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Heating your home

Electric heating

Benefits

  • Low carbon heating solution
  • Generally simple and straightforward to install
  • Negligible maintenance requirements

What is electric heating?

Electric heating refers to any system which uses electricity as the main energy source to heat the home. It covers many types of heating, but for most people it would mean either storage heaters, electric boilers or underfloor heating. It would not normally be used to describe heat pumps, which do not use electricity to provide heating directly. Find out more about heat pumps.

Electricity is becoming an increasingly low carbon form of heating, as more renewable sources like wind and solar power are connected to the electricity grid, replacing existing gas and coal power stations.

In the future, we expect carbon emissions from electricity to continue to drop, and for electricity to become a very low carbon source of energy and heat.  However, while electricity is becoming lower carbon, it currently remains expensive compared to gas and other fossil fuels.

Recent housing condition surveys estimate that around 7% of households across England, 5% households in Wales and 11% of households in Scotland heat their homes using electricity. In Northern Ireland, it’s estimated that around 8% of households use electric heating

Electric heating is more common in flats, rented properties, and in homes with no mains gas connection.

What are the benefits of electric heating?

Low capital cost to install and very little maintenance required.

Electric heating doesn’t require a ‘wet’ central heating system to deliver heat (except for electric boilers).

It can be used flexibly to deliver heat to one room at a time if required, or to ‘top up’ other heating systems.

Installation costs

Electric boiler (approximate costs for replacing a gas boiler)£2500
Electric underfloor heating£500-£1000 per room
Storage heaters£750-£1000 per room
Storage heaters in a new dwelling£500-£750 per room
Electric panel heaters£300-£500 per room

Maintenance

Electric heating systems generally don’t require much maintenance. Appliances such as panel heaters and storage heaters can be checked for safety periodically – every five years would be a good guideline.

Different types of electric heating

There are many different types of electric heating systems and appliances. Understanding how to use them efficiently could help you save money on your heating bill.

Should I replace my electric heating system?

If you currently heat your house using electricity, it’s likely your bills are higher than the UK average, but your carbon emissions could be relatively low. If you want to reduce your running costs and emissions as much as possible then you could consider switching to a heat pump or biomass boiler. If you’re not ready to make that change then you might want to make sure you have modern efficient storage heaters and controls to keep your bills and emissions under control.

Which electric heating system is right for me?

The best heating system will be the one that matches your home and budget. Direct electric heating is cheap to install as it doesn’t require radiators or wet underfloor heating, however it is typically more expensive to run than other forms of heating. If you live in a very well insulated or small property, this might not matter to you. For some people, direct electric heating is very expensive, especially in older, less insulated, properties.

Insulation

An insulated home with a well-controlled heating system will help reduce how much you spend on heating bills, whatever form of heating you have. Find out more about insulation, draught-proofing and having an energy efficient home.

Finding an installer

We recommend you get quotes from at least three installers for any new electric heating system. Make sure the salesperson is aware of the details of your current electricity meter and tariff. Be cautious of heavy-handed sales techniques like pressure to sign on the day, high prices with large discounts, and discounts only available if you sign a contract on the spot.

We recommend finding an installer registered with a trade association, such as the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT), or in Scotland, SELECT, the trade association for the Scottish electrical contracting industry.  Trade association members follow the association’s code of practice to make sure they provide a good quality service.

Last updated: 14 October 2021