Helping UK homeowners make the right heating choices

Could Oil Boilers Soon be a Thing of the Past?


At their latest conference, OFTEC outline ambitious plans to make over 400,000 off-grid homes oil-free from 2022. What does this mean for your oil boiler?

As part of the government’s decarbonisation plans, they want to upgrade the old, inefficient oil boilers still in use across England and Wales. This would require homeowners investing a lot of money into replacing their old systems, which is why OFTEC have come up with an alternative route to efficiency.

For the past 12 months, OFTEC have been implementing a two stage strategy that would ultimately see kerosene replaced with low carbon liquid fuel. Introducing this fuel would be much more practical for homeowners and still make the old, inefficient units much more efficient, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective.

Speaking at their recent conference, OFTEC CEO Paul Rose stated that “the best approach to carbon reduction lies in ‘greening’ the fuel itself rather than focussing on the appliance. Bringing a low carbon liquid fuel to market would overcome the issues associated with poor quality rural housing stock, minimise upfront costs for consumers and provide a practical, simple to understand alternative to kerosene.”

What Does This Mean For Homeowners?

If you live in one of the 400,000 off-grid rural homes that have an old oil boiler fitted then OFTEC’s plans are great news for you.

The government’s decarbonisation strategy is to replace all oil boilers, but this would be a costly and potentially complicated process for homeowners, especially those in older homes.  By developing a low carbon fuel to replace oil, OFTEC are trying to help homeowners to avoid the hassle and expense of replacing their boiler by giving them the option of changing the fuel it runs on instead.   

However, whether it’s the government’s oil boiler replacements or OFTEC’s fuel change which becomes a reality, the implementation of both plans is still a few years away.  If your oil boiler is more than 8 years old, installing a new energy efficient boiler should reduce carbon emissions and help to save you money on your energy bills. If you’d like to replace your old oil boiler, then you should compare quotes from multiple installers to be sure to get the best deal.

Boiler Guide will provide up to 3 no obligation, no fee quotes from reputable installers in your area. Get quotes here.

We’ve mentioned OFTEC’s strategy but what exactly does it involve?

Stage 1 (2018 – 2022)

  • Introduce a nationwide boiler replacement programme to drive the replacement of existing standard efficiency oil boilers with high efficiency condensing units. This is to be further supported by mandating heating controls like functional timers and thermostats when a boiler is installed, further reducing energy usage.

Stage 2 (2022 onwards)>

  • Replace kerosene with a low carbon liquid fuel.Since announcing their plans, OFTEC have been informing rural consumers of the practical difficulties and potential costs of government proposals highlighted in the Clean Growth Strategy, which aims to phase out high carbon fossil fuel heating. They’ve also been making it clear how important low carbon liquid fuels are as a practical and cost-effective solution for off-grid homes.

How Can Off-Grid Homes Become More Efficient?

Decarbonising off-grid homes is no easy task. Homes can have an efficiency rating which measures the efficiency of homes and the result falls into different bands from A, the most efficient with low energy bills, down to a G. To put the challenge with off-grid homes into perspective, only 12% of them are higher than band D.

Once lifted into band C, homes can then consider investing in renewable technologies around the home. However, it would take significant costs to improve the energy rating of a home and if that was to be done further investment would have to made by the homeowner in the renewable technologies themselves.

Thanks to highly efficient boilers that can be converted to run on low carbon liquid fuel, homeowners wanting to improve their efficiency don’t have to consider such high investments.

OFTEC responded to a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) request asking for actions that can be taken to phase out high carbon fossil fuel heating in off-grid properties by stating that zero emissions can be reached by 2050. That shows how valuable these low carbon liquid fuels can be to homeowners and the planet.

What are the Low Carbon Liquid Fuels?

OFTEC, along with other manufacturers, have been testing various low carbon fuel blends and a 100% biofuel, with very positive results. They carried out tests on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) blended with kerosene. The mixtures have included 60% to 100% HVO, with highly positive results.

Prior to this, OFTEC conducted successful trials of a low carbon liquid fuel called B30K which is now commercially available and doesn’t cost too much more than heating oil.

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