Nearly four million UK homes are not connected to the mains gas network and have little prospect of ever being connected, so if you move to a property such as this you’ll have to give consideration to which alternative fuels you’ll use to heat your home and provide hot water.
But don’t worry; there is a range of options available, each with their own benefits. To help you choose wisely, the experts at Calor have put together this handy rundown of fuels for rural homes not connected to the mains gas grid…
Oil is often the default option for homes with no access to mains gas. The price of oil is currently competitive, but this fluctuates so there is no guarantee how much it will cost each refill.
Oil is delivered by road and sensors are available to monitor your oil level, but you’ll be responsible for checking your levels and ordering top-ups when needed.
Thieves sometimes view oil as an easy target, as the fuel is stored in a tank in the garden, meaning it can be easily siphoned. This poses a security risk, and if there’s an oil leak you may be responsible for any leakages.
Electricity is another popular option – with electric boilers or electric storage heaters to choose from. Storage heaters are cheaper to install and maintain than electric boilers, but don’t offer the same level of control over your heating as a central heating system.
Electric options can be pricey to run - on average it’s 2-3 times more expensive to heat a home using electricity than oil, LPG and solid fuel - so you may be forced to use a specialist tariff to keep costs down.
Solid Fuel & Biomass
Solid fuel and biomass systems burn wood pellets, chips or logs to provide warmth in a single room or to power central heating and hot water boilers. Although stoves look fantastic, you’ll need somewhere to store the wood or coal, and you’ll have to refill the stove regularly.
There will be soot produced that can be messy, and you may find your
home heats up unevenly. Stoves only provide heating in one room, so an electric
immersion tank may also be needed for hot water alongside this.
Air Source Heat Pumps
For a more environmentally friendly option, air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, or warm air convectors and hot water in your home.
They are usually quite expensive to install and you may still need a backup supply of fuel such as oil or LPG for times of the year when the weather may not allow the system to work most efficiently.
LPG is the closest alternative to being on mains gas and is fast becoming the choice of fuel for those living off-grid. Having LPG connected to your home means that you can use it for heating and hot water, gas fires, and gas cooking - just like having mains gas.
LPG is the cleanest and greenest of all off-grid fossil fuels and is also really efficient with modern condensing LPG boilers achieving efficiencies of 90 per cent and more
Automatic top-up technology is available on LPG tanks, monitoring gas levels and alerting the supplier when a delivery is required, meaning there’s no need to check fuel levels or re-order.
Most LPG suppliers such as Calor own the LPG storage tank, and for a small monthly charge, insure and maintain the tank, so you don’t need to worry about its upkeep. Even better, LPG is virtually impossible to steal.
An LPG tank can be easily hidden underground which looks nicer, and if you’re short of outside space or have lower heating needs, compact cylinder packs are available too. LPG suppliers such as Calor also offer fixed rates for certain periods, which is a plus if you’re looking to keep in-control of your heating costs.