Central Heating Help & Advice

Learn about central heating, how it works, how much it costs, what to expect when
installing and some more helpful information.

Save up to £590 PER YEAR a year
with a new highly-efficient boiler.

Central Heating Help & Advice

Witten by Bernard Morgan (Engineer) & Adam Apperley (Marketing). Published: July 2, 2022. Updated: March 15, 2024

How does your central heating system work?

  1. The boiler uses fuel or electricity to heat up water.
  2. A pump circulates hot water to radiators and hot water tank, if you have one.
  3. The circulated hot water releases heat through your radiators into your home.
  4. The hot water is also used to heat fresh drinking water for taps and showers. This can be on-demand in a combi boiler, or through a hot water tank in a system and regular boiler.
  5. A thermostat monitors the temperature inside your home and switches the boiler on and off. You can also set daily timers.
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What should a new central heating system include?

  • An efficient, condensing boiler like a Viessmann, Worcester Bosch or Alpha
  • All copper pipework and as many radiators as needed
  • Installation by a Gas Safe registered heating engineer and removal of your boiler or storage radiators
  • A mains-powered chemical flush to clean and pipework and radiators that aren’t being removed
  • A 10 or 12-year manufacturer’s warranty to protect your new boiler
  • A room thermostat able to control your boiler based on the temperature inside your home

What types of central heating are there?

There are three main types of central heating and associated boilers – regular, system and combi.

  • Regular boilers are connected to a cold water storage tank in the loft. Fresh water is heated through a heat exchanger and pumped to a hot water cylinder, which is used in taps and showers. These setups are not pressurised and have a vented tank to allow the water in your heating system to expand.
  • System boilers don’t require a cold water storage tank as they work directly off the incoming mains water. The system is pressurised and unvented meaning it is a sealed system. The expansion of heated water is managed through an expansion vessel inside the boiler.
  • Combi boilers heat water directly from the mains on demand, removing the need for a cylinder or tank in the loft. Heating and hot water expansion are managed inside the boiler.

How do you fuel or power your central heating?

  • Natural gas is the most common way of heating your home in the UK, as most homes are connected to the gas network. Although prices have risen recently, gas is still the cheapest fuel.
  • LPG (or liquefied petroleum gas) presents a versatile alternative to natural gas. While it may be more expensive, the majority of gas boilers can be easily modified to accept LPG. Being available in portable bottles means LPG is common in caravans or static homes.
  • Oil boilers require a tank in your garden to supply the boiler. Oil tends to be cheaper than LPG because it is not pressurised so there is less processing. Oil boilers also mostly have an external version to save you room inside your home.
  • Biomass is generally wooden pellets from sustainable sources that is burnt to create heat. They are more expensive and specialised than gas, LPG or oil boilers. They also produce more emissions locally than other types of boilers.
  • Electric boilers are clean and efficient. However, electricity is approximately 3-4 times the price of natural gas. Higher-power electric boilers will also require a three-phase supply at your home.
  • Air source heat pumps are great for new or highly insulated homes. They work like a reverse fridge heating your home and hot water by extracting heat from the outside. They work at lower temperatures, however, so you may need thicker pipes and larger radiators than with other setups.

What’s the process of installing central heating?

If you would like a full breakdown of the central heating installation process, please read our guide, but in brief:

  1. Map out the central heating system, including the location of the boiler, radiators and all pipework
  2. Install the radiators
  3. Lay and install the pipework
  4. Install and test the boiler and fuel source (gas pipe, oil line etc)
  5. Fit the boilers controls and room thermostat
  6. Commission the boiler

How much does new central heating cost?

The cost of central heating will depend on various factors. These include the number of radiators, the size and type of the central heating boiler, and whether you want to move it. A like-for-like combi boiler swap will be cheaper than a combi-to-system conversion.

Gas and LPG boilers cost between £550 and £3,900 with installation adding £1,000 to £2,000 depending on complexity. Oil boilers cost from £2,600 to £3,900.

Radiators can cost between £150 and £800 depending on the size, style and design.

You can save money with a new boiler or central heating system. On average you can save up to £590 a year on your heating bills with a new highly-efficient boiler.

Get central heating fitted in three steps

1. Get an online quote

Use our intelligent online tool to determine your price by answering a few questions.

2. Quick chat

Speak to an expert to ensure everything has been taken into account in your quote and nothing has been missed.

3. Installation

An engineer will come to your home to install your central heating system and boiler.

Our best-selling boilers

Here are three of the best boilers we sell around the UK. You can see the best oil boilers or specifically, the best combi boilers and best LPG combi boilers in our guides.

Viessmann Vitodens 100-W - Central Heating
  • Combi, system & regular models
  • Size: 11kW to 35kW
  • Efficiency: 94%
  • Warranty: 12 Years
  • Stainless Steel Heat Exchanger
Vaillant ecoTEC Plus - Best Boilers UK
  • Combi & system types
  • Size: 12kW to 38kW
  • Efficiency: 92%
  • Warranty: 10 Years
  • Stainless Steel Heat Exchanger
Viessmann Vitodens 050-W Combi Boiler B0KA - Best boilers in the UK
  • Combi & system types
  • Size: 19kW to 35kW
  • Efficiency: 92%
  • Warranty: 10 Years
  • Stainless Steel Heat Exchanger
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