A Guide to Off-Mains Heating

Log cabin self build on a woodland plot in Derbyshire
(Image credit: Alistair Nicholls)

In the UK, there are around four million homes that are not connected to the main gas network. For years, the options were mainly:

  • oil
  • LPG
  • electricity
  • solid fuel, such as coal or logs.
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Annual Running Cost and Fuel Cost Comparison
Header Cell - Column 0 Fuel price (per KWH)Annual Running CostFuel cost over 7 yearsFuel cost over 10 years
Mains gas£0.06£850.50£8,576£14,916
Biomass £0.06£866.25£6,839£10,397
Ground-source heat pump£0.15£562.50£5,670£9,862
Air-source heat pump£0.15£750£7,566£13,161
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Capital Cost Comparison
Fuel*Capital cost
Mains gas£2,500
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Overall Costs
FuelTotal cost over 7 yearsTotal cost over 10 years
Mains gas£11,076£19,916
Oil £11,886£22,544
Tim Pullen

Tim is an expert in sustainable building methods and energy efficiency in residential homes and writes on the subject for magazines and national newspapers. He is the author of The Sustainable Building Bible, Simply Sustainable Homes and Anaerobic Digestion - Making Biogas - Making Energy: The Earthscan Expert Guide.

His interest in renewable energy and sustainability was first inspired by visits to the Royal Festival Hall heat pump and the Edmonton heat-from-waste projects. In 1979

this initial burst of enthusiasm lead to him trying (and failing) to build a biogas digester to convert pig manure into fuel, at a Kent oast-house, his first conversion project.

Moving in 2002 to a small-holding in South Wales, providing as it did access to a wider range of natural resources, fanned his enthusiasm for sustainability. He went on to install renewable technology at the property, including biomass boiler and wind turbine.

He formally ran energy efficiency consultancy WeatherWorks and was a speaker and expert at the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows across the country.