Electric boilers tend to have a reputation for being expensive to run…but are they?
This reputation is commonly due to any experience of the use of old-school wall mounted electric heaters, or the knowledge that on average a unit of gas is cheaper than a unit of electricity.
But is this generalisation fair and an accurate representation of modern electric boilers?
In this guide, we will be analysing the cost of running electric boilers versus gas boilers, along with discussing other factors such as energy efficiency, maintenance costs and other concerns.
For example, safety factors when deciding which type of boiler would be most suitable for your property and household requirements.
Firstly, let’s explore what is a modern electric boiler.
What is an Electric Boiler?
An electric boiler utilises an internal electric element in order to heat water that is used to supply taps, cylinders and or radiators, without the use of oil or gas.
Electric boilers can be installed in locations that do not have access to the gas mains supply and are often most suited for small to medium-sized properties.
Types of electric boilers
Electric storage boiler
This type of boiler is often easy to install however does require space for the necessary hot water storage tank.
Cost-effective running can be achieved by selecting an off-peak energy tariff and heating the water within the storage take overnight.
If you want to learn about the best way to heat your conservatory, you may want to check out our guide on which electric heater is cheapest to run, you may be surprised to find out that it is not a halogen heater.
Combi boilers provide both heating and electric, however do not require a hot water tank. Instead, combi-boilers work by heating hot water on demand, directly from the mains.
Dry core storage
This type of boiler works by utilising special bricks that sit inside the unit and release heat into the water for either central heating or hot water, as needed.
Dry core storage units can be operated overnight using off-peak tariffs in order to benefit from cheaper energy rates.
Solar Panel Compatible
Electric boilers can also be installed in collaboration with eco-friendly options such as solar panels to heat a storage tank full of water.
Wondering which boiler manufacturers performed best? Check out our best boiler brands guide for the full rundown and if you are trying to determine who the best boiler installation company is, check out our Warmzilla and Boxt reviews.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric and Gas Boilers
Advantages of Electric Boilers
- No requirement for Gas or Oil – Electric boilers provide an option to those rural properties, located away from the mains gas supply.
Stable Energy Costs – Electric boilers can protect from the fluctuations in oil and gas prices.
- Quiet – Electric boilers tend to operate more quietly.
- Safer – Electric boiler do not omit dangerous waste gasses such as carbon monoxide and therefore are deemed safer than gas boilers.
- Less Maintenance – Electric boilers have fewer moving parts compared with gas boilers and therefore there are less maintenance tasks and less change of problems occurring. In addition, electric boilers do not require an annual service.
- Cheaper Installation – It is often cheaper to install an electric boiler compared with other alternatives as there is no requirement for a boiler flue or for the boiler to be placed on an external wall, providing more flexibility with installation locations.
- Greener Energy – Electric boilers do not utilise fossil fuels to make a source of heat.
Advantages of Gas Boilers
- Can Meet Higher Demand – Gas boilers are often very powerful and can meet the demand of large households.
- More Availability and Choice – There is a bigger market of gas boilers and therefore the consumer has more choice of brands and models to choose from.
- Supply – Gas supply is often very stable.
- Replacement Options – A like for like gas boiler replacement is often very straightforward for a registered Gas Safe heating engineer to complete.
Disadvantages of Electric Boilers
- Demand Limitations – Electric boilers have limitations when it comes to demand and therefore are often not recommended for larger properties with a high demand for hot water.
- Single Source of Power – Electric boilers are solely reliant on the supply of electric for their power source and therefore in the event of a power cut, all heating and hot water will be affected.
Disadvantages of Gas Boilers
- Installation Costs – The cost of installation including the boiler flue can be expensive, especially if there are changes required to the pipework in place.
- Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Gas boilers emit dangerous gases when in operation and therefore carbon monoxide detectors are required as well as regular servicing.
Did you know the efficiency of your boiler can impact the amount of energy it uses and ultimately impact your heating bill costs? Check out our guide to the best condensing boilers if you are interested to find out more.
You may also find our review of the best eco-friendly boilers of interest.
Are Electric Boilers More Expensive to Run than Gas Boilers?
So far, although we have discussed installation and maintenance cost considerations of both gas and electric boilers, however, we have not mentioned the monthly running costs between gas and electric.
On average the price of a unit of electric is roughly four times the price of a unit of gas, therefore on face value, electric boilers are expected to cost more to run. However, there are other factors to consider such as:
- Energy Usage – The actual monthly energy cost to run either boiler will depend on the actual household’s consumption of energy.
- Efficiency of the Boiler – Every boiler will waste some energy when in operation however on average, electric boilers have a higher energy efficiency rate compared with gas boilers. The energy efficiency of boilers has improved a lot over the past few years with improvements to technology, however generally electric boilers are often rated 99-100% energy efficient, whereas gas boilers are usually rated around 93% efficient.
- Use of Renewables – Traditionally electricity has been generated by the use of fossil fuels however this is changing as the world becomes more climate conscious and moves towards increased sources of renewable energy. Electric boilers can be purchased to work in combination with solar panels for example, reducing the requirement.
- Servicing and maintenance – As we have briefly mentioned, electric boilers are not required to be annually serviced alike gas boilers and on average have less maintenance costs due to having less moving parts inside the boiler that wear and require maintenance.
When considering whether gas or electric is more cost-effective for your household requirements, it is worthwhile factoring in the whole life costs, including the installation and maintenance cost.
Prices vary across the market and between manufacturers therefore it is worth shopping around initially and considering all costs before making a final decision.
Should you need any further assistance in establishing if a gas or electric boiler would be most suitable for your property, please seek the advice from a professional heating engineer.
What are the Best Electric Boilers?
Should you have undertaken sufficient research and concluded that an electric boiler is suitable for your property, you’ll then need to whittle down which make and model would be best.
To assist with this, please find our top five rated electric boilers are as follows:
- Electric Heating Company’s Comet Combi Boiler – This boiler range comes in a variety of sizes and are 100% efficient.
- Heatrea Sadia’s Electromax Combi Boiler – Heatrae Sadia are owned by Baxi boilers which are popular within the UK, and offer 99.8% efficiency.
- Elnur’s Mattira MAC15 – This boiler comes in a wide range of energy output sizes and has a user-friendly digital operating display.
- THERMAFlow’s Electric Combi Boiler – A newer boiler brand on the market, however, offers a high energy efficient option, available in 6 output sizes.
- Electric Combi Boiler’s Company Elektra EKC Combi Boiler – An Italian manufactured boiler offering highly efficient yet quiet heating and hot water.
What size boiler is right for your home? If you are thinking about a combi boiler, it is largely determined by the number of radiators in your home.
Check out our complete guide to new boiler installation here if you are wondering about the best type of boiler for your home.
Are Electric Boilers Expensive to Run? In Summary
Although on face value a unit of electricity is more expensive than gas, we have seen that other factors including boiler efficiency and maintenance costs may balance out overall, resulting in an electric boiler being a cost-effective option for your home.