6 things to know before buying a new boiler…
If you’re worried about whether you can still buy a gas boiler – don’t be! Whilst there was a lot of talk about ‘phasing out’ and ‘phasing down’ fossil fuels at COP26, the government’s ambition is to phase out gas boilers after 2035.
Any existing boilers or boilers installed before that date won’t be affected.
So, most of us will be getting gas boilers for the foreseeable future. But by choosing your boiler (and installer!) wisely, you can still help to lower your carbon footprint and cut your energy bills.
Getting a new boiler is a big investment that you’ll be wanting to keep you and your family warm and comfortable for the next 10-15 years – so it’s important to get it right.
You’ll want to choose the right boiler for your home; from a brand you can rely on; installed by an expert who can help you get the best out of it.
Since buying a boiler is a big decision, we’ve created a list of 6 important things that you should consider before handing over your hard-earned money…
1. The importance of the installer
Unfortunately, people often take for granted the importance of choosing an expert engineer to install their new boiler.
And the issue here isn’t just about safety (although that’s very important!) – the installer themselves is the number one contributor to heating system efficiency, far more than the boiler you choose.
Let’s take a look at the two reasons why choosing an expert engineer is so important:
So first and foremost, safety. Only Gas Safe registered engineers can legally fit, fix, and service gas appliances.
Gas Safe engineers hold gas qualifications which mean that they are qualified to work on gas.
Despite the law being very clear on Gas Safety, British Gas estimates that around 1.1 million gas jobs are carried out by illegal fitters who aren’t properly qualified, every year.
This is a frightening statistic, because unsafe gas appliances pose risk of gas leaks; fires and explosions; and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Rest assured, that our engineers at The Heating People hold valid and current Gas Safe qualifications for working on gas.
Optimising the efficiency of your heating system
The second reason that choosing an expert installer is so important, is that your engineer is the number one contributor to your heating system’s efficiency.
Your choice of installer is more important than your choice of boiler. A bold claim, right?!
But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. You wouldn’t ask an ordinary mechanic who’s spent the last thirty years doing MOTs for old ladies to fine tune a Formula 1 race car, and expect it to perform to its optimum capability, would you?
Well, the same is true of boiler installation.
There’s little point in spending a fortune on an all-singing-all-dancing boiler that promises A-rated efficiencies, and then handing it to a Charlatan that doesn’t even have a gas qualification.
Choose a Heat Geek!
To get the best out of your new boiler, you need an expert engineer who understands emitter sizing, pipe sizing, hydraulic layout and principles.
An ‘engineer’ who wants to throw a boiler on the wall after simply counting your radiators either doesn’t understand these things or is just plain lazy.
Either way, you won’t get the efficiencies promised on your boiler’s box. These are only potential efficiencies. You need an expert who can commission your system in such a way that your boiler meets its potential.
Thankfully, you won’t find any of our engineers counting radiators. We install boilers the right way, following the industry standard (Part L of the Energy Efficiency Regulations).
Our tailored service uses scientific calculations to match you with the perfect boiler for your home and lifestyle.
The Heating People are also proud to be part of the Heat Geek Elite. If you’ve not heard of Heat Geeks before, we’ve linked to their website at the end of this article.
Heat Geek’s mission is to help the UK successfully transition to renewables whilst also improving existing heating installation efficiencies by training as many heating engineers as possible — helping reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.
This is something we’re passionate about too. We’re tired of the one-size-fits-all approach to boiler installation.
We’ve undergone Heat Geek’s in-depth heating system design courses so that you can be sure that we can obtain the highest efficiencies from your heating system.
Which leads us on to our next point…
2. The importance of an efficient boiler
Here at The Heating People, we’re passionate about efficient heating – and we’re not alone!
But if you’re not sure why everyone’s banging on about efficiency, here it is in a nutshell…
At its simplest, your boiler powers your heating by burning fuel (usually gas). This accounts for about 60% of your energy bill. The less fuel your boiler burns, the lower your energy bills.
Modern efficient boilers need to burn less fuel to keep you comfortable. Older inefficient boilers burn loads more fuel to do exactly the same job, which makes them more expensive to run, and worse for the planet.
So, depending on the age of your current boiler, replacing it with a newer model can save you money and reduce your carbon emissions.
The way you can tell what you stand to save, is by comparing the ‘Energy Related Products’ rating, or ErP rating of your current boiler, with the one you’re thinking of getting.
The ErP rating allows you to compare the efficiency of appliances in your home. The highest (and most efficient) rating for a boiler is ‘A’ and the lowest is ‘G’.
According to The Energy Saving Trust (EST), you can save over £300 a year on your energy bills by replacing an old G-rated boiler with an A-rated one.
All modern boilers are A-rated with over 90% efficiency. So, to increase your overall efficiency when you’re not switching from a very old boiler to a new one, you need to look beyond the boiler itself.
Heating controls to improve efficiency
All boilers should as a minimum include a programmer (time control); at least one room thermostat; and thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) on radiators. Systems with a hot water cylinder should also include a cylinder thermostat.
According to the EST, just having these basic controls could save you £75 a year and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 320kg.
But you don’t need to stop with the basics.
There are many other heating controls and smart controls that you can add to improve your heating system’s efficiency. The bonus is that smart controls are convenient and allow you to take control of your heating remotely.
How much money can be saved with smart controls?
Manufacturers of smart controls make bold claims about how much money you could potentially save after installing their products.
Tado says that its smart thermostat ‘will pay for itself within a year’ by reducing your heating bills by up to 31%.
Netatmo claims that its smart thermostat will reduce the energy you use by 37%.
According to Ofgem, a smart thermostat can bring savings of around £150 per year. Ofgem (2014) estimates that a multi zoned heating system could save up to £400 on the annual dual fuel bill of £1385.
But all these estimates assume that you previously left your heating on all the time, to maintain a constant temperature. So, if you already turn off the heating when you leave your home, you’re unlikely to save as much as the manufacturers claim.
When recommending your perfect new boiler, The Heating People will also be able to advise you on what your best control options are.
You might like our related blog: Does smart heating save money?
3. The importance of a reliable boiler
As well as being efficient, you’ll want your boiler to be reliable. The more reliable your new boiler, the less money you’ll have to shell out on expensive repairs.
The good news is that there are many fantastic boiler manufacturers who produce boilers of outstanding quality and reliability.
And this leads us on to a tricky question that we get asked a lot – which brand is best?!
With so many different boiler manufacturers available, each offering their own large range of models, choosing a boiler can be a daunting task.
But just as there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ boiler for everybody, there’s no ‘right’ boiler brand either.
Each brand (and individual model within the brand) has their own pros and cons, which need to be weighed up for your needs.
But it’s definitely a good idea to do a bit of research into what options are available, so that you can make an informed choice on what will be the hardest working appliance in your home for at least the next decade.
Here at The Heating People, we’re not tied to any one manufacturer, we can work with all of them. But we do have our favourites! We’re proud to be Worcester Bosch Accredited Installers; Vaillant Advance Installers; Viessmann Trained Installers; and ATAG Selected Partners.
4. The importance of boiler type
One of the first things you need to know when you’re looking for a new boiler is what type of boiler you need.
There are three main types of boilers: combination or ‘combi’ boilers; system boilers; and heat-only or conventional boilers. We’ve written separate blogs about each of these types of boilers, but in a nutshell…
Combi boilers are currently the most popular type of boiler sold in the UK. They deliver your hot water and heating from one single unit, without the need for external tanks or cylinders. Combis take cold-water directly from the mains and then heat the water on demand.
System boilers also take their cold water directly from the mains, but unlike a combi, it heats the water and stores it in a hot water cylinder. Storing hot water in a cylinder means that system boilers can provide large quantities of hot water to multiple outlets at the same time.
Heat-only or conventional boilers
These boilers are often seen as the traditional way of heating a home, hence the name ‘conventional’. These boilers take their cold water from a cold-water tank that is kept in the attic.
The water gets heated before being sent to a separate hot water cylinder to be stored until it’s needed. Similarly to a system boiler, they can supply multiple outlets at the same time because they store hot water.
Which type of boiler do I need?
Which type of boiler you need will depend upon several factors, which The Heating People will discuss with you as part of your free survey.
And just because you currently have one type of boiler, doesn’t mean you have to have the same again.
You need to consider whether you want to replace like for like, or whether you want to take the opportunity to change to a completely different type of boiler system.
If you’re generally happy with what your old boiler offered when it was working well, then a replacement boiler similar to the old one could be a good option.
But if your circumstances have changed (maybe your family has grown) since you last had a boiler installed, you might be better switching to a different type of system.
5. The importance of size
When it comes to heating, size matters!
Investing in the right size boiler will keep you and your family comfortable, without wasting energy and money.
This is such an important (but often overlooked) point when it comes to boiler installation, that we’ve dedicated a whole blog to it – which you can read here.
Choosing the correct size boiler is crucial.
If it’s too big it will run inefficiently and will be wasting energy and money.
But if it’s too small, it might not be powerful enough to heat your home, or give you enough hot water.
In the past, the physical size of your property and the number of radiators you had, was the only thing used to determine boiler size. And unfortunately, you’ll probably still find a lot of heating engineers using this crude method!
But this is inaccurate. It wasn’t the right way to do it in the past. And it isn’t the right way to do it now.
But it’s easy to see why ‘engineers’ (see important point 1) who aren’t following industry standard will oversize boilers.
It’s easier to massively oversize a boiler ‘just in case’ rather than completing the heat loss calculations required to size it correctly. What do they care if your energy bill is sky high in a few months time?!
Size your boiler with heat loss calculations
Rest assured that The Heating People follow industry standard and carry out heat-loss calculations to determine the correct size of boiler for your home.
Heat loss is the gold standard in determining the correct size of boiler for your home under Part L of the Energy Efficiency Regulations. These regulations provide guidance on the conservation of fuel and power under The Building Regulations Act 2010.
Heat loss calculations determine your property’s heat transfer coefficient by looking at the thermal transmittance or ‘U-values’ of all the external fabric of your building, along with its volume and average ventilation rate.
The altitude and exposure of your home will also affect this.
The calculation provides the total space heating energy flow rate in watts divided by the temperature difference between the inside and outside air.
Or, in other words, a heat loss calculation works out how quickly heat can escape out of the fabric of your home, whether from conduction, convection, or radiation, on the coldest day of the year.
This allows you to choose the optimum size of boiler for your needs and avoid wasting energy and money whilst being comfortably warm.
6. The lowest price is not always the best
This links to our first point – finding the right installer. The right boiler installed by an expert installer will pay for itself.
But you need to think beyond the initial purchase price and consider the long-term costs.
Often people think that just because the boiler being installed is the same that the work involved is also the same.
But as we’ve explained earlier, there’s a big difference between an unqualified ‘engineer’ who deliberately oversizes a boiler to save him doing any work, and an expert who does the job properly!
You won’t need to look very far to find a fitter with no qualifications who throws boilers on the wall illegally and cheaply.
But you’ll end up paying more down the line through excessive energy bills and on boiler repairs for your boiler that is constantly ‘cycling’.
Rather than buying simply on price, you should remember that this is probably the most expensive and important appliance in your home. You want to still be happy with it 10-15 years down the line.
As with many things in life, you get what you pay for!
We hope you’ve found this article helpful.
For tailored advice on your boiler installation, contact us today to book your free survey. We can offer guarantees of up to 14 years, for your peace of mind.