There are more than 1.5 million off-grid properties in the UK that are heated with oil boilers. If your oil heating is becoming unreliable or you want to replace it with something greener, here are some of the main reasons to replace your oil boiler to a heat pump.

Oil boilers generate more carbon emissions than almost any other type of home heating

Heating an average home using heating oil results in carbon emissions of 5,200kg a year. That’s more than two return flights from London to New York. On top of the carbon emissions from the boiler itself, heating oil comes with the added environmental impact of getting oil delivered by truck.

In comparison, if you replaced your oil boiler with a heat pump running on grid electricity, it would generate just 850kg of carbon emissions a year. This carbon footprint can be reduced further by generating electricity using solar panels, or switching to a green energy tariff that matches the power used by the heat pump with electricity from renewable sources.

Oil boilers are being banned within the next two decades

As part of commitments to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the government is phasing out gas and oil boilers. While the ban on new gas and oil boiler installations has been pushed back to 2035, if you need to replace your existing oil boiler it’s worth investing in one that’s fit for the future.

What’s more, if you replace your oil boiler with a heat pump soon, you can apply for a £7,500 government heat pump grant from the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. There is only a set amount of government funding being made available for this grant, with no news yet about future schemes that could replace it.

Oil could leave you with a big cleanup bill

Oil tank owners are legally responsible for making sure their system doesn’t contaminate the surrounding environment. Failing to prevent an oil leak could lead to a hefty fine or even prosecution – as well as a cleanup bill that could stretch to tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of pounds. 

Most homeowners with oil tanks have to take out specific oil spill insurance to protect them. If you have a heat pump, you should make your home insurer aware, but you don’t need a specific policy to cover it.

air source heat pump vs oil boiler

Domestic oil prices are more volatile than electricity

The price of oil can change dramatically over small periods of time, and is frequently influenced by political events around the world. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the worsening of the energy crisis, homeowners faced bills of over £800 for 500-litre delivering of heating oil – up from £250 just a few months earlier.

Heat pumps are powered by electricity. While electricity prices are also affected by changes in the global energy market, rates do not change as frequently. Reliable energy suppliers with sustainable energy trading practices are able to tell customers at least a month in advance of price rises and indicate the impact on their energy bills. This provides customers with more certainty about their energy costs. 

Oil heating can leave your home cold throughout the day

Oil-heated households are often very mindful about how often they put on their heating – likely because they really understand the cost of physically topping it up. This can lead to people scheduling short blasts of heat morning and night, and otherwise leaving their homes to get cold throughout the day – which can be unpleasant and uncomfortable if you spend lots of time at home.

Good Energy customer explains why he  replaced oil boiler with a heat pump.

Air source heat pumps run at their most efficient when they maintain a constant ambient temperature of 19-21 degrees throughout the day, and a couple of degrees cooler overnight. This means that for the same price, or cheaper, than what you would spend on heating oil – your home could be warm and comfortable all day long.

Heat pumps generally cost less to run than an oil boiler

If you replace your oil boiler with a heat pump, you can generally expect them to cost less to run. Our green heating experts design our heat pump systems to work as efficiently as possible. This means they use less electricity and keep your running costs low – while providing comfort around the clock.

Good Energy heat pumps reach an average efficiency of 340%. This means that for every unit of electricity they use, they produce 3.4 units of heat energy for your home. Modern oil boilers are only around 80-90% efficient, which means that some of the energy they burn is wasted before it even reaches your radiators.

As you can see in the example below, only the most efficient oil boilers will reach a similar annual cost as a heat pump (based on oil prices remaining at an average of 70p / litre).

Heat pump running costs compared with oil boiler running costs.

Estimated annual heating costs of air source heat pumps and oil boilers for a medium-usage household with a heat demand of 12,000kWh. Running costs based on the following kWh prices (April 2024 price cap): £0.245 for electricity;12 month average oil price up until April 2024 of £0.064p/kWh; heating efficiency of 70% for old oil boilers, 90% for modern oil boilers and 340% for air source heat pumps.

Read about how to keep your heat pump working as efficiently as possible.

Find out more about heat pump running costs

Heat pumps are less hassle than an oil boiler

Rather than having to pay attention to the levels of your oil tank and schedule top ups (especially during periods when oil prices are changing by the day), a heat pump provides heat as and when you need it.

The high efficiency of a heat pump means it’s simple to keep your home at a constantly comfortable level. You simply set up a heating schedule and leave it to heat your home exactly how you like it.

Why switch your oil boiler for a heat pump

Heat pumps are suitable for all sorts of homes, including off grid.

Heat pumps are much lower carbon than oil boilers.

Replacing an oil boiler with a heat pump is likely to be more simple than you think. For a start, they are designed to work with wet central heating systems, so your home is unlikely to need a complete refit.

As part of our installation service, we offer detailed remote or in-person surveys that assess whether your heating needs any changes to make it compatible with a heat pump. This includes measuring where heat is lost and recommending changes to the placement, size or number of radiators to make your home more comfortable.

Read more about what happens during our heat pump surveys

There you have it. Our top reasons to replace your oil boiler with a heat pump.

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