LPG versus Oil Heating

LPG versus Oil Heating

LPG: A better alternative to oil for heating when your tank or boiler need replacing – Oh, and it can put satellites into space as well!

Image Source: Calor

If your ideal home is somewhere rural there are still parts of the country where your choices for heating your home and for cooking are restricted.

Most of us take it for granted that our energy supplies come into our homes via some kind of main network, so we can choose from gas or electricity.

But there are still parts of the UK where the energy suppliers argue that installing the pipework infrastructure is not economic and those communities are left with the choice of using oil or liquified gas (LPG).

This map shows communities that are off the mains gas grid.

At one time people living in these areas had little option but to use oil-fired heating supplied via an oil tank situated somewhere in the grounds of their property. But oil is a commodity traded on the world markets and the price can go up or down dramatically, so when it comes time for a tank refill there is no guarantee of how much it will cost compared with the last time.

What happens when the time comes for the oil tank to be replaced?

A combination of updated safety and planning regulations can make this a heavy burden. Unlike your old, and now perhaps rusting and leaky, metal tank, perhaps perched on bricks, new safety regulations specify a plastic tank (usually double skinned or Bunded) installed on a proper base. Under building regulations for England and Wales, if the oil storage tank’s capacity is: Over 2500 litres – it must have secondary containment (bunding). Up to 2500 litres – it may need bunding depending on the outcome of an individual site pollution risk assessment.

That can cost in the region of £2,500.

Perhaps you’ve just bought your long dreamed-of rural cottage and it is in a listed building or AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and before you move in you need to sort out a more modern heating supply?

Enter, the planners!

Understandably planners are all about protecting beautiful buildings, their settings and locations, so you will need planning permission to have a tank installed in the grounds. There may not be a sufficiently well-hidden place in the grounds for an oil tank, and it may be difficult to get planning consent.

Even if you get past these hurdles there are a couple of other drawbacks to using oil.

Firstly, you can only use it for a heating and hot water system.  You cannot use it for cooking.

Secondly, and more crucial, is that the contents of oil tanks are extremely attractive to thieves, not only because it is easier to steal from an isolated location but also because of the re-sale value. The advent of plastic tanks also makes theft easier in that even if you put locks on the tank it is not a great problem to drill a hole in them – leaving you with no oil and a leaky tank in need of repair or replacement.

If you are concerned about the environment and climate change, oil is high in carbon emissions.

Thankfully, there is a better alternative: LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas), the lower carbon, cleaner alternative to oil.

You still have a tank and it will still need to be refilled but LPG cannot be stolen, you can use it to fuel cooking appliances or a gas fire as well as central heating, and, if planning consent is an issue, it is possible to install the tank underground, so that all that is visible is a plastic manhole cover.

An above ground LPG tank costs around £500, with a small annual charge, and top-ups can be automated so you never worry about running out.

Your property will have to be viewed by a locally-accredited installer who can advise on your gas storage options and the location of your gas storage tank and ensure it is a workable solution for your home.

Your local LPG qualified boiler installer will also advise on the appropriate LPG boiler for your needs and will install the tank, the external pipework and, if you need it, the boiler.

There is more about all this on the Calor Gas website here or call us at UK Boiler Care if you’d like to talk through what you need.

And on a final note, for those of you who question the potential of LPG, in February 2019 Calor announced a partnership with OrbexSpace who have created the world’s first commercial rocket fuelled by BioLPG a clean-burning, renewable fuel source that cuts carbon emissions by 90% compared to fossil fuels. The fuel will power the world’s most efficient small satellite launcher. Its BioLPG engine is the world’s largest 3D printed rocket engine.