Over recent years, oil and gas prices have been high, but, over the past decade, oil boilers have been much cheaper to run than bottled gas and LPG and even less expensive than electricity and anthracite.
The development of oil fired boilers has often mirrored that of gas powered boilers. Like gas boilers, new legislation has been introduced and since 2007, any new oil boilers must meet stringent building regulations. The popularity of oil boilers has pushed many of the top boiler manufacturers to update and introduce new oil boilers to their ranges. This is particularly so with condensing boilers.
Combi oil boilers are an excellent way of providing hot water on demand; however they can be slower than gas fired boilers. This is because a reserve of hot water is stored within the case of the boiler which can reduce the energy efficiency of the boiler. They reduce the need to have hot water tanks and therefore are useful if space is limited. This lack of storage space also means that oil fired boilers may not be quite as suitable for large homes.
It is feasible to have either balanced flue or open flue oil boilers sited in a domestic garage, however the expert advice is to use only balanced flues in those area. A balanced flue uses air drawn through a pipe in line with the extractor flue.
Modern oil boilers are extremely efficient and can offer efficiencies up to 97%, which allows them to qualify for the top efficiency rating, which is SEDBUK ‘A’. There are now a wide range of ‘A’ rated models on the market made by the major manufacturers.
The majority of oil boilers available in the United Kingdom run on kerosene. There are models available which run on heavier gas oil, but these tend to be less clean and produce more exhaust gases. Many manufacturers use additives to increase the flow of kerosene to the boiler. The added lubricants allow the kerosene to be pumped more easily. These changes allow the more modern oil burners to pump fuel over a longer distance, something which older models could sometimes struggle with, especially in colder weather.
Although kerosene produces 0.24kg of carbon dioxide per kWh, whilst gas produces a figure of 0.19kg of carbon dioxide per kWh; oil boilers are still seen as an acceptable alternative to gas boilers where the environment is concerned. If the oil boiler is well maintained and serviced regularly, it should run as efficiently as possible.
Many supplement the heat they gain from their oil boiler with solar thermal power, which can supply up to fifty per cent of a home’s hot water needs. Another option would be to use wood burning heaters, which are also environmentally friendly.
It is also recommended that if you are considering installing an oil fired boiler, you should have it installed by someone who is registered with Oftec, which is the Oil-Fired Technical Association.