Household gas bills are commonly £750 - £1,000, depending on property size, age and heating system efficiency. With such an old housing stock in the UK, it is often difficult for us to insulate our houses beyond roof insulation and double glazing. As a result, there is little that can be done to improve heat retention of our homes. But we can the efficiency of our heating systems and in doing so reduce our energy bills. In this guide we explain what measures we can take to improve the energy efficiency of our heating systems.
Energy Efficiency | Boiler Efficiency | Energy Saving Tips
Overview of energy saving and boiler efficiency guide
Modern condensing boilers are up to 94% efficient. Boilers that are more than 20 years old can be as little as 60% efficient. What does that mean? A boiler's 'energy efficiency' is the percentage of the total energy used by the boiler to provide useful heating. For a modern boiler with 94% efficiency, 94% of the energy used by the boiler goes to heating the home, only 6% is 'lost'/used to run itself. For a very old boiler with 60% efficiency, only 60% of the energy used by the boiler goes to heating the home, a whopping 40% is lost.
What is the efficiency of your boiler? As a rough guide assume:
- Over 20 years old: 60% efficient
- 20 years old: 70% efficient
- 15 years old 75% efficient
- 10+ years old 80% efficient
Replacing a boiler that is more than 10 years olds is therefore likely to improve your boiler efficiency by 14% - 34%.
Annual bills are around £750 - £1000. We know that installing a new A-rate condensing boiler will improve efficiencies by 14% - 34%.
Replacing a boiler that is only just over 10 years old will not greatly reduce your gas bills. If it is reliable, with low maintenance costs, then there seems little point replacing it. However poorly designed boilers with high maintenance costs would probably be worth replacing.
A 20+ year old boiler on the other hand will be very inefficienct and upgrading to a modern boiler would likely save the higher figure of around £340 per year.
Calculate your own energy bill saving:
1) Take your annual heating bill for last year, as an example lets say it is £800.
2) Estimate the efficiency of your current boiler based on its age, for example 70%
3) Look up the efficiency of your new boiler (see any one of our boiler price guides), lets say 94%
4) Deduct your existing boiler efficiency of 70% from the new boiler efficiency of 94% to calculate the efficiency improvement, in this case 24%
5) Multiple your annual fuel bill by the efficiency improvement % to get your fuel saving figure: £800 x 0.24 = £192 saving per annum
A ‘payback’ period is the number of years it will take to recoup the upfront cost of a new boiler via fuel bill savings and reduced maintenance costs.
The cost of a new boiler installation commonly varies from as little as £1,400 for a straightforward ‘swap’ of an entry level, heat-only boiler. To perhaps £4,000 for a large, premium quality combi boiler, with everything in-between. Most new boiler installations cost between £2,000 - £3,000.
At £2,500 say, a new boiler that brings an energy saving of £340 per annum will recoup its installation cost in 7.3 years, based fuel savings alone. This will be quicker for an LPG boiler because bottled gas is more expensive per kW hour.
This ‘payback’ period is much quicker if you factor in maintenance costs on the old boiler over the period. With many manufacturers now offering warranty periods of up to 10 years on their boilers, the new boiler has often paid for itself well within the period that the manufacturer will continue to repair it under warranty or guarantee.
Boiler efficiency is of course important and may bring decent savings. However heating system efficiency is just as important and can cost a lot less to improve!
Heating system improvements
A heating system without any kind of heating control will waste energy being on when no one is home and heating rooms that are little used.
Installing thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) and a central heating programmer will improve the efficiency of your heating system enormously.
Thermostatic radiator valves will allow you to turn some radiators down or off and a programmer will allow you to only have the heating on when you're home, for example mornings and evenings.. Homes without heating controls can save £100s by turning down or off the radiators in bedrooms for example and restricting the times the heating is on, mornings and evenings for example.
The total cost for 7 TRVs can be as little £100 in parts and perhaps £150 in labour. The cost of a programmable room stat will be about £140 in parts and £60 - £150 (as a very rough guide) in labour depending on whether the engineer needs to run a wire to the boiler or not; some programmers will work remotely without a wire!
If you have a reasonably new boiler (less than 10 years) and it is reliable, then it is first worth considering heating system efficiency measures before considering a new boiler. For more on system efficiency read our Guide to All Heating Controls.
Other energy saving measures
More sophisticated heating controls, including Smart thermostats, smart radiator valves and weather compensated controls, offer further efficiencies and fuel savings. Read our Guide on Smart Thermostats and Smart Heating Controls to find out more.