Oil Fired Central Heating – Energy Efficiency

Many rural homes throughout the UK rely on oil fired central heating as the lack of mains infrastructure leaves them with little choice.  However, with constant rises in the price of heating oil, many people are increasingly concerned about the energy efficiency and environmental impact of this type of heating system.  So just how efficient are these heating systems and what are the alternatives?


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Clubbing Down the Costs

Rising fuel prices affect most households in Britain, but those who rely on domestic heating oil find themselves in an unenviable position.  Kerosene, the most common oil in use in the domestic market, is subject to the same price rises as the other major heating fuels in the UK and in addition many suppliers do not offer facilities to spread the cost.  Although spreading payments is becoming more common, most customers will still pay a lump sum for their fuel.  One simple way to cut the cost, which is becoming increasingly popular, is to join (or establish) a fuel club; this allows a group of friends, neighbours or a wider community to buy fuel in bulk and take advantage of the bulk purchase discount.  For more information on fuel clubs in your area contact your local authority or local branch of Citizens Advice Bureau.

Best Boilers?

Modern oil-fired boilers should feature the same controls as a standard gas boiler.  New boilers should operate on similar energy efficiency levels and their manufacturers suggest that they can achieve levels of 97 per cent efficiency.  When installing, or updating, an oil fired central heating system it pays to invest in the most efficient boiler.  This will cut your fuel costs in the long run and, in addition, a modern system should include other energy saving measures.  These include room thermostats, thermostatic valves on radiators and a timer with programmable heating and hot water settings.  On-demand hot water heating has long been a feature of domestic gas boilers and new oil fired systems have been developed that provide the same functionality.  In terms of efficiency this offers significant advantages, removing the need to heat a hot water tank and therefore saving considerable amounts of energy and, of course, money.

Environmental Impacts

Oil is often considered to be less environmentally friendly than gas.  However, for homes where gas is not available the environmental impact is not a primary consideration.  Most modern suppliers of heating oil now supply kerosene, which is more environmentally friendly than traditional oils.  In addition the latest, most efficient oil fired boilers are designed to reduce emissions and they compete well with modern equivalents in the gas fired market.  Regular servicing by a qualified professional will ensure that the boiler continues to operate at a highly efficient level and thereby ensure that it remains as environmentally friendly as possible.

Dining Chairs or Bio-Mass?

Apart from starting on the dining chairs, if you run out of oil and happen to be snowed in, there are some developments that may see significant changes for properties reliant on heating oil.  A number of suppliers are now looking at offering a bio-fuel alternative produced from vegetable oil.  As yet this alternative is not widely available and you’ll need to check that your system is suitable and that using bio-fuel will not invalidate the warranty on your boiler.  Alternative green technologies include bio-mass boilers and heat pump systems; in both cases a substantial investment is required although some government grants are currently available under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.  In the coming years it’s likely that bio-fuel, bio-mass and heat pump systems will become more common as consumer demand grows and oil supply companies respond to changes in the market.  However, in the meantime kerosene fuelled systems using the latest technology remain the most efficient option for many homes.  By installing modern energy efficiency measures and the most up-to-date boiler, consumers can take control of their heating costs and help to reduce emissions.

With many homes in rural Britain relying on kerosene to provide central heating and hot water, the rising cost of fuel is a major concern.  However, modern oil fired boilers are now highly energy efficient and, ensuring the right controls are in place, can help to reduce the cost of heating your home.

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