Sunday 20 May 2012

How LPG central heating works

Although most households in the UK have mains gas central heating, around 3.6m households are not connected to the mains gas network.
In parts of the UK with no mains gas, some homes use liquid petroleum gas (LPG) instead. This is normally used in a ‘wet’ heating system where an LPG-fired boiler heats water, which provides central heating through radiators and hot water through the taps in your home.
The main difference between mains gas and LPG is that the latter is delivered by road and stored in a tank, which you may have to buy or rent from your supplier. Some boilers designed for mains gas can be converted to use LPG.
Annual fuel cost for heating and hot water (not including installation costs)
  • Fuel cost for heating and hot water: more than £1,300
Carbon emissions per year
  • Carbon emissions: 3.6 tonnes
These annual costs are estimated costs based on heating and hot water demands of a three-bedroomed, semi-detached, well-insulated house (insulated cavity walls, 270mm loft insulation, thermostatic radiator valves and insulated primary pipe work), the efficiencies of typical heating systems and the current average price of LPG per litre (as at Feb 2012). They are not derived from actual fuel bills.

Pros of LPG central heating

LPG is a highly-efficient fuel, so you get a good return on every unit of energy. Modern condensing boilers, which use hot flue gases that are wasted in a standard boiler, now achieve efficiencies of 90% and more.
Replacing a standard LPG boiler with a highly-efficient modern condensing boiler is a relatively straightforward job. See boiler reviews area for models from Which? Best Buy brands.
As gas is the most widely used heating fuel in the UK, finding a plumber should be fairly easy if your boiler breaks down or needs servicing. Plumbers and repairers who carry out work on boilers are required by law to be on the Gas Safe Register. You can check an engineer or firm's registration on the Gas Safe Register website or by calling directly on 0800 408 5500.
Which? members can find details of plumbers in their local area that have been recommended by other Which? members at Which Local.

Cons of LPG central heating

Like mains gas and oil, LPG prices are on the rise and are likely to remain high as the UK competes with growing demand from other countries. The Office of Fair Trading investigated the off-grid energy market following sharp price rises in winter 2010 but concluded that the market did not need price regulation. You can read more about the market probe in our story: Heating oil homes to face another hard winter?
As LPG is delivered by road there is a possibility that you could run out of gas while you wait for your next delivery. However, systems that monitor the amount of gas in your tank and automatically notify your supplier when it needs topping up are available.
Installing an LPG central heating system from scratch can be expensive and disruptive. The storage tank can also be unsightly (although this can be resolved by choosing an underground tank).
LPG boilers need servicing annually to ensure they run efficiently and last as long as they should do.
As a fossil fuel, LPG produces carbon dioxide when it’s burnt and so isn't considered a clean source of energy

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