As oil prices remain low, OFTEC says consumers need realistic carbon reduction solutions

As new industry figures show a further 7.8% fall in the cost of heating a typical home using oil in the last three months, OFTEC says the case for consumers to stick with, or even switch to oil is growing stronger, underlining the need for urgent change to the government’s low carbon heat strategy.

According to the latest Sutherland Tables*, the cost of heating an average three bedroom home in Great Britain with oil is now just £731 per year. That’s 28% cheaper than mains gas, 51% cheaper than LPG and 54% cheaper than electric storage heaters.

With many predicting that oil prices will remain low for the foreseeable future, OFTEC is urging government to recognise the current position and adopt a new approach to reducing carbon emissions from heating, especially for off grid households.

Instead of incentivising 100% renewable heating technologies which, for the average consumer, are prohibitively expensive and impractical to install, the focus should be on providing practical, affordable measures that help households upgrade their existing heating systems.

OFTEC director general Jeremy Hawksley comments: “Government needs to acknowledge that cost remains the major motivator for most consumers and with oil prices now reaching a ten year low, there is little incentive for households to change their heating systems, even with the help of schemes such as the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.

“Whilst renewable technologies such as heat pumps work well in some properties such as highly insulated new builds, for the vast majority of people, especially those living in older, poorly insulated off grid homes, they are an unrealistic option.

“The cost of heating an average home with an air source heat pump for example is now almost twice that of oil at £1,453 per year. This is in addition to high up front installation costs which run into thousands of pounds. Most people, especially the 4.5 million households in the UK still living in fuel poverty, simply can’t afford this option and urgently need support to lower their carbon emissions from heating in a cost effective way.”

OFTEC says that if a boiler scrappage scheme, similar to the initiative launched in London earlier this month, were to be rolled out across the country, the total carbon savings would be huge. Upgrading to a modern condensing boiler could help the average four bedroom home using oil reduce carbon emissions by up to 23% - and cut fuel bills by a similar amount.

Jeremy Hawksley concludes: “With an estimated 600,000 standard efficiency oil boilers still in use across the country, the potential benefits of a simple scrappage scheme to the environment – and consumers’ pockets – are enormous. It’s an approach which makes sense on every level and we urge the government to take action now.”

*Sutherland Tables, a recognised independent source of data on comparative UK domestic heating prices.

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