While natural gas is often the most affordable, convenient method of heating a property for the majority of homeowners in the UK, there are still many regions where this is impossible. The majority of cities and towns will have a ready supply of natural gas, or one that can be easily connected to but there are plenty of areas that either lie just outside the boundaries of urban areas or are located somewhere even more remote. In these cases, homeowners will often choose between an oil boiler or a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) boiler.
Both oil and LPG can be easily transported and stored, making them excellent choices for remote locations, whether they're residences or holiday cabins, caravans or canal boats. Oil has long been the more popular choice for homes, owing to its ready availability, but LPG has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. With an increasing emphasis on environmental awareness when it comes to home heating, it's important to consider which fuel source is more affordable and the most suitable for your location.
LPG and oil are both efficient fuel sources for your central heating system. They each function in the same way; fuel supplies a flame in your boiler which is used to heat water, which is then circulated throughout your heating system to supply radiators as well as providing your hot water. Heating oil and LPG can both be delivered to your home by a truck, with plenty of companies dedicated to this purpose, with LPG delivered in cans and oil stored in a tank. How large this tank will need to be depends on the size of your property and general heating requirements. If your property is difficult to reach, it might be worth having a larger tank installed in order to minimise the number of trips your supplier needs to make.
LPG is one of the more environmentally friendly fossil fuels, creating a comparatively low amount of carbon emissions. While heating oil produces slightly more CO2, it still produces considerably less pollution than many of the other main heating fuels. A major benefit of LPG is that it can also be used to supply fuel to an oven or hob, if you use a traditional gas model, whereas oil will only fuel your boiler itself.
For many smaller properties, heating oil is a financially viable way of warming your home. It's excellent for cottages, whether they're residences or holiday destinations. The larger your home, the more significant the financial impact of using oil becomes. As society is encouraged to phase out fossil fuels and oil sources become scarcer, the cost of supplying your home with oil becomes greater. This unpredictability also means that the price of LPG is more stable than that of heating oil. Even so, both oil and LPG are significantly cheaper than resorting to solid fuels such as coal or wood.
For a time, LPG was considered more efficient than oil by some distance. Modern condensing oil boilers greatly reduce this difference by recycling some of the heat energy that would have previously been wasted. Even so, LPG remains a cleaner alternative to oil in terms of system maintenance and servicing thanks to creating fewer byproducts such as soot. One major benefit of LPG compared to oil, particularly in more remote locations, is that it's often easier to find a registered gas engineer than an oil engineer, due to the popularity of gas across the UK.
If you're installing oil or LPG for the first time, you'll have some unavoidable startup costs. Chief among these will be the boiler itself, which will usually cost somewhere in the region of £1500 to £2000, about the same as a natural gas boiler. In addition, you'll need a storage tank for your oil, which can usually be purchased from your supplier or independently. A supplier will often subsidise the cost of a tank and install it, though this might have the disadvantage of your tank being owned by the supplier and loaned to you for the duration of your contract. This usually won't create a problem but can raise issues if you want to change your supplier later. This is detrimental if you're looking to find the newest, best deals possible.
There are more environmentally friendly, economical alternatives to oil and LPG, though these will usually incur higher costs in the short term. Solar panels or small wind turbines are are an increasingly affordable option for homeowners and will likely be subsidised if you decide to install them. By combining this free electricity with electrical radiators and other appliances throughout your home, you can save a great deal of money compared to using oil or LPG. If you already have a full central heating system in place, you might not want to spend the extra money but it's worth considering if you're either building a new property or already replacing your existing system.
In any case, LPG and oil based systems are both considerably more efficient than they have been previously and continue to be excellent choices while the cost of greener options is gradually reduced in coming years. These older methods of heating your home and water supply have endured with good reason and both provide reliable, effective heat production throughout your property.