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In a typical UK household, more than half the money spent on fuel bills goes towards providing heating and hot water.


As fuel costs rise, having an efficient and cost effective heating system is vital, and it’s one of the main steps you can take to reducing your carbon dioxide emissions.

It’s important to understand your current heating system. Nearly all homes in the UK have either a central heating system, a boiler and radiators - or electric storage heaters.


Central heating

This is the most common form of heating in the UK. A single boiler heats up water that is pumped through pipes to radiators throughout the house as well as providing hot water to the kitchen and bathroom taps.

Most boilers run on mains gas, but in areas where mains gas is not available, the boiler can run on oil, LPG (tank gas), coal or wood. Mains gas is usually the cheapest, and it has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions, apart from wood. Some boilers also have an electric immersion heater as a back-up.

If you have a central heating system, you may consider these energy-saving improvements:

What type of boiler do I have?

Since 2005, virtually all gas boilers that have been fitted in the UK are more efficient, condensing boilers. Condensing boilers have bigger heat exchangers that recover more heat from the burning gas, making them more efficient.


Your boiler will be a condensing boiler if the following points are true:

  • The flue is made of plastic. If it is made of metal, it’s unlikely to be a condensing boiler.

  • The boiler has a plastic pipe coming out of the bottom, through the wall and into a drain.

  • If it's a gas boiler that was installed after 2005.

  • If it's a oil boiler that was installed after 2005.

Combi vs regular boiler

A regular boiler is more efficient than a combi at producing hot water, but some heat is inevitably lost from the hot water cylinder. Therefore, a combi boiler may be more efficient overall.

Electric heating

Most UK homes that don’t have a boiler and radiators have electric storage heaters. These heat up overnight using cheaper off-peak electricity, and give out the heat during the day. If you have storage heaters, you will probably have a hot water cylinder heated by one or two immersion heaters.

Electric storage heating is more common in flats, rented property, and in homes with no mains gas connection. It is one of the most expensive heating options in the UK, and it emits more carbon dioxide than most systems although in the future there are plans to de-carbonise the national grid reducing future electricity carbon dioxide emissions. It is also harder to control electric storage heaters than radiators, especially with older systems.