There is nothing that will set fear in heart like the realisation that your boiler has broken down and it will need replacing. It is accepted that a boiler is one of the most expensive items in your home to replace and yet it is one of the most important. If you are in a position where you need or want a new combi, condensing or conventional boiler, you need to be fully informed on how keep the cost to a minimum, but still get a quality product.
In the UK most homes are fitted with a condensing boiler as this is by far the most efficient type as it uses around 90% of the heat generated. It works by passing hot gas through the chamber to heat water and then capturing remaining heat to warm the water coming back into the system. By doing this, a condensing boiler is very efficient.
Most condensing boilers will be the combi boiler type. This heats the cold water via a heating unit. A hot water tank is not required. It is easy to install and offers a steady supply of hot water for your home but there can be issues with obtaining enough pressure especially if you have a large number of bathrooms.
A heat-only condensing boiler uses a hot water tank to store heated water allowing you to have good pressure – but it does take up space and is less efficient.
There are also a number of other non-gas boiler types such as biomass boilers and oil boilers.
Boiler efficiency ratings
If your boiler is relatively new, you can be sure that it is already quite efficient compared to any that are more than 10 years old. All boilers are now required to meet certain efficiency standards and they are rated using a letter system with A-rated units considered the best. When choosing your boiler, you need to think carefully about the rating the value ration and try to get a boiler that has the best possible rating. This will save you money across the lifetime of the boiler which can be 15-20 years.
Ratings are based on the SEDBUK rating system which allows you to compare boilers easily. Simply go to a comparison site and put in the details of your boiler and compare your options. It is estimated that the simple act of changing an older gas boiler with an A-rated one can save you up to £300 a year.
Boiler add-on products
As well as your simple gas boiler, you can now get household systems that carefully measure and control the amount of heat energy you are using. These thermostat systems such as the HIVE or NEST are connected to your gas boiler and allow you full control. You can set your thermostat, turn your heating on or off and control the temperature all from your mobile phone. These systems also learn your regular heating needs, working out when you are home and adjust heating as required. Additionally, you are able to see at a glance how much you are spending, allowing you to control your energy bills.
Deciding on the right boiler for you
You will need to ask yourself a series of questions before deciding on the right boiler for your needs. As boilers come in different sizes, ratings and types (as detailed above) it is important that you get it right or your new boiler cost could be much more than you expect.
- How large is your home, how many bathrooms and how many people live in it? Combi boilers may not be suitable for a large family where showers may be used in two or more rooms at the same time. The water pressure may not be suitable. However a small house with one bathroom may not need a heat-only boiler.
- How much room do you have or are you trying to create space? Changing your boiler from a standard one to a combi is a great way of creating extra space especially in your loft if you are considering a conversion.
- Do your future plans include solar energy? Solar thermal water heating will not work with most types of combi-boiler so it is important to think ahead before your purchase.
Finding the right installer
The most important thing when it comes to installing your new gas boiler is that a competent person does the work for you. All boilers must be installed by someone who is Gas Safe registered and these installers can be found via the Gas Safe website. Never allow anyone who is not registered to do this work as it may be unsafe and illegal. It is the homeowners responsibility to ensure the heating engineer is correctly certified.
At least half of the cost of installing a new boiler comes from the cost of the installation, so it is vital that you shop around and get at least three quotes. Check out the engineer and ask for references. Gas boiler installation is not to be taken lightly and can be extremely expensive to put right if something goes wrong.
How much will a new boiler cost?
The price of your new boiler can vary depending on the size required for your home, the efficiency rating and brand you choose. The consumer company Which? has looked into 230 boilers and discovered they can range from £600 up to £2,000 and that a pricier model will not guarantee the best value for money. They found that most boilers fall into the £700 to £900 range.
But this is only a small part of the cost of your new boiler. You need to also think about the installation cost which can easily double this amount or more. Other considerations are whether you need pipework changed, old water tanks removed or if you are wanting to add on insurances or additional repair cover.
Average boiler costs
Below are the average prices you would expect to pay for a new double glazed window.
|New Boiler Type||Property Size||Average Price (installed)|
|Combi boiler (gas)||1-2 Bedrooms||£1000|
|Combi boiler (gas)||3-5 Bedrooms||£1500|
|Combi boiler (gas)||5+ Bedrooms||£2500|
Please note these above costs are approximate and will vary depending on many different factors. These include; the type and position of your existing boiler (if there is one), the make and model of the new boiler, any pipe work that may be required, and any additional work such as flushing the pipes. For an accurate price it will be necessary to have a surveyor visit your property and give you a detailed written quotation.
Can I get help with the new boiler cost?
There are a number of schemes or payment plans that could help you with the cost of your new boiler – if you are eligible. For the most part, a grant is only available to those who are on low incomes (less than £15,860) or benefits.
- Energy Company Obligation (ECO): This scheme obligates the energy companies to put a certain amount of their profit towards helping those who are most at risk of fuel poverty. The most common way for this money to be spent is by offering free insulation, however many energy companies do offer free or subsidised boilers. You don’t necessarily need to be a customer of the energy company involved to qualify, however you will need to fit their criteria for eligibility. This generally means that you must earn less than £15,860, receive Working Tax Credit, receive Pension Credit, Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance. Other criteria regarding young children, disability and age also apply.
- Energy Assistance Scheme (Scotland only): This staged process offers levels of support to those in need – stage 4 includes energy efficiency measures such as a new boiler.
- Nest Fuel Poverty Scheme (Wales): Free and impartial advice is offered under this scheme and advice on the purchase of boilers can be given.
- Warm Home Scheme (Northern Ireland): These grants are aimed at tenants and can include new boilers and central heating improvements.
Other ways to pay the new boiler cost
- Some installers or manufacturers may offer payment plans for their products. This allows you to pay off the boiler in instalments over a period of time ranging from one year to five years. If you choose this option it is essential that you read the small print and take note of the total cost and interest rate. You should also try to get maintenance or insurance added during the lifetime of the contract.
- You could also get a personal loan from your bank or use a credit card. There is a chance that this could be cheaper than either the Green Deal or a hire purchase option, but do check the fine print carefully.
Many boiler installers and energy companies now offer a type of insurance designed to cover the cost if your boiler breaks down or needs a repair. The cost of a yearly maintenance check should also be covered under this insurance. There is some debate if this insurance is a good idea or not especially for new installations. New boilers are unlikely to fail within the first few years and if they do, the cost to repair is relatively low. However, for peace of mind many people like to have this insurance in place.
If you choose to buy boiler insurance you should carefully check what is covered and what is not. You may not be able to get a replacement and some types of breakdown may not be covered.
Looking after your new gas boiler
Gas boilers generally need very little maintenance by the homeowner and in fact, it is very unwise to complete any maintenance on it at all. Your boiler manual will give you general advice on looking after the boiler, but yearly maintenance should be carried out by a qualified person.
Most modern boilers have an anti-seize function designed to spin the pump of the boiler for a few minutes if it has not been used for some time. This can prevent problems when it is used after the Summer. You should also take care to avoid frozen pipes by turning on the boiler for at least an hour or so everyday during the winter – this will keep the water in the central heating pipes running free.
If your boiler does break down, you can use the manual to carry out the restarting process and if this fails you should check the troubleshooting section. An expert will be able to help if all else fails.
Energy saving tips
Once you have gone to the expense of getting a new boiler it really is important that you make the most of it by saving as much energy as possible in your home. It is pointless exercise to buy an A-rated boiler if you haven’t insulated your loft, as an example. You have already saved as much as £300 a year by getting a new boiler – so why not try and save a little more?
- Use thermostats and timers wisely – it is estimated that a thermostat, used wisely, can save you up to £150 per year on your heating bills and this can be improved by getting a thermostat that learns your routine such as NEST. You should think carefully about setting your thermostat at a comfortable level and set your timer to only come on when really needed.
- Install TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) – these allow you to individually set your radiator thermostats. You can choose the temperature you want to maintain in each room and even turn off the radiator in those rooms you don’t use often.
- Make your home efficient – take the time to check your home for obvious areas where you are losing energy and heat. This may be the loft, if it is inadequately insulated, the walls if you don’t have wall cavity insulation, your doors and windows if they are not double glazed and even your floors if there are gaps.
- Save hot water – turn your appliances down to 30 degrees for washing and cleaning. It is proven that this is a good temperature for getting clothes clean and for keeping them in good condition. Only turn on your water heating if needed – most homes can survive on a tank of hot water that is heated just once or twice a day.