Heating Oil Boilers and New Legislation

Current boiler legislation
New Heating Oil Boiler Legislation

About heating Oil Boilers and new legislation

Under new legislation, today’s heating oil boilers are more energy efficient and need to meet stringent air quality controls in the UK.

Due to far reaching advances, heating technology in new heating oil boilers are more energy efficient. Boilers previously installed or now coming to the end of their normal working life are subject to new legislation. Replacing a 15 year old heating oil boiler with a modern highly efficient model, could save you over 20% on your existing fuel bills.

What is an oil boiler?

Oil boilers require a stored supply of oil to generate heat or/and hot water for properties off the gas grid. The main difference between oil boilers and gas boilers is you need an heating oil tank to store your delivered oil. Heating Oil boilers function in the same way as other fuel type boilers. Once the oil is set alight, a heat exchanger warms up the water supply, This can be either mains pipe or storage tank. A standard oil tank can heat a house for up to six to nine months.

Why do people choose oil boilers over gas?

It is estimated there are around 4 million homes in the UK that do not have access to gas or electricity. A suitable alternative for people living in rural areas is to install an oil boiler. Oil furnaces are one of the most cost-effective methods for home heating, although the price of fuel can fluctuate.

So, what are the main reasons people choose oil over gas?

Heating Oil is widespread in places where natural gas isn’t readily available. Maybe you don’t have gas in your neighbourhood, or maybe your house isn’t connected to the gas grid. Although, with oil, availability is not an issue. If there is an oil provider nearby, you can get your oil delivered to you and stored within your oil tank.

The boilers are the more ‘environmentally friendly option’ because heating oil is now mixed with biodiesel. Oil mixed with biodiesel burns much cleaner than the traditional oil.

Once you get your oil delivered to your storage tank, you don’t have to depend on anything else for your heating.

oil boiler noises

Maintenance of your heating oil boiler

Regular boiler maintenance should be carried out at least once a year. The filter on a warm air unit should be regularly cleaned. Always use engineers that provide servicing or regular maintenance work contracts are registered with OFTEC.

Replace an older heating oil boiler under current legislation

Older boilers are only about 50-60% efficient and should be replaced. Modern conventional models have an efficiency of70-80%. Condensing boilers are much higher at about 90% efficient. Thes do cost more more than a conventional boiler. However the savings in fuel bills will give a payback period of 3-6 years.

New ‘high efficiency’ gas boilers, for example, those with thermal capacity heat exchangers, are more efficient than standard new boilers. They may be more suitable for small or medium sized houses.

There is new legislation that affects heating oil boilers which falls under the UK Government’s “Clean Growth Strategy”. They have pledged to ban all fossil fuel boiler installations for new build homes by 2025.

There will also be a ban on the more polluting off gas grid heating methods of coal, oil and LPG for existing homes currently off the gas grid by 2025 also.  At present the Government offers the “Renewable Heating Incentive”. This is a system of payments that allows people to afford to switch from fossil fuel to new zero carbon alternatives. Accordingly, ground and air-source heat pumps are the preferred option.

To absolutely clarify, this does not mean that anyone with an existing boiler will be forced to change them. It means that when the time comes for replacement, following the ban, you will not be able to replace them with a fossil fuel boiler. There is a strong possibilty that the supply of the fossil fuel itself may be banned.

When the time comes to replace your boiler you will have alternatives. At the moment  (2020) you can still replace your fossil fuel boiler with another fossil fuel boiler, or you can chose an air-source heat pump now.

Sedbuk ratings for boilers

How to choose an efficient heating oil boiler

There is now a boiler database showing the efficiency of gas and oil domestic boilers. Both current and obsolete boilers are included and the database is regularly updated. The database was developed on behalf of the government to help SAP assessors. Conseuently, it is also intended to help purchasers and specifiers select efficient domestic central heating boilers.

Most boiler manufacturers publish the average seasonal efficiency figures of their boilers. These are similar to the ratings you see on electrical appliances such as fridges, freezers and washing machines. A simple guide to efficiency, has been created with SEDBUK efficiency bands assigned to boilers on a ‘A’ to ‘G’ scale. The band is shown on the database and may be used on product literature.

Oil boilers come in different variations, just like gas boilers, you have three options; combi, system or regular, all powered using oil.

Heating Oil Combi Boiler
Worcester Oil Combi Boiler
Worcester System Heating Oil boiler
Worceter System heating oil burner

Oil combi boilers

Combination boilers are both a highly efficient water heater and central heating unit. Oil combi boilers are a convenient choice for homes where space is limited as a combi supplies both heating and hot water within one compact unit, Their use is popular and eliminates the need for installing a separate hot water cylinder or water tank.

System oil boilers

By contrast, system oil boilers are a closed system which require a boiler and cylinder. Different to a regular boiler, system boilers take their water directly from the mains other than from a water tank.

Regular oil boilers

Regular oil boilers provide the heat that is used as part of your central heating and hot water, which is stored in a separate cylinder. Currently regular boilers are popular for use in larger properties but can be found in traditional property types as well.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Oil Boilers

Advantages Cost effective
Oil is a truly efficient fuel, so you will get a good return on the money you pay to fill up your oil tank.

Heating oil only ignites by an advanced system with an oil burner or furnace.

Modern oil heating systems perform up to 95% efficiency or even higher.

Annual heating costs for oil heat are consistently lower than natural gas or electricity.


Expensive to install
If you’re looking to change your method of central heating and do not currently have an oil boiler installed, the process can be costly and disruptive.

Bold design
As oil boilers require the oil to be stored in a tank, the tanks holding the oil are not the most appealing, especially if they are situated in a garden,

When the time comes to replace your boiler you will have alternatives. At the moment you can still replace your fossil fuel boiler with another fossil fuel boiler, or you can chose an air-source heat pump now.

Other related issues

Please check out our post on heating oil tanks. Every heating oil user must be aware of their legal obligations and costs associated with heating oil spills and leakages.

Always check current heating oil prices at heatingoilshop.com

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