How to choose the right boiler

With winter well on the way, timely new research looks at the pros and cons of different types of boilers, as well as how they work and what it costs to install them.

Related topics:  Property,  Boilers,  Heating
Property | Reporter
20th November 2023
Wood burner 822
"When it comes to heating your home, there are a vast and varied number of options available. Each comes with its own pros and cons, as well as differing costs to install and run, so it really does come down to personal preference"
- Tyrone Ekrem - Fair Fix

Buying a new boiler requires some serious decision-making. With such a vast choice of ways to heat the home on the market, from combis and oil boilers to biomass and wood burners, it’s hard to know which is the right choice to make.

Boiler engineer experts, Fair Fix has created a new guide looking at how much each option costs to install and operate, and what benefits and drawbacks each option brings.

Pros, cons and costs

Combi boiler

The most common choice homeowners make when looking to heat their home is the combi boiler. Highly efficient, small, and providing hot water on demand, the combi boiler has lots going for it. pressure.

The average cost to install a combi boiler comes in at £2,400 which makes it one of the most affordable options, with just an electric/system boiler or LPG boiler making for more affordable options.

But they’re not well-suited to large homes, homes with old pipework, or homes with weak water. As a result, when it comes to running costs the combi boiler comes in at an average of £1,080 per year, making it the second most expensive behind just the conventional oil boiler.

Wood burner

The most affordable way to heat our homes in the long term is a wood burner. While they are one of the most expensive to install at an average of £2,950, the estimated yearly running costs sit at just £435, far cheaper than any other option analysed by Fair Fix.

Surprisingly, they are also more environmentally friendly and efficient when used properly, providing instant warmth. But they also require wood to be bought and delivered to the home, demand constant maintenance, and can be a potential fire hazard, which means for most households, they simply aren’t a realistic option.

Electric/System boiler

System boilers don’t need a water tank so they have a small physical footprint. They provide good water pressure and work well with solar panels. An electric/system boiler is also the most affordable option when it comes to installation, coming in at an average of £1,300. With an estimated average running cost of £792, it’s also one of the most affordable options in the long term, second only to wood burners.

This greater degree of affordability does come with some compromise though. Their biggest drawback is the fact that water must be preheated and even then it doesn’t last long, making them problematic for family households, with higher consumption levels.

LPG boiler

At an average of £1,500, LPG boilers are cheap to install, while heating the home costs around £800 a year which is also one of the most affordable long-term costs.

They are highly efficient and produce clean energy, but they do require a storage tank which creates a large physical footprint and adds to the cost.

Biomass boiler

Carbon-neutral, renewable energy for heat and hot water, biomass boilers are highly efficient and green, but they’re also physically large, have high installation costs, and require much more ongoing maintenance and care than any other type of heating system.

In fact, a biomass boiler is by far the most expensive option when it comes to purchase and installation, costing a princely £10,000. The running costs are hard to pin down, but you can expect to heat the home for an average of £875 per year. While this is more affordable than the likes of a combi boiler, it would take you some time to claw back the huge installation costs in lower running costs.

Conventional oil boiler

Finally, there’s the conventional oil boiler. Oil boilers are quiet and small and can provide hot water for multiple taps and showers but they do cost an average of £4,700 to install, making them the second most expensive behind a biomass boiler.

Running costs are also volatile although they are thought to average £1,883 per year, which also makes them by far the most costly in the long term. They have no official regulation; they emit lots of carbon dioxide which makes them bad for the environment; and the oil needs to be physically delivered to the home.

Founder of Fair Fix, Tye Ekrem, commented: “When it comes to heating your home, there are a vast and varied number of options available. Each comes with its own pros and cons, as well as differing costs to install and run, so it really does come down to personal preference.

"The best thing to do is call a professional heating engineer and get them to come round, analyse your home and its existing heating infrastructure, and then tell you what your best options are. Because once you’ve made a decision, there’s no going back, unless you’re willing to spend all that money ripping it out and installing something new.

"You may also want to consider how it may impact the overall value of your home. For example, while you may be happy with the additional effort required to maintain a log burner, potential buyers might not. So it’s a decision that needs a good degree of thought and consideration.”

"It’s worth noting that the average installation cost for all options can vary greatly based on factors such as the type of existing boiler system that is being replaced, the make and model of the new boiler, the length of warranty, and the complexity of the installation process."

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