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Gas Boiler vs Electric Boiler – which is best?

Gas boiler vs electric boiler – which is the best option for your home?

gas boilers

The main difference between gas boilers and electric boilers is that electric boilers cost over twice as much to run as gas boilers due to the price of electricity. Already sold on gas, check out the best combi boiler guide to see what is the best for you.

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Gas is the number one option to fuel boilers in the UK. However, not everyone lives in a home that’s connected to the gas grid or wants to use gas as the fuel for their heating. That then means the choice usually comes down to oil or electric boilers.

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Why choose electric boilers?

While oil might be tempting, you do need to have the outside storage space for an oil tank, and if you don’t have that then your options might come down to electric or sustainable energy sources.

No gas line connected to our home make elctricity an option

british gas supply

But if you’re in a situation where your home can be connected to a gas line, and you already have an electric supply, you might be wondering which is the best option to fuel your boiler. Then, of course, is whether the electric boiler cost can be justified.

Pros and cons of gas and electric for heating your home

In this guide, we’re going to look at both options and we’ll examine the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

The environmental impact

Natural gas is the most popular choice for home heating, and in that sense, it performs the job very well. However, they result in a significant impact on the environment.

gas combi boiler

Gas is a fossil fuel

Gas is a natural fossil fuel and that means that when it burns, it releases carbon into the atmosphere.

Gas boilers are considered to be a leading cause of climate change and it’s estimated that when looking at UK emissions, 14% are due to home heating. That’s a similar level to the emissions produced by our cars.

Gas boilers being phased out

hydrogen ready boilers

The UK government has taken a stand on this by banning the installation of gas-only heating in new houses from 2025. Don’t worry, hydrogen ready boilers are fine though! But if you already have a gas boiler and you’re thinking it’s time for a replacement new boiler quote, you might now be wondering whether to continue with a gas boiler or whether to swap over to an electric boiler.

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Electric boilers v gas boilers

electric boiler

The electric boiler works by using electricity rather than fossil fuels such as gas or oil. You can get an electric combi boiler as well as an electric system boiler and both can power electric heating systems.

Contrary to popular belief, electric heating solutions are also powerful enough to provide underfloor heating in the same way boilers powered by fossil fuels can.

Electric boilers for domestic heating

Just to clarify, in this article, when we’re talking about an electric boiler, we mean a device that can heat your home rather than an electric water heater which is used to heat water in small quantities for washing up or making a cup of tea.

Electric boilers are efficient

Compared to gas, electric boilers are much more energy efficient. In fact, they offer 100% energy efficiency. That means that all the energy used in producing the heat is delivered in heating your home.

electric boiler

How does an electric boiler work?

Electric boilers operate by water running past an electrically heated element. Once the water is heated then it can flow through the home’s heating system in exactly the same way as a gas central heating system operates.

Types of electric boilers

Just as with gas boilers, there is a range of different electric boiler types to meet different heating requirements.

Electric combi boiler

Electric combi boilers are exactly the same as gas combi boilers. It provides heat on demand from a wall-hung unit and supplies the home with both heating and hot water. There can be challenges though for the electric combi boiler in supplying enough hot water to larger homes.

electric boiler

The Slim Jim electric combi boiler

At just 203mm wide, this could be a perfect solution for homes where space is a real issue. It’s available in five different power outputs, 4kW, 7kW, 10kW, 12kW, and 14.4kW. This boiler can be configured for just heating, just hot water, or for both at the same time.

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Electric boiler with inbuilt hot water cylinder

When you want the benefits of stored hot water, then an electric boiler with an inbuilt hot water cylinder can be a great option. These units are usually floor standing and are well known for being quick and easy to install.

Electromax electric boiler

The Electromax electric boilers are a combination of an electric flow boiler combined with a hot water storage cylinder. Then there’s also a pre-plumbed, factory-fitted circulating heat pump.

electric boiler

Central heating electric boilers

This means that it can provide central heating and hot water at the same time. All that’s needed for it to be fitted is a mains electric connection point and a cold water supply, and that’s going to mean low installation costs.

Separate water tanks with electric boilers

This boiler has a stainless steel cylinder with a 180 litre capacity. It delivers water at mains pressure so which makes it perfect for pressure showers and a fast filling bath.

Electric system boiler with a separate hot water cylinder

This type of electric boiler has a separate hot water cylinder which can make it a great choice for families with higher hot water needs. These are similar to conventional boilers through they take the water supply directly from the mains and so don’t need a cold water tank in the loft.

Electric combi thermal store for maximising Economy 7 tariff

The electric comb thermal store allows you to take advantage of times when electricity is at its cheapest. This is usually at night time and so the water is heated up in a large cylinder and is then stored to supply the central heating during the day.

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Cheaper electricity tariffs make them viable

When you can make the most of the cheaper electricity tariffs, then this type of electric boiler can have running costs that are very similar to using an LPG or oil heating system.

warm air unit

Electric warm air unit:

Rather than using hot water and radiators to warm the home, this form of electric heating is able to generate heat through hot air. This is then circulated through ducting and vents throughout the home.

Comet Boiler & Aquair Warm Air Unit

This combination of an electric boiler and a warm air unit can replace an existing gas warm air unit. So if you’re looking to move away from fossil fuel, but stay with a warm air solution, then this could be a good option.

Hypo-allergenic heating

The Aquair unit contains a filter so that ensures the air being circulated is free of airborne particles such as pollen and bacteria. This could then be a good solution for homeowners with allergies and might tip the balance in the electric vs gas debate.

No maintenance needed

Unlike a gas boiler, there is no requirement for annual maintenance or an annual safety certificate and that can make a big difference to the overall electric boiler cost.

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Advantages of electric boilers

No gas required

Well we had to sit the biggest advantage first! With over 2 million homes in the UK without access to mains gas, many households need an alternative to gas central heating and that comes from electric, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), or oil burners.

electricity pylon
Biomass boilers instead of electric?

Biomass boilers might also be an option but these can be pricey to get installed and then you’ll need to load the biomass into the boiler on a regular basis.

Lower service requirements

Electric boilers tend not to have the same annual servicing requirements. And when they do need attention, the maintenance costs are lower and replacement parts are cheaper compared to a gas boiler. So, this might balance out some of the differences in costs between gas heating and electric heating.

Compact boilers

If space is at a premium in your home, then an electric boiler could be a good option. That’s because they are both smaller and sleeker in design making it much easier to find a suitable installation point.

Compatible with solar panels

solar panels

One way of reducing both your energy bills and your carbon footprint is to link your heating system to renewable heating systems such as solar panels. While you may not have enough sun for use every day, there are systems available that let you fall back on the mains electricity as and when needed.

Renewable incentives grants to help with installation costs

Another draw for solar power is that you could be eligible for a renewable heat incentive that contributes to the cost of installation. It’s also possible to get financial incentives for installing other sources of renewable energy such as ground source heat pumps.

Incredibly quiet electric boilers

Electric boilers are incredibly quiet; in fact, they are virtually silent when they’re operating. If you’re used to the noise of a gas boiler operating you might keep checking that your electric boiler is really working!

Electric boilers are quick and easy to install

Unlike gas boilers, electric boilers are very quick and straightforward to install. There’s no need for a condensate pipe or a flue so that then means a lower boiler installation cost.

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Disadvantages of electric boilers

May struggle with the hot water demands in larger homes

If you have a large family and there’s a queue for the bathrooms in the morning, an electric boiler is probably going to struggle to meet those demands. Then it’s also going to be prohibitively costly to provide a high volume of hot water. For multiple bathrooms, a gas or oil boiler is a better option.

electric boiler

High electric boiler running costs

Right now, electricity costs much more than gas. That means that even with an electric boiler with a lower output, it’s going to mean higher running costs compared to natural gas. If you’re also running things like underfloor heating, then your running costs might be difficult to justify.

Power cuts

If the power goes, then you’re going to be without both hot water and heating.

Gas boilers

Advantages of gas combi boilers

Cheaper fuel costs

Right now gas is much cheaper than electricity. And although gas boilers use electricity, it is very minimal, which means that your bill will be lower for exactly the same amount of heat and hot water. However, gas prices are going up.

Can meet high hot water demands

worcester 4000 gas boiler

With a gas boiler installed, it can easily meet the needs of a larger home and when more than one person needs hot water at the same time. These make a great solution for homes with multiple bathrooms and where underfloor heating is fitted.

Getting the right type of gas boiler helps

Gas combi boilers might struggle with the demands of a large central heating system or a hot tap being turned in on in several locations at the same time. However, a system or regular gas boiler will be able to meet the demand.

Constant availability

Natural gas boilers are connected to the mains gas grid and that means that it’s incredibly unlikely to not be able to maintain a continual flow of gas.

gas safe registered engineers

Replacing gas boilers is simple

Once a gas boiler is in place, it’s quick and easy to replace it for an upgraded model though installation costs are still likely to be higher than for electric combi boilers.

Greater choice of gas boilers

Because gas is the most popular way of heating a home, there’s a high range to choose from and the new combi boiler prices are much cheaper

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Disadvantages of gas boilers

Annual serving required

To maintain your warranty and to ensure that your system is running safely, then a gas boiler service will be needed every year.

These need to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer and for the service to be documented each time. It’s actually a legal requirement for only a Gas Safe registered engineer to maintain or carry out a gas boiler installation.

energy efficiency

More components increase the risk of faults

Electric boilers tend to be pretty straightforward in their design. A gas boiler, however, is much more complex, and that then means that there’s the potential for more things to go wrong.

Risk of chemical leaks

One of the biggest risks with a gas boiler is that of carbon monoxide poisoning. That means that it’s essential to have a carbon monoxide alarm system and why the installation and maintenance of a gas home heating system are only carried out by a qualified engineer.

Lower levels of energy efficiency

Compared to electric combi boilers, gas boilers are much less energy efficient. While some gas heating systems are now achieving efficiency in the high 90% point, none can reach the 100% efficiency of electric combi boilers.

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How much energy do electric combi boilers use compared to other types of fuel?

For many homeowners, the choice of a new boiler comes down to the running costs. It’s no good having a great boiler if you can’t then afford to use it for your heating and hot water.

Comparing gas and electric fuel costs scenarios

Mains gas boiler – 3.5p per kW

LPG boiler – 7p per kW

Oil boiler 6p per kW

Electric boiler – 12.5p per kW

Economy 7 boiler 7.5p per kW

Heat pumps – 12.5p per kW

Heat Pump grants are available

However, with heat pumps and the receipt of a renewable energy incentive, the price could drop down to being cheaper than electricity but a little more expensive vs gas.

How much is electricity compared to gas?

It’s all worth considering that while the unit cost per kW for electric heating is nearly four times the cost of gas heating, the running costs of electric heating aren’t four times that of gas.

That’s because when you use off-peak electricity then the cost of running an electric heating system drops down to around twice as much as gas heating to run. That’s because the 100% efficiency level of an electric boiler means that you can save money on running costs.

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Electric boiler prices vs gas boiler prices

For many homeowners, the deciding factor in what to go for will often come down to the price of gas boilers and electric boilers. As we mentioned earlier, there are far more gas boilers available compared to say electric combi boilers

If we look at electric heating options first:

Electric combi boiler cost

Electric combi boilers without in-built cylinder 12 kW £899 – £1,300

Electric combi boiler with in-built cylinder 12 kW £1,499 – £2,500

Wall-mounted electric combi boiler with cylinder 3-15 kW £1,749 – £2,000 

Floor-standing electric combi boiler with cylinder 10-18 kW £2,349 – £4,500 

So who wins electric or gas?

While it would be great to be able to give you a straightforward answer unfortunately there are just too many variables for it to be so clean cut. It might be that you just can’t get gas and so the real question might be electric systems or oil boilers?

Choosing renewable energy sources

You might also have decided that the environmental argument is enough to make you want to move away from gas and that a more sustainable boiler type is the solution. Then you might be looking at heat pumps or solar panels.

If your main criteria is to save money on running costs then it’s likely that a gas boiler is going to be the right solution for you.

Buying a gas boiler or electric boiler

For more help in deciding what might be the best option for your home, now is the time to get a new boiler quote. Once you have the fixed price, which includes installation costs, you’ll be able to book a convenient date for your new boiler to be installed.

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