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Understanding your heating system

Getting the heating right in your home is important so it helps to understand how it works and what needs to be done. So, let’s explain the difference between various central heating systems. What type you have or choose depends on the kind of fuel available to you.

Central heating systems

Mains gas

If you’re connected to the national gas grid, then this is an option for you and is probably the most common central heating system in the UK. It’s also said to be the most instantaneous source of heat and hot water.

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)

If you’re not connected to the national gas grid, but would still like to use gas to heat your home, you can opt for LPG. The gas needs to be stored in a tank on your property, which can be bought or rented from your LPG supplier. You need to keep an eye on your levels though, so you’re not caught short while you wait on a fuel delivery.

Oil

Like LPG, this fuel is delivered to your home and needs to be stored in a tank (again, this can be bought or rented from your supplier).

Electric

Electric systems use storage heaters to store heat overnight (when electricity is cheaper if you’re on an economy tariff) and release it during the next day and night. The more heat it stores, the more it’ll cost and you’ll need to predict the weather the day before because any changes kick in the next day.

Biomass or other renewables

Wood (burning pellets or logs in a wood burning stove) and the sun (using solar panels) can be used to provide heat and hot water to your home. The upfront costs of these can be high, but the long-term savings can work out for the better.


Boilers

PIf you use gas or oil, you have a choice of three types of what are called ‘condensing’ boilers:

Combination (also known as combi)

If you’re not connected to the national gas grid, but would still like to use gas to heat your home, you can opt for LPG. The gas needs to be stored in a tank on your property, which can be bought or rented from your LPG supplier. You need to keep an eye on your levels though, so you’re not caught short while you wait on a fuel delivery.

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#WickesTips

If the heater doesn’t have a built-in timer, buy a time switch for your plug.

Heat only (also known as a conventional or regular boiler)

With a separate storage tank for cold water, these boilers can cope with the demands of a larger home. You can also fit an electrical immersion heater to the water cylinder as a backup, should your boiler break down. With a tank and hot water cylinder, these do take up more space but are usually located out of the way in the loft.

System Boiler

This works much like heat only boilers, except there’s no need for a separate tank in the loft and they can better deal with high-pressure systems. Also, with most of the mechanics built into the boiler, it can be easier (and quicker) to install.