The best heating guide to buying a new boiler

How To Buy A New Boiler

Though it will never be as exciting or as sexy as buying a new car or landing the latest video games console before your best mate, buying a new boiler is arguably one of the most significant and important purchases that you will ever make.

There are many considerations to take into account before you go dipping your hand into your pocket to buy a new boiler; ranging from which one is best for your home, how much it will cost to install, if there are any grants or financial help available, as well as the location of the boiler and what kind of thermostatic controls you intend to use.

It can be pretty complicated, frustrating and time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re doing, so with this (hopefully) helpful guide to buying a new boiler, we at BestHeating hope to bring you everything you need to know and more about choosing the one that’s best for you.

Which Boiler Should You Buy?

blue flame on a stove

Though there are a couple of exceptions to the rule, pretty much all new and/or replacement boilers must now be high efficiency condensing boilers that help to reduce CO2 emissions by around 25% and can save you around £300 a year on your home heating.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “aren’t they really expensive?”

Well yes, they can be initially, but this is a big investment and you should be prepared to go for the best quality boiler available, albeit within your budget.

Anyway, although they have a slightly higher initial outlay than other boilers, embracing this new technology and accepting the cost of it will pay dividends in the end, as you will re-coup your money over the lifespan of your new boiler through lower heating bills.

Once you have accepted the cost, it’s time to decide which type of boiler will best suit your home and lifestyle – Regular (conventional), System or Combi?

This short video from British Gas explains the different types of boiler in a little more detail.

Now don’t worry, in many cases the kind of boiler you require will be determined by where you live, but it’s definitely a decision that should be made with the help of an expert.

REMEMBER: Unless you are a qualified professional installer, it is completely illegal to install a boiler yourself. Always call the experts before doing anything else!

Calling In The Professionals

Rather than just going out and buying a boiler or trawling the net to find one that fits your budget, we would recommend that you try and get three or four separate quotes for the job you want doing; some from big nationwide firms and some from local engineers in your area.

Getting lots of quotes serves many purposes. It will not only give you a good ‘ball-park’ figure of the price you should be paying for your new boiler, but also allow you to compare the professionalism and knowledge of each individual against the other; enabling you to make a more informed judgement about who is going to do the best job.

Be sure to keep in mind that nationwide firms, although likely to be more expensive than their local counterparts, will often offer a comprehensive after sales service and support package alongside the installation of your new boiler.

Alternatively, if you are in receipt of certain benefits, you could see if you are eligible for a free boiler via the governments ECO grant scheme.

a red pen checking a box on a checklist

Get Yourself Prepared

It is recommended that you prepare yourself thoroughly before an engineer arrives to inspect your home – by prepare I don’t mean wear your Sunday best, comb your hair or shave your legs/face – but by making sure that you are armed with all the answers to their inevitable torrent of questions about what you want to do.

He/she should ask you various and important questions about your current system and your lifestyle in order to determine which is likely to be the best central heating system for your home and to provide the correct specification of boiler.

Things to think about –

Where are you going to put it? – Due to the low temperature of the exhaust gas from the flue, unlike older designs, new condensing boilers produce a plume of steam when they are in operation.

This plume could prove to be an annoying nuisance for both yourself and your neighbours, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to consider the implications of siting the flue in the same place as your old one.

What and when do you use? – Just how busy and bustling is your household? For example, is there going to be a time when two showers are in operation at the same time and how well has your old boiler coped with these showering demands?

What do you see in your future? – Now you don’t have to dig out your crystal ball here, but can you envisage a time when you and your family may want to extend the house or invest in a loft conversion? It’s important to remember that Regular boilers do require loft space for feed and expansion tanks, whereas System and Combi boilers do not; definitely, something to bear in mind should you wish to go all ‘DIY SOS’ under the truss in the future.

What are you going to spend? – Know to the penny just how much you intend to spend and don’t be cajoled into spending more than you are comfortable with. In order to spread the cost of what can be an expensive job, it is also worth looking into any finance deals that may be on offer to you – and don’t forget those government grants!.

a stack of question marks on some paper on a blue background

Be Sure To Ask Questions!

The installation of a new boiler is a big and sometimes expensive job, so it’s only right that you ask some questions. There’s nothing to be afraid of is there? If you were buying a new car you would be chewing the ear of the salesperson off wanting to know what the upholstery was made of or if it comes with traction control and (if you’re a Jeremy Clarkson type) how much “POWWWWWEEEERRRR” it produces; the same should apply to your boiler.

Ask them –

Are they Gas Safe (for gas installations) or OFTEC (for oil) registered?

Can they provide you with local referrals?

Do they offer an after sales service?

Will they provide a full written quote that itemises all of the parts used and the work undertaken?

Be sure that the make and efficiency of the boiler are specified within the quote you receive and if they can’t answer these simple questions then it may be high time to send them packing and look elsewhere.

REMEMBER: Don’t be afraid of demanding the very best service you can get, after all, buying a boiler is a big deal and the ability of your engineer and their approach to safety could be the difference between life, death and facing huge costs further down the line.

a man working on a gas cdentral heating boiler

After Sales Service & Support

As important as the installation itself (if not more so) it is essential that you are aware of the after sales service and support that the installer is offering and even if they offer it at all.

It is all well and good being the best at specifying and installing new systems but you must make sure that you are using someone that is capable of repairing them should the need arise.

Rather surprisingly, not all installation specialists have the requisite knowledge to find faults or diagnose problems with these new-fangled hi-tech condensing boilers, so make sure to check the skills and credentials of the firm you intend on using; keeping in mind that it is probably best to use a firm that is qualified by the manufacturer to install the particular make of boiler that you intend on having installed.

You will find that the majority of the big national installation companies will offer ongoing insurance and service for your boiler and even some of your other home essentials.

British Gas for example offer a comprehensive scheme called HomeCare with all of their central heating and boiler installations and even cover the cost of repairing a system if it wasn’t installed by them; this is definitely something to consider before you take the plunge.

Here’s a really cool infographic from our mates at www.boilerguide.co.uk that outlines the types of boiler available and what to do if a breakdown occurs.

The Boiler Breakdown Infographic from www.boilerguide.co.uk

Other Stuff To Think About

Have a think about Solar Heating.

Though you may think that it could be too expensive for you, modern solar technology might be more affordable than you think.

Many boiler manufacturers (if not most of them) tend to make solar-powered systems that work seamlessly with their own boilers and control units, so it’s definitely something to consider.

As well as adding considerable value to your property, up to a third of your hot water can be gained through solar thermal and combining it with a new boiler installation can be a whole lot cheaper than looking to add it further down the line.

It is important to keep in mind that there are also government grants available for solar installations and solar systems only attract 5% VAT, so be sure to discuss the possibility of going down the solar route with your engineer.

There are many things to think about when it comes to installing a new boiler, but one of the most important things to remember is to assess the energy efficiency of your home alongside your new installation.

Cavity Wall and Loft Insulation are relatively low cost and affordable ways to further reduce the cost of heating your home and both will help to ensure your brand new boiler is working to its maximum efficiency.

a close up image of solar panels

And Finally…

Once you have got your hands on a few quotes, go through them all with a fine-toothed comb. Check that each of them offers comparable makes and models of boilers for the price and ensures that the outputs and efficiencies of all the boilers are similarly matched. If not, ask why.

It may not be as sexy as a new car and it definitely isn’t as cool as getting your mitts on a new console, but buying a new boiler needn’t be a difficult and troublesome task. With the right approach and this BestHeating know-how, you should be well on your way to basking in the warm and efficient glow brought to you by your lovely new boiler; you just need a shiny new designer radiator or two to go with it now (sorry, I couldn’t resist).