s central heating system and domestic hot water. Energy suppliers deliver natural gas on-demand to properties connected to the national gas grid so gas boilers and other gas-fired appliances can have fuel when they need it. 

Homes disconnected from the grid can still have a gas boiler; however, they need to be compatible with Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). LPG-compatible boilers get their fuel from an on-site storage tank.

According to the Energy Saving Trust —an independent British organisation working towards a decarbonised energy system— 85% of UK homes are currently on the gas network. In addition to that, at the moment, gas is cheaper than electricity in the UK. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that gas boilers are the most common heating system nationwide.

What is an Electric Boiler?

In contrast with gas boilers, an electric boiler runs on electricity and does not burn fossil fuels to generate heat. Electric boilers are less common in the UK than gas boilers. Nevertheless, they are efficient boilers for smaller homes and flats with low heating and hot water demand. They are also a viable alternative for properties disconnected from the gas network.

Electric boilers are considered a more environmentally-friendly alternative to gas-fired and oil-fired boilers. This is mainly due to their higher efficiency and because they don’t release CO2 into the atmosphere, thus reducing your house’s carbon emissions.

However, you must consider that electric boilers only achieve a zero-emissions performance as long as the energy that powers them comes from renewable sources. Below, you will find more information about the share of fossil fuels and renewable energy sources in the UK’s electricity generation.

Environmental Impact of Electric Boilers vs Gas Boilers

According to the latest statistical release on Energy Trends from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), renewable electricity generation in the UK decreased in 2021, down by 9.5 per cent to 121.9 TWh. In contrast, electricity generation from fossil fuels increased the same year by 12 per cent to 132.2 TWh.

Specifically from gas, there was an 11 per cent increase compared to 2020, totalling 124.2 TWh in 2021. “While this was a large increase in percentage terms, it was from a very low baseline in 2020,” BEIS commented.

Nevertheless, these figures should not go unnoticed when choosing the best heating system for your home and the environment. This is especially relevant when we realise that domestic electricity consumption in the UK accounted for more than one-third of the total electricity consumption in 2021.

Electricity Consumption in the UK by Sector

Electricity Consumption UK by Sector

Source: Statistical release on Energy Trends, BEIS (March 2022)

Similarly, data from the Energy Saving Trust compare electricity and gas among other fuels across the UK and point out that the emission intensity of the former is higher.

Emission Intensity by Fuel (kilograms of CO2 equivalent per kWh)
 

England, Scotland and Wales

Northern Ireland

Gas

0.215

0.215

Electricity

0.231

0.236

Source: Fuel prices and carbon factors, Energy Saving Trust (April 2022)

So what to do in such a dilemma? Our recommendation is to switch to low-carbon systems such as solar panels or heat pumps; however, despite becoming more affordable over time, these are still rather expensive alternatives. If you are not ready yet to switch because of either technical or financing reasons, consider installing a highly-efficient electric or gas boiler.

Our experts at GreenMatch will save you time by providing you with up to 4 tailormade offers for energy-efficient solutions suited to your home's energy requirements from suppliers that operate near you.

We advise you then compare these offers objectively to lock in the best deal. For instance, in a gas-heated home in England, Scotland or Wales, you could save up to £580 per year on your energy bills by installing a highly-efficient condensing boiler. Get started by selecting your region below.

Solar quotes in England

England

 

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Scotland

 

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Northern Ireland

 

Advantages of Electric Boilers vs Gas Boilers

Both electric boilers and gas boilers have many advantages related to running costs, power (output rating), efficiency, maintenance, environmental impact, etc.

Since electric boilers do not burn fossil fuels, they can reduce your home’s carbon footprint. As aforementioned, they can achieve a genuinely zero-emissions performance if the electricity that powers them comes from renewable sources. In this regard, it may be helpful to know that most electric boilers are compatible with solar panel systems.

Electric boilers’ efficiency is usually 99%, considerably higher than the 89%-95% range for most highly-efficient condensing boilers. This means that the energy that an electric boiler wastes will always remain at the minimum possible.

Another advantage is that they are a great alternative for homes disconnected from the gas network, as long as the property is not too big and doesn’t have a high demand for central heating and hot water.

If you get an electric boiler for your house, you will have zero risk of a carbon monoxide leak. The chances of technical malfunctions is also lower as an electric boiler has fewer moving parts. Precisely this feature makes electric boilers easier to maintain. They don’t require an annual service either.

Electric boilers also operate very quietly, almost in silence. Additionally, they are flexible and likely cheaper to install as they are smaller, compact and don’t need a flue pipe.

Gas boilers, on the other hand, are the cheapest way to heat a house since they are more affordable to run than electric boilers. There are also more gas boilers on the market, which means more options and, potentially, more chances to lock in a nice deal.

Furthermore, gas boilers come in a wide range of maximum output ratings or boiler power: from 9kW to as high as 150kW. This means that there are gas boiler models to meet almost any kind of central heating and hot water demands, including that of large houses.

Below, you will find a summary of the advantages of electric boilers vs gas boilers:

Advantages Electric Boilers vs Gas Boilers

Disadvantages of Electric Boilers vs Gas Boilers

On the cons side, electric boilers running costs can be very high since electricity is much more expensive than natural gas. Additionally, while excellent for small homes or 1-bedroom flats, they can rarely meet higher demands for heating and hot water in larger properties. Nevertheless, there are some electric boiler models suitable for 5-bedroom houses.

You must also consider that a typical electric boiler uses around 48 amperes (A), so if you run a couple more electric appliances at the same time, you could blow a 60A fuse. Note that while most modern residential electrical systems have a 200A total capacity, older fuse boxes are rated at 60A.

Lastly, while not a disadvantage of electric boilers themselves, their eco-friendly potential is conditional on the type of energy source used to produce the electricity that powers them. As Government official sources point out, fossil fuels still hold the largest share in the UK’s electricity generation. Renewables ended the last quarter of 2021 on the rise, though.

Gas boilers also have disadvantages that you must be aware of. First, they burn natural gas (a fossil fuel) to heat your home. Even if modern domestic gas boilers are much more efficient than older models, they are still one of the most significant contributors to CO2 emissions.

Second, if your gas boiler is defective, there may be a risk of a carbon monoxide leak. Carbon monoxide is an odourless and colourless gas which can quickly cause brain damage and, in some cases, death.

Furthermore, gas boilers generally have more moving parts that can wear out. In this regard, servicing your gas boiler at least once every 12 months is strongly recommended. It can cost anything from £50 to £160.

If you are a landlord or landlady, having your boiler serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer is a legal requirement. It might also be required by the boiler manufacturer to keep the warranty valid.

You must also consider that gas boilers in the UK will be phased out, even if it is still unclear when this will happen.

Boiler Disadvantages 1

Running Costs of Boilers

While electric boilers are more efficient and waste less fuel than gas boilers, they are rather expensive to run. This is because of the high prices of electricity across the UK. Heating your house with an electric boiler will likely cause your energy bills to go up.

However, an Economy 7 tariff may help reduce costs as you get cheaper electricity rates during the night. Powering your electric boiler through a solar panel system will also reduce your energy bills. In the evening or night, a solar battery could take your energy savings even further.

Gas heating is, on the other hand, much cheaper than electric heating, which makes gas boilers the most common choice for UK homeowners.

Below, you will find tables comparing electricity and gas costs in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This data, coming from the Energy Saving Trust, will give you an overview of how expensive running electric and gas boilers can be.

Electric Boiler Running Costs

Average Price of Electricity per Region (pence/kWh)
 

England, Scotland and Wales

Northern Ireland

Off-peak Economy 7

16.7

11.9

On-peak Economy 7

34.1

21.1

Standard rate

28.3

22.6

Source: Fuel prices and carbon factors, Energy Saving Trust (April 2022)

Gas Boiler Running Costs

Average Price of Gas and LPG per Region (pence/kWh)
 

England, Scotland and Wales

Northern Ireland

Gas

7.4

(+ £99.35/year standing charge)

7.2

LPG

15.5

(+ £62.84/year standing charge)

17.3

(+ £63.01/year standing charge)

Source: Fuel prices and carbon factors, Energy Saving Trust (April 2022)

Do Gas or Electric Boilers Heat Your Home Better?

Both electric and gas boilers do great at heating your home. However, their effectiveness will depend on your house heating and hot water demand and your specific requirements.

Gas boilers are generally more powerful than electric boilers. Thus, they can better meet greater demands for heating and hot water. This is especially relevant for large with 5 or more bedrooms and multiple bathrooms. Though, every time your gas boiler fires up, it releases CO2 into the atmosphere.

Electric boilers do not cause carbon emissions if the energy powering them comes from renewable sources. They are also more efficient, so you won't waste as much energy as you would with a gas boiler. Though, electric boilers’ output range is generally too low to meet the demands of a house with several radiators and more than 1 bathroom.

Changing from a gas boiler to an electric one is a good idea and a greener alternative as long as it can fit your home’s needs and runs on green or alternative energy sources. For instance, you can power an electric boiler using solar-panel-generated electricity.

Besides electric or gas boilers, you may also consider renewable heating systems such as heat pumps, biomass boilers, and solar thermal panels. They all can convert natural resources into heat for your home. While these tend to be more expensive than electric and gas boilers, many government green energy grants support the cost of switching to a renewable system.

At GreenMatch, we can provide you with up to 4 tailormade offers for these or other green energy solutions. Just select your region, and we will assist you in finding quotes from suppliers that operate near you.

Solar quotes in England

England

 

 

Solar quotes in Scotland

Scotland

 

 

Solar quotes in Wales

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Solar quotes in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

 

 

Cost of Installing Electric and Gas Boilers

Considering just the boiler itself, electric and gas boilers are similarly priced; though, you may find gas boilers in the UK cheaper, as more models and offers are currently available. New boiler prices can vary from £500 to upwards of £2,000.

In addition to the price of the boiler, you must also take installation costs into account. Several factors can affect it, for instance, the location inside the house where the engineer will install the boiler, the boiler size, and the installer rates (usually higher in big cities than in rural areas). As an estimate, boiler installation costs range from £500 to £1,000.

In this regard, electric boilers may be cheaper to install than gas boilers. As they don’t need a flue or condensate pipes to operate and can be installed almost anywhere, electric boilers’ installation process is very fast and easy.

In any case, comparing multiple quotes from different installers is always in your best interest. At GreenMatch, we provide you with helpful information on different types of renewable energy sources and quotes for green energy heating products from multiple providers. Our service is free and has no binding obligations.

Electric vs Gas Boilers Reviews

If you are looking for either an electric or gas boiler, you have plenty of options with different manufacturers. After reviewing several brands and models, we have listed the best 10. The list includes both electric combi boilers and highly-efficient condensing gas boilers.

Electric boilers

Heatrae Sadia Electromax Electric BoilerHeatrae Sadia - Electromax Electric Boiler

  • Suitable for: smaller homes and flats
  • Fuel: Electricity
  • Type: Combi
  • Available Central Heating (CH) outputs: 6kW, 9kW
  • Efficiency: 99.8% efficiency
  • ErP rating: D for heat and C for hot water *
  • Floor-standing or Wall-mounted? Floor-standing
  • Standard warranty: 2 years (10 years on the cylinder)
  • Typical total cost range (including VAT and installation): £2,675 - £3,300

Electric Heating Company Comet Electric Combi BoilerElectric Heating Company - Comet Electric Combi Boiler

  • Suitable for: smaller homes and flats
  • Fuel: Electricity
  • Type: Combi
  • Available Central Heating (CH) outputs: 9kW, 12kW, 14.4kW
  • Efficiency: 100% efficiency
  • ErP rating: D *
  • Floor-standing or Wall-mounted? Floor-standing
  • Standard warranty: 2 years (10 years on the cylinder)
  • Typical total cost range (including VAT and installation): £3,200 - £3,800

ELNUR Mattira Combi Electric BoilerELNUR - Mattira Combi Electric Boiler

  • Suitable for: from smaller homes and flats to homes with around 10 radiators
  • Fuel: Electricity
  • Type: Combi
  • Available Central Heating (CH) outputs: 3kW -15kW
  • Efficiency: 100% efficiency
  • ErP rating: D *
  • Floor-standing or Wall-mounted? Wall-mounted
  • Standard warranty: 2 years (5 years on the cylinder)
  • Typical total cost range (including VAT and installation): £3,170 - £3,670

THERMAFlow - TH M3 Electric Combi Boiler

  • Suitable for: from smaller homes and flats to 4-bedroom houses
  • Fuel: Electricity
  • Type: Combi
  • Available Central Heating (CH) outputs: 6kW - 15kW
  • Efficiency: 99.9% efficiency
  • ErP rating: B, C, or D (depending on the model) *
  • Floor-standing or Wall-mounted? Floor-standing
  • Standard warranty: 1 year (2 years for parts subject to annual service)
  • Typical cost: around £3,300

Electric Combi Boilers Company Elektra EKC 12kW Electric Combi BoilerElectric Combi Boilers Company - Elektra EKC 12kW Electric Combi Boiler

  • Suitable for: smaller properties and flats with 1 bathroom
  • Fuel: Electricity
  • Type: Combi
  • Available Central Heating (CH) outputs: 12kW (modulates from 2kW to 12kW)
  • Efficiency: 99.9%
  • ErP rating: A for heat and hot water *
  • Floor-standing or Wall-mounted? Wall-mounted
  • Standard warranty: 2 years
  • Typical cost: around £1,650 (Inc. VAT)

 

Gas boilers

Worcester Bosch Greenstar 4000 seriesWorcester Bosch - Greenstar 4000 serie

  • Suitable for: from small to medium-sized homes with one bathroom
  • Fuel: Gas / LPG model available
  • Type: Combi & System
  • Available Central Heating (CH) outputs: 24kW (combi models) / 12kW - 24kW (system models)
  • Available Domestic Hot Water (DHW) outputs (only combi models): 25kW, 32kW
  • Efficiency: 94%
  • ErP rating: A for heat and A for hot water (combi models) *
  • Floor-standing or Wall-mounted? Wall-mounted
  • Standard warranty: Up to 10 years
  • Typical total cost range (including VAT and installation): £1,775 - £2,500

Vaillant ecoTEC Plus seriesVaillant - ecoTEC Plus series

  • Suitable for: from properties with up to 10 radiators and 1 bathroom to really large properties with very high demand for heating
  • Fuel: Gas / some models are LPG compatible
  • Type: Combi, System & Regular
  • Available Central Heating (CH) outputs: 20.4kW - 32.2kW (combi models) / 12.2kW - 64kW (system models) / 12.3kW - 35.1kW (regular models)
  • Available Domestic Hot Water (DHW) outputs (only combi models): 25.4kW - 38.7kW
  • Efficiency: 92%, 93%, or 94% (depending on the model)
  • ErP rating: A or A+ (depending on the model) for heat and A for hot water (combi models) *
  • Floor-standing or Wall-mounted? Wall-mounted
  • Standard warranty: 5 years (can be extended to 10 years)
  • Cost range (including VAT and installation): £1,605 - £4,000

Ideal - Vogue Max series

  • Suitable for: from homes with around 10 radiators and 1 bathroom to properties with around 20 radiators and multiple bathrooms
  • Fuel: Gas / LPG compatible
  • Type: Combi & System
  • Available Central Heating (CH) outputs: 18kW, 26kW, 32kW (combi models) / 15kW - 32kW (system models)
  • Available Domestic Hot Water (DHW) outputs (only combi models): 26kW, 32kW, 40kW
  • Efficiency: 92% or 93% (depending on the model)
  • ErP rating: A for heat and A for hot water (combi models) *
  • Floor-standing or Wall-mounted? Wall-mounted
  • Standard warranty: 10 years (can be extended to 12 years)
  • Typical total cost range (including VAT and installation): £1,830 - £2,623

Baxi 800 seriesBaxi - 800 series

  • Suitable for: from smaller homes with 1 bathroom to larger properties with around 20 radiators and 2+ bathrooms
  • Fuel: Gas
  • Type: Combi, System & Regular
  • Available Central Heating (CH) outputs: 21.2kW - 34.4kW (combi models) / 18kW, 24kW (system models) / 16kW - 30kW (regular models)
  • Available Domestic Hot Water (DHW) outputs (only combi models): 25kW - 40kW
  • Efficiency: 93%
  • ErP rating: A for heat and A for hot water (combi models) *
  • Floor-standing or Wall-mounted? Wall-mounted
  • Standard warranty: 10 years
  • ypical cost range (including VAT and installation): £1,587 - £2,607

Viessmann Vitodens 200-W seriesViessmann - Vitodens 200-W series

  • Suitable for: from smaller homes with up to 10 radiators to larger properties with up to 20 radiators and multiple bathrooms
  • Fuel: Gas / LPG compatible
  • Type: Combi & System
  • Available Central Heating (CH) outputs: 25.4, 32kW (combi models) / 11kW - 32kW (system models)
  • Available Domestic Hot Water (DHW) outputs (only combi models): 30,5kW, 34kW
  • Efficiency: 92%, 93%, or 94% (depending on the model)
  • ErP rating: A for heat and A for hot water (combi models) *
  • Floor-standing or Wall-mounted? Wall-mounte
  • Standard warranty: 3 years (can be extended to 5 or even 10 years)
  • Typical total cost range (including VAT and installation): £2,144 - £2,950

* While electric boilers boast 99-100% efficiency ratings, many of them have an ErP D-rating. This is rather low compared to the A-rating awarded to gas boilers. The reason is that most electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels. Therefore, it is considered carbon-intensive and not very efficient. However, renewable energy generation has increased considerably in recent years, so the ErP rating given to electric boilers is likely to improve in the near future.

FAQ

Which boiler is better, gas or electric?

As gas boilers tend to be more powerful than electric boilers, they are generally a better option for large houses. Electric boilers, on the other hand, are safer, easier to maintain, and very effective at meeting the central heating and hot water demand of small homes and flats.

Regarding their environmental impact, electric boilers don’t release carbon into the atmosphere. They can achieve a 100% zero-emissions performance if the energy powering them comes from renewable sources. You could, for example, power your electric boiler using solar-panel generated electricity.

What is more efficient, an electric or a gas boiler?

Electric boilers’ 99-100% efficiency is much higher than the 90-94% efficiency that most highly-efficient condensing gas boilers feature.

Is it cheaper to heat with gas or electricity?

Gas boilers’ running costs are lower than electric boilers’ running costs across the UK. This is because of the high prices of electricity in the country.

Heating your house with an electric boiler will likely cause your energy bills to go up. Generating your own electricity (e.g. with solar panels/solar batteries) and using it to power your electric boiler will drastically reduce running costs.

Should I replace my gas boiler with an electric one?

It depends on your house’s central heating and hot water demand and your specific needs. If you own a large house, then you should not replace your gas boiler with an electric one as these are generally less powerful and can’t meet large demands. Nevertheless, you could consider switching to a low carbon heating system such as heat pumps.

If you want to lower your heating bills, then replacing your gas boiler with an electric one might not be the best choice at the moment. Electricity prices are currently higher than those of gas in the UK. Additionally, most electricity in the UK is generated by burning fossil fuels, which means that switching to an electric boiler does not necessarily mean reducing carbon emissions.

However, switching to an electric boiler is advisable if you can assure that the electricity powering them comes from renewable sources. It is also a good idea if you can use it in combination with a solar panel system.

Is it worth getting an electric boiler?

Electric boilers have many advantages that make it worth getting one for your home. First, they don’t burn fossil fuels, so there is no risk of a carbon monoxide leak. Additionally, they can reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

Most electric boilers are compatible with solar panels. This makes them a good alternative for houses disconnected from the gas network and also for heating your house using 100% renewable energy sources. Furthermore, their efficiency is very high, usually 99% or even 100%, which means that the waste of energy will remain at the lowest possible.

They are also easy to maintain and don’t require an annual service, saving you around £150 per year or much more in case of an emergency repair. On a similar line, electric boilers are likely cheap to install, as they are smaller, compact and can be placed almost anywhere in the house.

Luis Antonio Gómez Pérez
Written by Luis Antonio Gómez Pérez, Copywriter

Luis Antonio is a copywriter at GreenMatch. Throughout his career as a writer, he has focused on sustainability, environment, science, culture, local and national identities, international politics, and the links between these fields. With a background in journalism, he has researched and written several features about international cooperation initiatives on renewable energy, as well as on environmental policies and strategies at local, national and international levels.