PRICE OF DOMESTIC FUEL OIL DOUBLES – LEAVING HOME OWNERS LOOKING FOR ALTERNATIVES
Homeowners with oil- fired boilers have faced unprecedented price rises, making it hugely costly for the hot water and heating in their homes, with many considering what options are open to them such as using lower cost biofuels.
15 June 2011 – Homeowners that are not connected to the mains gas network have few alternatives to installing an oil-fired boiler running on fuel oil that heats their water and keeps their homes warm. The 1.5 million homes in the UK with oil-fired boilers have not only just gone through two successive cold winters but have also sustained substantial hikes in fuel oil prices; in many cases causing real financial hardship. In addition, many households have also found it difficult to get their fuel oil tanks replenished due to problems in the supply chain. It’s hardly surprising that they are looking at alternatives in order to reduce their spiralling heating and cooking bills. Along with important energy efficiency measures such as improved insulation and alternative sources of renewable energy, some are looking at changing or adapting their boilers to use biofuels.
Biofuels are created from either recycling used cooking oils or are processed direct from plants such as soya or rapeseed that are grown specifically for fuel oil. Biofuels are not always suitable for burning in domestic boilers and may result in damage to the system if used. The Heating Helpline has learnt that the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) and others are working with the Government to produce a new blended bio-heating oil which will be suitable and eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) when it becomes available in October 2012. RHI will offer financial incentives provided by the Government – effectively grants – for a range of technologies, and boilers running on the new blended bio-heating oil will qualify.
However the Heating Helpline warns that making the change to biofuels will require professional advice. Bob Towse, Technical Consultant to the Heating Helpline, comments, “When switching to biofuel-burning boilers, either by making adaptations to existing boilers or installing new equipment, it is vitally important to consider a number of issues such as:
- the reliability and continuity of local supplies;
- the storage of this fuel type: this needs to be carefully managed as biofuels readily absorb water. It will be necessary to buy a new bio-compatible oil storage tank and to adapt your boiler and fuel lines as some existing parts are not compatible with biofuel;
- awareness that biofuels can react differently with common materials causing them to perish and corrode, such as rubber seals in fuel pumps and filters;
- the need for special burner nozzles and supply pipes to cope with the new fuel properties: biofuels are thicker and heavier with different burning characteristics than conventional mineral oil fuel oils;
- ensuring that a knowledgeable, qualified and registered heating engineer carries out the work.
The Heating Helpline, which is backed by the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association (HVCA), advises that for your safety only qualified and registered heating engineers should carry out work on boilers and heating systems in the home. You can find your nearest reputable, registered heating engineer by calling the Heating Helpline on 0800 840 4069, or visit their website at: http://www.heatinghelpline.org.uk. Alternatively visit the government backed TrustMark website at: http://www.trustmark.org.uk.
Issued on behalf of the HVCA by Next Step Marketing Ltd
Media enquiries to: Denzil Lee
Tel: 44(0)1256 472020
Fax: 44(0)1256 471010
Notes to Editors
Established in 1904, the HVCA is the premier organisation representing central heating contractors across the UK, and exists to promote fair dealing and the sound installation of heating systems. HVCA members all undergo third-party inspection and assessment of their technical competence and commercial capability every three years. This process is carried out by an independent certification body with an established industry reputation. HVCA members who undertake gas installations are registered with Gas Safe – the gas safety watchdog body – and are also members of TrustMark, the Government-endorsed scheme designed to direct customers towards reliable tradespeople. HVCA operates the Heating Helpline (http://www.heatinghelpline.org.uk) to provide consumers with free, impartial advice on every aspect of home heating.