We are really struggling making the decision for our heating. I always come back to the same scenario – air source isn’t going to be sufficient for radiators upstairs; ground source is far more expensive and will probably require a borehole; biomass just doesn’t appeal and, above everything else, these methods haven’t been about for a huge length of time.

So, my question is, why should we not just install a much cheaper oil boiler? The house is going to be very thermally efficient so we are hoping that the heating won’t have to be on that much anyway. And, as a current oil user, we have seen the price come down and down over the past few years, rather than up and up as everybody predicted. I may be a little old fashioned but I’m taking some convincing about the new systems and although I know the RHI should eventually cover their cost, the initial outlay is huge compared to an oil boiler. BY the way, we’re not on mains gas.

Many thanks

  • Tony Taylor


    It is great that you have explored renewable solutions for your project, however, there is nothing wrong with using a standard oil fired boiler.

    The important thing is to insulate your building to a very high level, which will reduce your need for any kind of heating, as this reduces your running costs significantly. It is worth getting the detail correct for air infiltration as this can have a big impact on running costs.

    Both air and ground source heat pumps provide what is termed as ‘low grade heat’, essentially hot water at 35 to 45 degrees C. This is ideal for under-floor heating, but less so for radiators and domestic hot water, quite often the domestic hot water is topped up to the required 60 degrees C, by using an electric immersion heater, taking away or eliminating the saving made by having renewable technology in the first place.

    Added to this the fact that many air source heat pumps actually shut down when low external temperatures are experienced (for protection of the equipment) the renewable technology can be flawed.

    By using an oil boiler you are at risk of any price hikes, however, you have some experience of the pricing market for oil and experience is key, although this will not guarantee that oil prices will not rise in the future.

    Hope this helps.

    I have developed a website to answer questions such as yours, about different types of technology and how they should be integrated into buildings. It should be up and running by the end of May, take a look if you get chance http://www.smartgreenengineer.co.uk



  • Rebecca Clutton

    Thank you Tony. I will definitely have a look at your website.

  • Rebecca Clutton

    Thank you Tony. I will definitely have a look at your website.

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