Warm front

PUBLISHED: 09:18 10 October 2014 | UPDATED: 09:18 10 October 2014

David Patrick

David Patrick

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Winter’s on its way and we all want to stay snug, but if you’re one of Kent’s many rural households using oil heating, here are some handy tips on how you can upgrade old oil systems to keep warm, save money and cut carbon emissions

As the nights start to draw in and the temperature drops, it’s important to think about preparing your home for winter and to make sure that your central heating system is up to the job.

The beautiful Kent landscape means that there is a large proportion of off gas-grid homes, with the vast majority, some 31,000, using oil for central heating.

In the run up to winter it’s also vital that these homes check how much fuel they have left and place their winter fuel order in plenty of time.

The good news is that oil is the only central heating fuel to come down in price in the last three years - providing those living in the most idyllic and rural settings in the county with much more competitive and cost-effective heating bills.

Additionally, OFTEC, the UK trade body for the oil-fired heating industry, says oil users can take further measures to save money and energy by upgrading to a modern condensing oil boiler or converting to a hybrid system, which combines a condensing boiler with a renewable technology, such as biomass or solar hot water system.

Case study

David Patrick, a retired shoe designer from Petham, lives in a five-bedroom, late-Georgian property dating back to the 1820s and has found a way to significantly reduce his annual heating bill and cut carbon emissions at the same time.

David explains: “I moved to Kent about two years ago and took on the house as a bit of a project. One of the first things that desperately needed upgrading was the central heating system – parts of which dated back to the 1960s.

“The boiler itself was at least 20 years old, sounded like a rocket taking off and was very dirty. Now we’ve got a modern condensing boiler, installed by GGS Kent, which is 93 per cent efficient compared to the previous boiler which was only about 60 per cent efficient.

“I’ve never had oil central heating before but have been pleasantly surprised. The running costs aren’t as high as I’d anticipated and it’s a great relief to know that we’ve got a really modern system that is incredibly efficient and, most of all, reliable. “We’ve also got controls in each room to adjust temperature and make sure we’re not drawing oil unnecessarily. In addition to the boiler we have two wood burners that help to keep the place nice and warm in the winter.

“When we took on the house we considered alternative heating methods but for us, upgrading the oil system was really the only option. There’s no mains gas round here so the only other choices were LPG or solid fuel.

“We looked into renewable options such as ground-source heat pumps but with an old and draughty property such as this, even with extensive alterations there still would have been a great deal of heat loss and the initial outlay would’ve been far too expensive.

“We’re really happy with the performance of the oil heating system and by upgrading we’ll be saving money in the long run. We’ve also undoubtedly reduced our carbon output, which is an added bonus.”

Going green

For those with an eye on the future, oil heating systems can be combined with renewable technologies such as solar water heating or heat pumps, to help cut carbon emissions, save money and take advantage of the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. Under the RHI, consumers can receive incentive payments over seven years for installing a renewable or hybrid system. Air source heat pumps and solar thermal are both supported by the scheme and work well with oil systems.

However, installing a wholly renewable system can still be costly, even with the RHI payments. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average cost of installing an air source heat pump is £8,000, a ground-source heat pump £13,000 and a wood pellet boiler £14,000.

Additionally, owners of older properties may find it difficult to accommodate the extensive renovation and alterations required for renewable systems to work effectively. These usually include the need for underfloor heating or over-sized radiators and improved insulation.

So opting for a hybrid approach is a good, manageable first step to reducing your carbon emissions.

FIND OUT MORE

For more information and advice, visit www.oilsave.org.uk

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