Heating Radiator, White radiator in an apartment.

Electric heating has in past been seen as an expensive and ineffective heating method that was only a last resort to heat homes that were either off the gas network or multi-storey flats that could not have gas. Electric storage heaters are the type of electric heating that tend to spring to mind as a form of inflexible electric heating. But as technology has advanced is electric heating a viable option for more UK homes?

Electric boilers

Electric boilers are often cheaper and easier to install than gas, LPG, oil boilers and they are more flexible as they tend to be smaller and have fewer restrictions of where they can be fitted as they do not need a flue, so they do not have to go on an external wall and they are quieter.

There is also a wider range of electric boilers available on the market that can heat both your home and your hot water. They can be combined with storage heaters or radiators. An electric central heating system can offer you most of the advantages, control, and flexibility that a gas central heating system offers, and remove the need for storage and delivers for other fuels like LPG, oil, and biomass.

Pros and cons of electric boilers

Electric boilers have a few distinct advantages:
· Cheaper to install
· Quieter to run
· Can be installed anywhere as there is no flue and tend to be smaller
· No need to store fuel like LPG, oil, and biomass systems
· More environmentally friendly than gas, LPG, or oil alternatives
· More energy efficient than other boilers

However, there are several big disadvantages:

· More expensive to run
· May not be compatible with Economy 7/10 tariffs depending on when you heat your home
· Tend to be smaller systems that may not be sufficient for larger homes

Who might benefit from electric boilers?

Electric boilers at present are a more viable option for those who can’t have gas in their home as financial it compares well. It also offers more convenience than some of the alternatives as electric boilers have better controls and flexibility than storage heaters, and it does not have the storage needs or resupply issues that LPG, oil, and biomass systems have.

Homes that generate their own electricity may also benefit from switching to electric boilers if their renewable system, such as solar PV or wind turbines, produces electricity at times when the boiler is in use, and if the system produces a high amount of electricity then costs may balance out.

What does the future hold for electric heating?

Advancements in electric boilers will continue to increase the effectiveness of them and bring the cost of them down so that they become a more viable mainstream option. The energy market continues to evolve and the advancements in renewable energy are starting to bring down the cost of generating energy sustainably, and with the developments in energy storage, it is making the increase in larger scale renewables viable in the electricity mix as storage allows the inconsistent supply to be evened out.

As the pressure to reduce dependency on natural gas continues and reserves are depleted the price of gas may rise and incentives to switch to other forms of heating might make electric heating more viable.

Whether electric heating is a feasible and cost-effective option to you and your home will depend on your circumstances and what you need from your heating system. If it is not an option now it may well become an option for you in the future.

Property ladder

All of us want to save energy and reduce our electricity and gas bills, but much of the advice and schemes that are available to help people do this are aimed at homeowners. These include free insulation schemes, boiler replacement offers, window improvement schemes and general advice surrounding improving the home to avoid draughts and leaks. Many tenants feel that they simply have to put up with whatever the landlord has provided and make savings where they can.

However changes are about to come into effect (from April 2018 for new builds and lets and for existing from 2020), that will make it a legal obligation for landlords to offer a minimum standard of energy performance for their properties. This will insist that a property must meet an Energy Performance Certificate level of E – giving tenants a standard that at least gives them something to rely on.

In the meantime, it is worth noting that from April 2016 it became illegal for a landlord to refuse to allow tenants to carry out energy savings improvements on their properties – as long as the tenant is willing to pay. A number of conditions have to be met, but if you are willing to get the work properly done, the landlord should agree.

The landlord can also take advantage of a number of relief schemes to allow them to have the property insulated and improved. This is set against their tax obligations and can improve their property enough to allow them to charge more rent. This may not seem like a win for you as a tenant, but is still an incentive for the landlord to have work carried out. The key here is to talk to your landlord and see what they are willing to do.

If all else fails, there are a number of things you can do that is cheap and will not materially change the structure of the home – ensuring you don’t cause damage that might end up costing you more.

● Use heavy drapes or curtains in the winter that fall all the way to the floor. These will keep out draughts from the windows.
● Invest in some rugs if you have wooden floors. Much of the heat lost in your home is due to leaky floors.
● Use all available systems to avoid using too much hot water or heating. This means thermostats and timers. If yours don’t work well, ask for them to be replaced.
● Ask your landlord if you can have a smart meter installed – this will help you to see the amount you are using
● Try adding reflective backing to your radiators to reflect heat into the room.
● Add removable secondary glazing to your windows. This is easily found in DIY stores and involves simple adhesive films that stick to the existing window frames.

Composite image of clean energy house

Was saving money one of your New Year’s resolutions? This national day is perfect for you, not just a fad or gimmick it really is common sense as every home could make huge energy-savings if they haven’t already adopted energy saving habits or adapted their home.

Here are some great tips that you can do with little effort or expense through to those things that require a bit more investment but will reap greater savings:

1. Simple switch

Check you are getting the best rates for your energy on a regular basis as many UK households are on standard but expensive tariffs after their fixed price deal has ended. Challenge your supplier to reduce your bills or have a look at our comparison checker to see how much you could save; our users average saving is £394.87 per year.

2. Turn it off

We all know we should turn things off but in reality we don’t. According to the Energy Savings Trust (EST) you could save £30 per year by turning appliances off.

3. The heat is on

Cooking uses a lot of energy but you can reduce your spend by only boiling the amount of water needed in the kettle, by putting lids on pans, and use the oven or hob instead of the microwave.

4. Bathroom habits

Washing is essential and we wouldn’t suggest you skip it but you could save money through showering rather than bathing. You could save more by reducing your shower by 1 minute (family of 4 could save £80 per year according to the EST), or you could get an energy saving shower head to reduce the water consumption.

5. Turn down the heat

Did you know that turning down the thermostat by 1 degree could save you £80-85 per year according to the EST? So, instead of turning up the thermostat add a layer on yourself instead and reap the savings.

6. Smarter energy

Understand your energy consumption through a smart energy meter and end estimated bills. All energy companies are obligated to supply smart meters by 2020 but many are already installing them now. There is no charge for exchanging your meter if your supplier is installing them.

7. Dress your home for winter

Insulating your home and reducing draughts can save you a considerable amount on your energy bills as well as make your home more comfortable. Annual savings of £10-225 for insulating your loft, £70-425 for insulating your walls (depending on your house and wall type), and £25 for draught proofing could be achieved according to the EST. Take a look at our guide about insulation to see if your home could benefit, if you could be eligible for a grant and find an installer.

8. Have greater control

Make your heating easier to manage through adding heating controls to your existing system, such as a room thermostat, thermostat radiator valves (TRVs), or heating programmers to allow you to heat your home how and when you need to. The addition of these controls could save you around £75 per year according to the EST. Investing in smart heating controls like HIVE or NEST can help you manage your heating even more effectively.

9. Seeing the light

Lighting advancements have evolved a lot over the last 10 years and if you haven’t upgraded your bulbs to energy efficient LED lighting then you should look to switch as they last longer too. And if you like high-tech gadgets why not get some smart bulbs that allow you to control them with your smart phone or voice so there’s no excuse for leaving them on. You can even control them when you are away from home and dim them to reduce energy usage.

10.Inefficient heating

Heating accounts for 60% of energy bills so if you have an old inefficient boiler then it’s time to consider getting a new model, you could save £55-320 per year according to the EST. An old boiler costs more to run and is probably starting to become unreliable and uneconomical to repair. With pay monthly boilers available you can even use your savings to pay towards your new boiler. If you are interested in a new boiler take a look at our guide and offers available, including accessing grants.

11.Out with the old

Like your old boiler, old appliances such as washers, driers, fridges, and cookers can be costing you more to run. When you can, switch them for a new model and check the energy rating to ensure you can make the maximum savings.

12.When the sun shines

When the sun shines don’t just hang out your washing, generate your own energy through solar panels. But of course, it’s not just when the sun is shining that solar panels can harness the suns energy which is why the UK climate is suitable for solar panels. You can either generate electricity or utilise the sun to heat your hot water. And with the Government’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) scheme you can be paid for using solar panels. Find out more about solar panels and find an installer.
Act now!

Now each of these tips in insolation might not reduce your energy bills by much but making several adjustments and investing in energy-saving will soon pay for itself with the savings you make. And now really is the time to act whilst you can still reap the benefits during the high energy usage months of cold, dark days.

Circular futuristic interface of smart home automation assistant, virtual screen

The government has been working hard over the last few years to rollout smart meters to all homes in a bid to allow us all to monitor our energy usage and hopefully save money in the process. However, the rollout has taken many years and in the meantime, the technology has moved on. There is now a new generation of smart meters available that are considered better than the first generation options – unfortunately leaving the first adopters slightly behind in the technology stakes.

According to government data, there are currently around 7.7 million smart gas and electricity meters installed in UK homes, with a further 53 million still to be installed before 2020. Many of these are the first generation meters which could well be superseded by the next generation that appear to offer a better option for the energy companies and consumers alike.

British Gas has trialled a new generation smart meter for their customers that allows customers to track their energy use (just like the older ones) but also to take advantage of a raft of other energy saving options. These include time-of-use tariffs, energy trading, solar energy and they are completely transportable between energy companies – allowing easy switching.

One of the main issues with the first generation meters is that customers discover that their meter stops working when they switch energy companies, forcing them to start taking meter readings again, while they wait for their new supplier to issue them with a new meter. The issue is related to the meters being unable to communicate externally via the wide area network.

The largest manufacturer of these new generation smart meters, known as SMETS2 (Smart meter Equipment Technical Specification) meters is Landis+Gyr who say that their product is able to read fluctuations in the energy supply of an entire home – especially where there are solar panels installed and storage batteries are used. This means that the National Grid can balance energy use more effectively.

The government has recognised that these new meters are an important step in their program of meter rollout and have placed an end date on the installation of these first-generation meters of July 2018. After that, all new meters will be SMET2 and therefore capable of dealing with the way that we use energy in our homes both now and into the future.

Mother and daughters using a tablet by a fireplace on Christmas

We all know that Christmas is expensive. Once it is all added up including the extra food, the Christmas dinner, the travel costs and of course the Christmas gifts, the costs can rocket into the hundreds and even thousands. But have you ever thought of the additional cost of-of the energy you are using over the festive period and if it might be possible to reduce it? It might not offset the other costs, but it makes sense to make savings wherever possible.

Cooking the Christmas Dinner

Research carried out by GoCompare Energy in 2016 estimated that the UK spends £15m collectively just to cook Christmas Dinner as it will usually take 5 hours for a turkey to cook. If you compare that to an average 30 mins to 1 hour cooking time for the average family meal, it is easy to see how quickly it can add up.

Leaving the lights on

The research also showed that on average we spend an extra £3.75 per day to cover the cost of Christmas lights. If you happen to have a house that is festooned with colourful light displays, you can expect this to be many times more.

The cost of staying home

Most of us take time off work over the Christmas holidays and with it being cold outside we cosy up at home. This means our homes are heated, the lights are on and we use our electrical equipment. This is estimated at an additional cost of around £20 per household across the two week period.

Overall most households can expect to spend around £50 more during the festive season on their energy costs than they do at other times. When you’re struggling with the costs of Christmas that really can add up.

What can we do to reduce this cost?

● Only put on your Christmas lights in the evening and not all day
● Make sure your home is insulated well and that curtains are pulled and doors closed
● Buy the size turkey you need for your family and not a larger one – it will cut down cooking time
● Cook several things at once while the oven is on – if you have space.
● Turn the heating off while the oven is on – the house will warm up naturally
● Try to get out and about over Christmas and don’t sit indoors using up energy when you could be outside having fun.
● Buy everyone a funny Christmas jumper and make them wear it!