Central heating vs electric heating: Pros and cons

When it comes to heating your home, there are several options to choose from. Central heating is a tried and tested method that’s used by most of the UK. Yet as time moves on, more and more people seem to be switching to modern methods like electric heating. And with energy bills forecasted to skyrocket this winter, having the right heating system is an increasingly pressing issue.

So, which is better?

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of electric heating and central heating.

What is central heating?

A central heating system uses a single source to distribute heat around all the spaces of a building. The source is usually a centrally located boiler and the heat it generates is distributed to radiators in each room via central heating pumps like these from RS.


  • Energy efficiency: Modern boilers are far more efficient than old ones, having a minimum threshold of 90% or above. This means almost all the energy gets turned into heat, minimising wasted energy and costs.
  • Long lasting: Modern central heating systems typically last between 20 and 30 years. Licensed technicians can check them annually and repair any faults, keeping them running effectively and safely over the long term.


  • High upfront costs: Although it costs less to heat an entire building with central heating, it comes with the significant initial costs of buying a boiler and paying for professional installation.
  • Safety hazards: Central heating can result in carbon monoxide leaks, which can put building occupants at risk. Regular checks are advisable, as well as the installation of carbon monoxide detectors on the premises. 

What is electric heating?

In contrast with central heating, electric heaters use mains electricity to provide warmth in a single room. Portable heaters generate heat by passing electricity through resistance components inside the heater.


  • Cost-effective: Electric heaters can be more cost-effective than central heating, especially if you only want to heat a few rooms in your home. There are also no installation costs, since electric heaters can simply be plugged in without being wired and no pipes need fitting underfloor as with central heating.
  • Smart features: Many modern electric heaters offer smart, user-centric features that help homeowners optimise their heating. Examples include programming features that let you choose the heating to come on at specific times and monitoring features that give you visibility of your energy usage.


  • Inefficient: If you need to heat an entire home or building, then electric heating could be less efficient than central heating. They use more energy and don’t provide continuous the heating you’d get from alternative methods.
  • Higher energy costs: Electricity tends to cost more than gas. So, if you try to use electric heating to heat too many rooms or use it to often, then it could end up costing more than it would with central heating.

Which is better?

Both central heating and electric heating have their pros and cons. The better option is the one that’s better suited to your particular situation. If you want an efficient way to heat an entire building over the next 30 years, then central heating could be just the ticket. Yet if you have a small upfront budget, only want to heat a few rooms in your home or are worried about carbon monoxide poisoning, then electric heating could be more suitable for you.


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