One question that occasionally crops up when someone is looking to replace their boiler or heating system in their home is what the best option in terms of cost and efficiency is. For many individuals there can be a lot of flexibility with regards to what energy source that they can use. For others, these options can be somewhat limited. Here, we’ll breakdown the different types of heating fuels that are available and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
When it comes to heating the home, generally electricity will play a part of the process to lesser or greater degree for most heating fuels. However, it is entirely possible to heat the entire home with just electricity and forego any other heating fuel source.
The main problem with using electricity as a main heating source is the cost of electricity in general. This type of energy can be the most expensive of all the heating ‘fuels’, or at least in the UK this is currently the case. For a home where it is possible to select a different type of heating fuel, then it is nearly always better to do so since electricity is so expensive. Typically, this is the energy source choice when no others are available, or when the property itself is quite small, for example in a flat, or for out buildings. Electricity is also used as a supplementary source of power, for example when combined with underfloor heating that may be used in a small space, such as a bathroom.
Find out more about electric boilers to heat your home
If your home is or can be connected to the gas grid, then this is by far the cheapest energy source to heat your home with. It is a common way for home heating and cooking, and the price is cheaper than electricity. For homes that are already connected to a gas supply then this is by far the best and cheapest method available for heating your home. For homes that are not connected but can be, the necessary equipment can be quite expensive to install, but still most likely worth it considering all factors. Unfortunately, gas is not available to all households.
Take a look at our range of gas boilers
LPG (gas oil) and Heating Oil (kerosene)
For those people who do not live in an area where gas is available, typically in the country side then another option is to use an off-grid solution, such as LPG, or heating oil. In these solutions a tank is typically installed outside the home and fuel is delivered to your house by a tanker. One of the benefits of these fuels is that they are cheaper than electricity. LPG is one of the cleanest fuels available, so is a good choice for those who favour environmental issues. Another advantage of LPG over heating oil is that thefts are unlikely as it is harder to transport. On the other hand, it is fairly easy to steal heating oil.
Perhaps one variable where heating oil can outperform LPG is with the cost. This can be both and advantage and disadvantage. The cost of heating oil varies considerably and is linked to market movements to the price of oil. This means that heating oil can be very cheap, or very expensive depending on market conditions. Heating oil also tends to be cheaper in the summer, and more expensive when there is a lot of demand for a refill, for example just before Easter or Christmas, or when there is a cold spell. For the savvy shopper who buys in bulk then they can actively time this to get a good deal. For those who tend to buy when required, then they are more likely to be affected by cost spikes.
Find out more about the LPG Boilers available here at Mr Central Heating.
Wood & Coal
Many people dream of heating their home using a wood burning stove, and historically people have used coal as a heating source in the home. However, the reality today is that whilst this type of fuel is great at heating a room up on a cold winter’s day, having to use a wood burner or even a coal fire on a regular basis can be time consuming to light, and be quite costly to run on an on-going basis unless you have your own free source of wood available.
It is possible to heat hot water with these types of stove too, if a boiler stove has been installed, but these also suffer from the same issues of expensive fuel and general impracticality in terms of having to light a fire regularly, and only having the heat available in certain areas of the home.
Generally, most people buy a wood burning stove for aesthetic reasons and the overall general comfort that this type of fire offers.
Previously in the UK this wasn’t a bad option in terms of supplementary energy but today in 2018 a lot of the government subsidy has been significantly reduced. However, the good news is that the overall cost of a solar power installation has also fallen and continues to do so. One of the main issues of solar power in the UK at least is a lack of sunny days, but the efficiency of the panels even in sub-optimal conditions is very good.
One of the most positive aspects of solar energy is that once the equipment is installed it is cheap to run and produces clean energy that can be used to power your home. This energy type is perfect as a supplement to other fuels and energy sources and can help reduce costs for your overall energy bills. Therefore, as a source of fuel for your home heating system, due to the variance of energy output, this is not always the best choice. This means that solar will not likely be able to be used on its own, without a back-up energy source,
Additional downsides include the fact that the investment costs for the panels, installation and ancillary equipment can take many years to recoup before you are in profit, financially. In addition, not everyone has roof space available, and the direction of the roof is also fairly important - with the most energy generation coming from panels pointing in a southerly, or even an east west direction.