Eco Happy (Solar Expert)

Published February 23, 2024

Ever found yourself enjoying a hot shower when all of a sudden the water runs cold? I bet it’s in times like these that you’ve considered gutting out your central heating and upgrading the system yourself, huh? Or perhaps you’re just curious how much installing central heating systems will cost.

I don’t need to tell you how important it is to have a reliable heating system at home – you pretty much figured that one out on your own when standing in a cold shower.

But today’s your lucky day, as this article from Eco Happy is your go-to guide regarding installation costs! We’ll cover what central heating factors to consider, such as house size and lifestyle needs, types of central heating boilers available and other tips and tricks to make this as smooth – and warm! – of a journey for you.

We’ll even throw in UK-government-backed heating schemes (hint: ECO4) that you may be interested in taking advantage of, just because! So sit back, relax and let’s unravel the mysteries of central heating expenses together.

Central Heating Installation Cost

Having a new central heating system installed is not to be taken lightly. The costs involved may hit some harder than an unexpected cold shower. But don’t let this put you off, once you have weighed up your options and have budgeted correctly – the cost to install central heating is a worthwhile and long-term investment – and you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!

In saying that, installation costs vary depending on the size of your home and the number of radiators you have. Smaller home heating systems are cheaper and quicker to install when compared to larger properties. Let’s take a quick look at this central heating installation cost comparison below:

Specific cost scenarios: House size

Bungalow

  • If your one-bed bungalow has around 5 radiators, installing central heating will cost around £2,000 – £2,600.
  • If you live in a two-bed bungalow with six radiators, installation costs are between £2,700 – £3,300.

Small terraced house

  • If your home has 6 – 9 radiators with a 28 kW boiler, installing a new central heating system will cost between £3,300 – £4,000.

Semi-detached house

  • If your semi-detached home has 10 – 12 radiators with a 33 kW boiler, installing a new central heating system will cost between £3,600 – £4,500.

Detached house

  • If you have a detached house with 12 – 15 radiators with a 33 kW boiler, new central heating installation costs will range between £4,500 and £5,000.

What do heating professionals charge to install central heating?

Heating engineers usually charge around £150 – £200 per hour for central heating installations.

Specific cost scenarios: Fuel type

Different fuel types, like gas central heating or electric heating systems, have different price tags attached to them.

Oil heating systems

This central heating system costs around £6,100 to install.

Electric heating systems

Electric systems are cheaper than oil systems and cost about £3,790 to install.

Gas heating systems

Gas central heating installation costs are roughly £5,250 to install.

Note: These prices are an estimated average, based on average 3-bed homes. Always allow more budget when it comes to installing central heating as pricing may vary. Price points may differ depending on the type of system, boiler brand and labour costs.

Factors Impacting Central Heating Installation Costs

What adds to new central heating system costs?

Many factors come into play when installing central heating. Things like boiler types, how many radiators you have, whether you opt for wireless or traditional controls, and ease of installation are a couple of examples.

Boiler type

There are 3 main boiler types available in the UK and the type of boiler you use impacts the final price. Here’s a brief rundown of these different boiler types:

  1. Combi boilers:
    • A combi boiler is an energy-efficient boiler and central heating system in one compact unit.
    • They’re ideal for small to medium-sized homes with 1 to 2 bathrooms (i.e. average hot water demands).
    • 18 – 35 kW combi boilers cost around £1,000 – £4,500 (with installation) – depending on make and model.
  2. System boilers:
    • A system boiler is a hybrid between a combi boiler and a regular boiler, as it requires a hot water cylinder but no storage tank.
    • These central heating systems work well in homes with multiple bathrooms (i.e. higher hot water demands); simultaneously providing hot water to multiple taps without compromising water pressure.
    • 15 – 65 kW system boilers cost around £1,000 – £4,000 (with installation) – depending on make and model.
  3. Conventional boilers – also known as heat-only or regular boilers:
    • Regular boilers are the bulkiest boilers on our list as they need space for a hot water cylinder and cold water storage tank (usually in the loft).
    • These central heating systems are best for bigger properties with 3 to 4 bathrooms.
    • A regular boiler is compatible with older radiator systems or in areas where water pressure is low.
    • 12 – 30 kW conventional boilers cost around £900 – £4,000 (with installation) – depending on make and model.

Additionally, you’ll likely spend about £790 for 100 m2 of pipework for small homes and around £1,650 for 150 m2 of pipework for medium-sized homes. Usually, these prices are factored into labour and material costs on your central heating installation quote.

Fuel types

There are 4 main fuel types to consider when installing a new central heating system:

  1. Natural gas: 85% of UK homes use a natural gas central heating system. It is the cheapest fuel to run, at around 10p per kWh. However, you’ll only reap the benefits of the fuel type if you’re connected to the gas grid.
  2. Oil: If your area doesn’t have a reliable gas supply, then an oil central heating system would be best to use. Oil is charged at roughly 12p per kWh.
  3. Electricity: An electric boiler releases 0% carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, making it more environmentally friendly when compared to natural gas or oil fuel types (which release ±7% CO2 emissions). These systems are more expensive to run, charged at about 34p per kWh. However, they are compatible with green energy solutions like solar power to reduce running costs.
  4. Biomass: A biomass heating system is carbon neutral as it burns wood to generate heat at around 7p per kWh. These systems are much bigger and take up quite a lot of space in your home – so striking the right balance between fuel efficiency and space is key.

Radiator selection

  • The type of radiator you choose can impact installation costs. Factors like materials, size and energy efficiency of radiators affect the price.
  • Traditional steel/cast iron panel radiators are more budget-friendly, while newer radiators like aluminium are more expensive.
  • Here’s a rough estimate of radiator costs:
    • Single panel = £95 – £300
    • Double panel = £115 – £550
    • Horizontal = £375 – £725
    • Vertical = £375 – £750
    • Column = £260 – £850
    • Heated towel = £111 – £750

Side note: Expect to pay around £250+ for radiator pipework materials and installation.

Installation complexities

Labour costs and installation complexities are another factor to consider. Quicker, more straightforward installations will be cheaper compared to complicated setups. Installation hurdles may include:

  • Layout of your property
  • Accessibility to pipework
  • Need for additional adjustments or modifications
  • The existing heating system you have

Regional labour cost differences

  • The location of your property plays its part too. Labour costs can vary considerably across different regions in the UK.
  • Market demands, local municipal regulations, and living costs also need to be considered.
  • For instance, higher living costs in urban areas (e.g. cities like London or Bristol) might have higher labour charges when compared to rural, outer-lying areas (e.g. Somerset).

Understanding these factors helps you gauge the estimated costs and plan for central heating installation accordingly.

Top tip: Budget is another important factor to take into account.

Choosing The Right Boiler For Your Home

We now know the types of boilers available but how do you know which one is best suited to your home?

Some might think opting for the most expensive – or biggest – boiler is the answer to this question, but that’s not always the case.

While it’s recommended to choose high-quality, reliable boiler brands; understanding your heating needs is key. The right choice ensures efficient heating and hot water supply, as opting for a boiler that is too big can result in wasted energy and increased energy bills. Whereas, choosing a boiler system that’s too small won’t be able to keep up with your heating demands.

A few simple questions to ask yourself include:

  • How big is your house?
  • What type of boiler do you currently have?
  • How many radiators do you have?
  • How many people live in your home?
  • What are your lifestyle routines like? (e.g. bathing vs showering)

Tips for choosing the best boiler for your home

Choosing the best boiler for your home means knowing what type of boiler you need, the fuel type that works best for your house, and the boiler size requirement.

What type of boiler do I need?

  • Each boiler type caters to different household needs and structures:
    • Combi boilers are known for their compact size. They provide on-demand hot water directly from the boiler itself without the need for additional tanks. They are a popular choice for smaller properties with 1 bathroom.
    • System boilers require more space in your home due to their separate hot water cylinder. They provide a constant supply of hot water to multiple taps simultaneously and are ideal for higher-heating-demand homes (2 -3 bathrooms).
    • A regular boiler is a more traditional central heating system, requiring both a hot water cylinder and a storage tank. They’re able to meet the needs of high-demand homes but are the biggest boiler systems on the market.

What fuel type do I need?

  • Gas, oil and electricity are the most common fuel types for UK homes.
    • Gas: The most common, cost-effective fuel for boilers due to its widespread availability in urban areas. A gas heating system is generally more affordable to run compared to other fuel types but is not as eco-friendly.
    • Oil: Oil central heating is suitable for homes NOT connected to the gas grid. They require more maintenance when compared to gas central heating and are more costly to run.
    • Electricity: An electric boiler is the most eco-friendly boiler to run but has the highest running cost. You can reduce your energy bills when connecting your system to solar power. Check out our guide on the best electric combi boilers if you’re in the market for one.

What size boiler do I need?

Kilowatt (kW) output is what you need to look for in this instance. This shows the amount of power (i.e. fuel) the boiler uses to generate heating and hot water. Most UK homes have boilers between 24 – 42 kW. Here’s an estimation:

  • 2-bed homes = 9 kW boiler system
  • 3-bed homes = 16 kW boiler system
  • 4-bed homes = 20 kW boiler system
  • 5-bed homes = 28+ kW boiler system

Quick formula*: Number of radiators x 1.5 = kW output needed. For example, if you have 10 radiators, you’ll need a 15 kW boiler system [10 x 1.5 = 15].

*Please note these are only guidelines for boiler sizes.

Alternatively, here’s our what size boiler do I need calculator.

What does “energy efficiency” mean?

This shows how effectively your boiler and heating system converts fuel (e.g. electricity or gas) to power up the appliance. Usually represented as an Environmental Permit Classification “EPC” rating:

  • A = 90+% – best
  • B = 86 – 90%
  • C = 82% – 86%
  • D = 78% – 82%
  • E = 74% – 78%
  • F = 70 – 74%
  • G = Below 70% – worst

Reducing Central Heating Expenses

Unlock lesser-known secrets straight from the pros that can transform the way you manage your heating expenses.

Quality of installation

  • Installing central heating is best done by Gas Safe professionals.
  • Using heating experts minimises botched installations, saving you money in the long run.
  • Poor central heating installation may result in system inefficiencies, wasted energy and increased energy charges.

Running costs

  • Prioritise energy-efficient boilers with an “A” EPC rating. These boilers use less fuel to generate heat and release less CO2 emissions.
  • Consider smart technology, like thermostatic radiator valves and controls to curb unnecessary energy usage.
  • Swap out your daily bath for a quick 2-minute shower instead. Not only will you save on your heating bills but you’ll save water too!
  • Turn temperatures down by 1 or 2 degrees and opt to wear socks or jumpers indoors instead. This small adjustment can have a drastic impact on your monthly running costs.
  • Consider using central heating inhibitors to keep your system corrosion and sludge-free.
  • Regularly service your central heating systems and boiler, at least once a year, to ensure they remain in top-notch condition.

Seasonal timing for heating installations

  • Strategically schedule central heating installations during the off-season or warmer months (i.e. March to August).
  • It may be cheaper to install central heating during these times as installers tend to offer more competitive rates during low-demand months.

Localised heating solutions

  • Explore zone heating or localised solutions, especially for larger properties.
  • Dividing your home into ‘zones’, with separate heating controls, allows you to monitor and set temperature per individual room(s).
  • This tactic significantly cuts energy consumption in unoccupied areas and lowers heating bills.

Boiler modulation technology

  • Modulating boilers adjust their power output (kW) based on the actual demand for heat.
  • This feature is often overlooked but ensures your boiler operates at optimal efficiency levels, saving energy and reducing running costs over time.

UK government grants and incentives

  • Look into UK government-backed heating schemes, such as ECO4 and Warmer Homes Scotland Grant.
  • If your household qualifies for these funding incentives, you may be eligible for a free heating and/or boiler upgrade scheme.
  • These programs can significantly offset your initial central heating installation investment.

For more information, read Eco Happy’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme and 2024 Grants article, next!

DIY maintenance tips

  • Learn simple yet impactful maintenance tips – our Comprehensive Boiler Check Guide: DIY Tips and Professional Insights is a must-read!
  • Tasks like bleeding radiators and pressure level checks all contribute to the efficiency of your boiler and heating systems.

Final Thoughts On Central Heating Installations

The importance of professional central heating installation cannot be overstated. Opting for expert installation ensures not only seamless system operation but also minimises the risk of system failure and inefficiencies.

If you’re looking to have central heating installed, gather quotes from various installers before making your final decision. Our comprehensive Top 10 Boiler Brands article offers insights into the most trusted and efficient boiler options available in the UK market.

Eco Happy’s qualified team prioritises excellence and we’re more than happy to assist you in figuring out your central heating installation cost. Our team ensures meticulous installation and offers competitive, bespoke quotes that align with the specifics of your home.

FAQs

Does central heating add value to a house?

Yes, central heating significantly adds value to your property. Homes equipped with well-functioning central heating systems tend to attract more potential buyers. These properties are usually priced higher in the real estate market as they are more energy-efficient.

Is central heating the cheapest way to heat a home?

It depends. While central heating is generally considered one of the more cost-effective ways to heat a home; the term “cheapest” depends on a few factors such as:

  • Energy source (a.k.a fuel type): Gas central heating tends to be more cost-effective than oil or electricity due to its price – 10p/kWh. However, its central heating installation cost is about £5,250 for an average 3-bed house whereas an electric installation cost is £3,790.
  • Efficiency of system: New boiler models are designed to be more energy efficient; using less fuel to generate more heat. Most modern boilers (and central heating systems) have an energy efficiency rating of 90%.
  • Housing insulation: Poorly insulated homes will not retain heat as well as properly insulated homes. This means central heating systems will work harder (i.e. use more fuel) to generate and maintain heat, resulting in higher energy bills.
  • Climate: In areas with milder climates, alternatives like heat pumps might be more cost-effective heating solutions.

How much is a full central heating system in the UK?

The average central heating cost, for an average 3-bed home in the UK, is between £3,000 and £6,500. This price usually includes the boiler, radiators, pipework and installation fees. Pricing can vary depending on the type of boiler you choose (e.g. system boiler vs combi boiler), installation complexities and size of your property.

Conclusion

As we end this central heating installation cost article, it’s clear to see that the price to install central heating varies based on different determining factors. House size, the number of radiators in your home, and your lifestyle patterns all need to be considered before having central heating installed.

While the cost to install central heating may seem hefty at first, you cannot beat its heating reliability and long-term investment. Not only will having a new boiler and heating system increase the value of your property but will also ensure warmth and comfort for you and your family for years to come.

Whether you opt for a combi, regular or gas boiler, our comprehensive guide has given you valuable insights into your “cost to install” quest. Consider reaching out to heating engineers to be 100% sure you’ve chosen the best central heating system for your home.

So what are you waiting for? Install central heating and chat with the Eco Happy team today!

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