In the UK, 78% of households currently rely on gas heating to warm their homes during the long, wintery months.
While this has worked for decades, this heating method is a significant contributor to carbon emissions in the UK, something the government is trying to correct by becoming carbon neutral by 2050. However, households still need a reliable heating solution, hence the introduction of gas heaters, which rely solely on electricity and no harmful fossil fuels.
Currently, only 5% of all UK households utilise electric heating as a heating solution in their homes, which could be because millions of homes are too old to have these innovative systems installed.
However, if the government wants to comply with their carbon-neutral goals, the country will need to make headway toward rapid changes regarding switching from gas to electric heating. Moreover, while electric heating solutions offer several benefits, this solution has its drawbacks, and it’s beneficial to understand how the two differ in terms of these pitfalls.
In this article, we will look at both ends of the spectrum to weigh the pros and cons of heat pumps vs gas boilers.
The Installation Process: Gas Boilers
The gas boiler installation process is typically quick and relatively straightforward. With millions of boilers installed over the decades, there is an overabundance of obliging professionals with loads of experience willing to get the job done safely and efficiently. The installation could take up to 24 hours, depending on the platform used.
The Installation Process: Heat Pumps
Currently, there is far less of a demand for the installation of heat pumps. Therefore, there are fewer trained experts readily available to fit them, resulting in a substantial waiting period. The domino effect is that heat pumps are generally more expensive to buy and install than the traditional gas boiler alternative.
This installation process can take anywhere from 2 to 6 days, depending on what kind of heat pump you have chosen.
Therefore, regarding installation speed, gas boilers take less time and, as a result, are a typical UK household’s first choice.
Installation Cost Comparison: Gas Boiler
Regarding upfront costs, the gas boiler will fall anywhere between £1,500 and £3,000, making it a somewhat attainable solution for the average UK household.
Installation Cost Comparison: Heat Pump
Heat pump installation costs can vary due to the type installed. An air source heat pump, which as the name suggests, draws heat from the air, can cost anywhere from £8,000 to £15,000. Alternatively, a ground source heat pump that draws air from the earth can cost between £18,000 and £25,000, which is unaffordable for many households.
Therefore, when studying both sets of upfront costs, the gas boiler is the more favourable choice in terms of living on a budget. While the years pass and the demand for heat pumps grows, the installation cost will likely decrease, hopefully making them the first choice for UK homes.
Efficiency: Gas Boiler
A modern gas-boiler running at optimal capacity is about 90% efficient, meaning that it converts 90% of fuel into heat energy. This result is pretty good, with only 10% of fuel wasted. In monetary terms, for every £1 spent, you will lose 10p ‒ not bad but not ideal either.
Efficiency: Heat Pump
Heat pumps are significantly more efficient regarding energy output. On average, heat source pumps hold an efficiency percentage of about 300%, and ground source pumps stand at 400% and more! In other words, for each 1kwH of power, this system can generate 3 to 4 times as much in heat output.
Therefore, heat pumps take the cake by far. When installed proficiently, the general efficiency rating is significantly better than a gas boiler will ever hope to be.
Carbon Emissions: Gas Boiler
A modern boiler can release around 215g of CO2 per kWh of heat. Unlike their older models, these modern designs are far more environmentally friendly than their con-condensing counterparts.
You can trade your older boiler in for a more innovative model and cut back as much as 1,220kg of CO2 annually! You can ask your installer about pairing your more current boiler with a smart thermostat and thermostatic radiator valve to help you cut down even further.
Carbon Emissions: Heat Pump
A heat pump relies solely on electricity to generate heat while burning zero fossil fuels, making this solution a zero-carbon heating system. However, some electricity relies on dirty sources such as fossil fuels, which is something to bear in mind. Only 40% of electricity generated in the UK is sourced from renewable energy resources. With that being said, this option is still much cleaner than the traditional gas-reliant option.
Therefore, heat pumps win again regarding lower carbon emissions. When looking at the emissions from the system on its own, the carbon emissions are zero. However, to work the appliance, you may require grid electricity which could be generated from fossil fuels.
While considering the carbon-neutral goals for 2050, it’s essential to consider the highs and lows of both options. Heat pumps are undeniably safer for the planet but have much higher upfront costs and are not necessarily suitable for older homes. On the other hand, the gas boiler has been relied upon for decades, and newer models have proved safer in all ways, but their efficiency and carbon emission are staggering.
So, do you need help deciding which heating solution is best for you? At B.Wilson Plumbing & Heating, we can guide you toward the best possible system for your home today, so why not reach out? For more information, get in touch right away.