Beat the cold snap, but don’t get a rip-off boiler
As the temperature drops and homeowners start to fire up the central heating, many will find that their boiler has given up the ghost. Though boilers are crucial in any home, they are not something most people think much about. Yet in an average year around 1.2million households will replace a boiler, according to Hometree, an installer.
Modern boilers are much more efficient than their older counterparts, so the savings on energy bills can be huge, but so can the costs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average three-bedroom house could save £230 a year with a new boiler, but installing one typically costs £2,300.
How much will it cost?
The upfront cost of a boiler can vary dramatically. A mystery shopping exercise conducted by Hometree that looked at the cost of a standard boiler made by Worcester Bosch or Vaillant, two of the leading manufacturers, found prices ranging from £1,800 to £3,323.
London’s Pimlico Plumbers was the most expensive, according to the research, while a south London firm, Garvey Plumbing & Heating, was the cheapest. British Gas, the market leader, had an average cost of £3,111, although the company itself said the figure was less than £3,000.
The cost also depends on the model you choose. Simon Phelan of Hometree said: “Worcester Bosch and Vaillant are likely to be more expensive than others, but they are the BMW and Mercedes of the boiler game. Ultimately, you are buying this to last 12 or 13 years.”
How long will I have to wait?
A frustrating part of buying a new boiler can be waiting for the installation. British Gas and some of its traditional rivals still operate on a faceto-face basis, meaning a salesman will visit for an inspection before another wait for the installation.
A growing number of firms do the initial assessment online, shortening the overall wait. The mystery shopping exercise found the longest average wait to be 27 days with British Gas – 16 for a visit and a further 11 for the installation – while the shortest was two days with online retailer Soto. British Gas said its wait was more likely to be 15 days.
There are other online retailers, not included in the research, that will provide an installation more quickly. For example, Boxt guarantees a nextday service.
Do I need insurance?
The cost of insurance can be high. Initial quotes for “boiler-only cover” range from £4.90 a month with EDF Energy, for a policy with an excess and limited call-outs, to £21.50 a month with Homeserve for a policy with no excess, unlimited call-outs, an annual service and other perks.
Cover for an entire central heating system can cost as much as £42 a month – a hefty £500 a year.
But Mr Phelan said customers who bought a new boiler should consider whether they needed separate insurance at all.
“When we install, we offer a oneyear workmanship warranty,” he said. “Many manufacturers also offer warranties for up to 10 years now.”
Those who do forgo insurance need to be aware that different manufacturers will offer warranties of varying lengths for different models. There could also be hidden terms and exclusions.
Vaillant’s standard warranty, for example, does not cover the boiler’s clock timer or the flue seals after the first year. Ferroli, the Italian manufacturer, does not offer standard call-outs on bank holidays or weekends, whereas an insurance policy would typically include emergency call-outs within 24 hours.
Nick Mountfield of Corgi Homeheat, a boiler provider, said: “A warranty will cover faults, so if a part fails you’re covered. But insurance policies will cover more than just a manufacturer’s defect. It gives you broader peace of mind: if something goes wrong, you’re protected.”
Should I borrow to buy?
Consumers should also be careful not to pay over the odds if they buy a boiler on finance. Hometree said the rate on a standard finance deal offered by several makers and installers was 9.9pc. Many firms offer an interestfree period on finance deals and it could also be worth looking at the cost of a commercial loan.
No joke: unlike West Bromwich Albion’s mascot, boilers are a serious business