Heating for tenants: Gas or electric?

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    Heating for tenants: Gas or electric?

    Hi all!

    Long time reader of this forum, but now I've started venturing into the world of landlording, I thought I best say hello! I've just bought my first BTL flat - a 2 bedroom flat - and am looking to let it out in a few months after some renovations.

    Part of this is replacing the old E7 electric storage heaters with a modern central heating system. I always assumed I would install a Gas-fired one, run some pipes around and plop some radiators down. However, the installation is not easy and, after some quotes, I'm looking at £4000-5000 to get this set up. Ok, I'm not that surprised and did budget for a large expenditure here, but it made me wonder if there's a better way.

    Since tenants would pay their own energy bills, the lower cost of running gas heating would not benefit me much as a landlord. In fact quite the opposite: the gas would require annual checks and is liable to breakdown (I've read many stories on this forum about heating-related disputes that ensue!). By contrast, an electric heating system would be much cheaper to install and operate. This assume that tenants don't see the electric system as undesirable and that the potential rental income is not reduced substantially by having electric heating - which might be a bad assumption.

    Has anyone any experience on this choice? Anyone on either electric or gas and wished they were on the other? Do (professional) tenants pay more for a gas system? Are there other issues I've overlooked?

    Note I'm not asking about the running expense of each - I know gas bills will be less than electric. I'm wondering which is best for a landlord. That said, if electric I would install something modern and elegant (and my personal feeling is that gas prices will rise faster than electric - but that's a different debate )

    Thanks!

    #2
    Welcome Alex.

    Electric every time for me. DON'T chuck out the storage heaters. With a little TLC they last for decades.

    I know that these can be poor for heating on a cold night, so mine are on a tariff from Southern Electric called Flexiheat. This gives a two hour boost in the afternoon.

    With regards desirability, I ask maybe £50 a month less than similar places with central heating. That more than compensates the tenant for the electricity.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks JK0! Just the kind of advice I was looking for The storage heaters - I'll think about keeping them as they do work (and work well; in the current cold weather it's still warm in the evenings despite being set at 60% odd - they can handle the heat, as it were). But they're ugly - so in addition to TLC they need a beauty makeover. But that could be done. Looking on the SSE website, I see their E7 night price is 7p/kWh, while gas (assuming 90% efficiency of the system) would be 5p/kWh; not a huge difference in the annual costs as long as daytime energy isn't used for heating! However... convincing tenants of this - might be tricky.

      You mention Southern Electric, which happens to be my local supplier too - they are introducing a new system they call Quantum. It's basically a modern storage heater. Have you seen/considered this before?

      Comment


        #4
        Remember that gas installation will require an annual GSC at your expense - not the end of the world cost wise, but another hassle, particularly if tenants are a pain about access. Radiators can also leak (could cause problems for other flats at well as your own), need bleeding, valves can fail etc, and can enourage tenants to dry washing hanging over them possibly leading to condensation issues.

        If the existing storage heaters are old, they may require a good service - take off covers, hoover out the crap of a decade of use, check vents and flaps all work OK. The older style ones are also pretty hideous to look at - you can get modern slightly more presentable ones if you want to upgrade them all.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by alexandicity View Post
          Thanks JK0! Just the kind of advice I was looking for The storage heaters - I'll think about keeping them as they do work (and work well; in the current cold weather it's still warm in the evenings despite being set at 60% odd - they can handle the heat, as it were). But they're ugly - so in addition to TLC they need a beauty makeover. But that could be done. Looking on the SSE website, I see their E7 night price is 7p/kWh, while gas (assuming 90% efficiency of the system) would be 5p/kWh; not a huge difference in the annual costs as long as daytime energy isn't used for heating! However... convincing tenants of this - might be tricky.

          You mention Southern Electric, which happens to be my local supplier too - they are introducing a new system they call Quantum. It's basically a modern storage heater. Have you seen/considered this before?
          I just googled it. It looks interesting, but very high tech. My (Turkish) tenants struggled to understand the 4 zone controller for their Duoheat system. I always have to study the instructions for it: http://www.dimplex.co.uk/assets/kb/o...ns_Issue_3.pdf

          What are they asking to install a Quantum system? Is paying out all that money going to increase the rent for your flat by much?

          Also, I wouldn't want to try to repair it. You would probably have to call Southern Electric in to do so. At least I can replace any parts of a storage heater myself.

          edit: You can make storage heaters less obtrusive by painting the wall the same colour as the heater. Works for me.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by JK0 View Post
            What are they asking to install a Quantum system? Is paying out all that money going to increase the rent for your flat by much?

            Also, I wouldn't want to try to repair it. You would probably have to call Southern Electric in to do so. At least I can replace any parts of a storage heater myself.
            Good points. I have a Southern guy coming around to pitch it to me. I will ask about repairs and report back here. Still, looks potentially promising. One serious downside is the value-loss of the flat if I don't go GCH; although I should probably not speculate on such things as I have no plans to sell anytime soon! Perhaps in ten years, if the government gets their way, we'll all be falling over each other for electric heating

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by JK0 View Post
              With regards desirability, I ask maybe £50 a month less than similar places with central heating. That more than compensates the tenant for the electricity.
              So that's £600 a year rent you're losing for having an electric system - wouldn't take very long for that cash to outweigh the initial extra installation cost etc

              I hear what people are saying about the pros of electric; but there's little doubt that in general tenants prefer gas which hopefully makes the property more lettable, and less likely that good tenants will decide to move on because they perceive they could save a lot of money in energy costs by living elsewhere.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                So that's £600 a year rent you're losing for having an electric system - wouldn't take very long for that cash to outweigh the initial extra installation cost etc
                Yeah, I know. But that reduction makes it one of Rightmove's cheapest properties, so makes it desirable for another reason.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I'd look at insulating the property properly then start to worry about type of heating system.

                  Both have their advatanges and disadvantages.
                  There is always scope for misinterpretation.

                  If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

                  Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    My personal preference is gas. I dislike storage heaters. I will always rent somewhere with gas over electric storage heaters.

                    I know a lot of you don't think that Ts look at the EPC but I do running costs are important to my affordability tests before taking a property.
                    I'm a good tenant with great landlords
                    I'm also a living, breathing, fully cooked female.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Boilers costly to maintain. Gas checks needed.
                      Storage heaters simple & reliable & no gas checks. 'Economy 7' not much good though as most of the heat from the night charge up is lost by the time people get in from work. Then I discovered 'Economy 10'.
                      It's brilliant. 5 hours off peak at night, 3 in afternoon & 2 hrs in evening. So no cold evenings where the tenants have to switch on expensive ordinary heaters.
                      Had to haggle a bit to get Southern Electricity to fit the economy 10 meter though. They said it was for people with electric boilers & wouldn't work with storage heaters. They are wrong. It's great. They probably just don't have that much off peak energy to go round in afternoon & evening so they try to discourage people switching to 'Economy 10'

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Brb View Post
                        I know a lot of you don't think that Ts look at the EPC but I do - running costs are important to my affordability tests before taking a property.
                        It's a sign of intelligence, in fact.
                        'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Right, so I had the guy come around and look at my setup. He cites a whopping £5200 to put in 5 on the Quantum Heating radiators, and that's not including a the hot water heater. Given that's a good 50% more than the equivalent gas-fired system, that's pretty much a write-off. Warranty is 2 years on the devices. Apparently they've not got any of the hot water heaters ready yet (he was saying they'd come on the market in April). So it's a matter of re-using the existing storage heaters or looking at a slightly less expensive modernisation. But I'm thinking more that gas is the way forward if this is a representative cost :S

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Fair enough Alex. Just to warn you though, I am guessing you have read the thread about the guy who wants to put in a combi-boiler, but the gas man says his pipe isn't large enough:

                            http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums...k-unreasonable

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