There is currently only a narrow range of low carbon heating alternatives to heating oil. In this section we briefly compare them before looking in more detail at heat pumps, the government’s preferred option.
Low carbon heating for oil heated homes – how do the costs compare?
With the exception of HVO, converting to low carbon alternatives to oil heating means replacing your existing heating system. The current average installation cost of the three main alternatives is:
|Technology||Average installation cost|
|Air Source Heat Pump||£10,918|
|Ground / Water Source Heat Pump||£22,507|
Unlike boilers, heat pumps work most efficiently when supplying heated water at relatively low temperatures. This means underfloor heating downstairs and/or larger radiators may be necessary to maintain comfortable room temperatures. Avoiding heat loss is also important, so these systems benefit from installation in well-insulated homes.
A biomass boiler is the closest match for an oil heating system, and the existing radiator system can usually be retained. The appliances are often bulkier than a typical oil system, and the solid fuel (i.e. wood pellets) needs to be stored close to the boiler, so a dedicated boiler room and fuel store will usually be needed.
The government’s preferred option is to convert most rural homes to using heat pumps – a type of electric heating. Heat pumps are extremely efficient, but for many households they could be costly and disruptive to install.
Are heat pumps the right solution for your home?
Heat pumps may be an excellent choice for some of these homes, particularly those that are already energy efficient or when installed as part of a larger renovation project. However, households who already have efficient traditional heating will see little improvement to their quality of life to be motivated to invest in these low carbon alternatives.
We think many households would welcome other, cheaper and simpler low carbon options such as HVO that are better suited to their individual circumstances.