If your boiler is older than 10 years, you should consider getting it replaced. Here’s what you need to know before you buy.
A new boiler is an expense, but it could save you money in the long run. Energy bills are getting more expensive each year, and boilers account for about 60% of them - a new efficient boiler could cut your heating bills by up to 40%.
Ask your fitter for advice – some homes may not be suitable for combi boilers, for example. All new boilers fitted now have to be energy-efficient condensing boilers. Other factors to consider include the fuel type, the size of your home and how it will be used. When you’ve decided on the type of boiler you will buy, it pays to shop around for a good deal. Ensure you go for high efficiency boiler, which will convert a minimum of 90% of its fuel into heat. You can check the boiler’s efficiency at www.boilers.org and find out more about boiler ratings at www.sedbuk.com. Go to the Energy Saving Trust Recommended product search/ to find a suitable boiler for your home.
Combi Condensing Boilers
These provide both instant hot water and heating without the need for a separate tank for water storage.
Pros Ideal for small homes or if you don’t use much hot water daily, they are small enough to fit into a kitchen wall cabinet, for example. There’s no heat loss from the water tank as water is heated on demand.
Cons You can only run one hot tap at a time and the hot water flow rate is lower than other types of boilers. May not be suitable if the house has low mains pressure or multiple bathrooms/showers.
(Sealed) System Boilers
These systems provide heating and hot water through a storage cylinder, usually stored in an airing cupboard.
Pros Ideal for large houses with more than one bathroom.
Cons Hot water won’t be instant and once the cylinder has run out of hot water, you have to wait for it to heat up again.
Open Vent/Heating Only
This system provides heating and hot waters through a boiler, storage cylinder and water tank (usually housed in the loft).
Pros You can run more than one hot tap at a time and the flow rate is good.
Cons These systems are outdated and generally being replaced; they also take up more space than other systems and once the hot water has run out you have to wait for it to reheat.
Gas boilers cost around £2,500; oil ones are more expensive at around £3,000 and biomass boilers are dearer still at £10,000+. If you are unable to afford a new boiler, you may be eligible for a grant via the Energy Saving Trust. Installation costs vary, so get three quotes from a Gas Safe registered installer.
Find an installer on the Competent Person Scheme. Your local council may also be able to help you find an installer – go to www.centralheating.co.uk for help. Competent Person Scheme installers can self-certify their work as compliant with building regulations. They can also notify the local authority on your behalf and issue you with a certificate on completion which can be used as proof of compliance. It will also show up on a solicitor's local authority search when you sell your home.
For Scotland and Northern Ireland, go to The Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation.
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