Oil heating and the environment
Decarbonisation of oil for domestic heating :
Almost all UK domestic oil fired central heating systems use 28 sec oil which is sometimes known as kerosene. In Jan 2008 fuel sulphur in all off-road fuels (including Kerosene – home heating oil) was reduced by half in order to significantly reduce the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere through fuel combustion.
The consequences of lower sulphur levels in boiler fuel :
Sulphur naturally occurs in crude oil and the process used to remove the sulphur is very expensive for refineries to implement. At least one UK refinery no longer makes kerosene, as it is uneconomic for it to do so. This lack of UK production has created a higher percentage of kerosene being imported (around 44%) and a much more variable fuel quality.
To safeguard good, clean, efficient combustion of your oil boiler, regular servicing will ensure that any problems associated with varying fuel quality are addressed.
With increasing focus on renewable and sustainable energy requirements, Bio fuel usage is set to increase. Work is already in progress to establish bio-fuels, produced wholly from vegetable oils as a partial or complete replacement for kerosene. Initially, it is intended that liquid bio-fuel and kerosene will be blended in a fixed ratio to bring down further the CO2 emissions. These first generation bio-fuels already exist in the market however at the moment, they are not widely available in the UK, but could provide a greener alternative to normal heating oil, especially if it uses waste vegetable oils as its feedstock.
In areas not connected to mains gas it is estimated that 1.2 million households use oil central heating, other fuel options include electric powered boilers, coal fired systems and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). All have their own benefits and drawbacks. Some of the key benefits of oil are
- Oil boilers are more efficient than LPG making them cheaper to run
- Unlike LPG it is easier to shop around oil suppliers to get the cheapest fuel prices
- Has lower emissions than electric boilers or hard coal fired boilers
- Oil tanks are now double bunded making them highly resistant to leaks or damage
- Oil fired central heating systems can have renewable systems like Solar Thermal panels added to them to further increase efficiency and lower energy bills
Types of oil boiler
Modern oil-fired boilers are very energy-efficient and manufacturers claim net seasonal operating efficiencies of up to 97% for ‘A` rated condensing oil boilers. Condensing boilers provide optimum performance with lower running costs and reduced CO₂ emissions. In order to comply with the current UK Building Regulations it has been mandatory Since April 2007 to install condensing oil boilers (except range cookers) and should always be considered as a first choice in any application.
There are three types of oil boiler: combination, regular and system. The type of system you need will largely depend on the size of your home and your requirements.
Combination Boilers also known as the “combi” boiler, act as both central heating boiler and a high efficiency water heater within one small compact package. Eliminating the need for hot water cylinders and water tanks, they are excellent systems to have installed in smaller properties where space saving is important. It produces hot water on demand at mains pressure making it more efficient with the same levels of performance as a power shower. The combi boiler is one of the most popular types of boiler to be installed accounting for 2 out of every 3 boilers installed annually.
Regular Boilers also known as conventional boilers require a hot water cylinder to function, best suited to homes that require a large amount of stored hot water or homes with more than one bathroom. They are also compatible with solar hot water heating. They are usually open vented systems and require a cold water storage cistern to feed the hot water cylinder and an expansion cistern.
System Boilers like the Regular boiler works by using stored hot water. Unlike the regular boiler, this system has many of the components required to run the heating and hot water built directly into the boiler removing the need for a feed and expansion cistern installed. It can connect to either an unvented mains pressure hot water cylinder or a low pressure hot water cylinder and is again compatible with solar hot water systems.