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What heating fuel type is best for your business?

Heating fuel graphic

Knowing what heating fuel is best for your business can be challenging as every fuel type has different benefits. The most popular type of commercial heating fuels are:

  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Electric
  • Liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
  • Wood (biomass)

But how do you choose between them? What are the system installation costs, running costs and environmental considerations?

GlenFarrow have put together a small guide to the different fuel types listed above, weighing up the pro’s and con’s for each.

 

Gas

Gas is the most popular type of fuel in the UK.

Pros👍

  • Gas is competitively priced.
  • The cleanest of the fossil fuels (It emits half of the CO2 emissions compared to oil).
  • Gas is a very efficient fuel, so you will receive a good return on every unit of energy your business uses.
  • Delivers heat quickly.
  • No tanks or large equipment needed.

Cons👎

  • If your building is not on the mains network, gas can become extremely expensive or even impossible to connect.
  • Installation prices for a gas system can be expensive.
  • Although it is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, it still emits Co2. Therefore, it is not a ‘green’ method of heating your business.
  • Your energy supplier will invoice you for a “standing charge” to be connected to the Gas Network.

 

Oil

There are two types of oil – kerosene and gas oil. Kerosene is usually used for domestic homes and gas oil is more commonly used for commercial buildings.

Oil needs to be delivered by a lorry and pumped into an oil tank.

Pros 👍

  • In rural areas or where there is no access to mains gas, oil is often the cheapest option.
  • Oil is easy to control and provides your business heat when needed.
  • Oil is a highly efficient type of fuel, so you will get a good return on each unit of energy your business uses.
  • Oil can be purchased “out of season” meaning you can stock up on fuel, for a reduced price.

Cons 👎

  • You will need room for an oil tank, so valuable business space will be lost.
  • Oil is less convenient than gas and electric as your oil supply will need to be continuously refilled.
  • Oil prices can go up steeply if there is high demand for it. For example, during a long running winter season you can expect oil prices to rise.
  • Oil produces higher carbon emissions than gas.
  • Maintenance and servicing costs can be higher for oil appliances as there are more components requiring replacement / inspection.
  • Running out of oil can mean the requirement for an engineer to attend to “bleed” the system through, to re-gain operation. 

 

Electric

As more and more electricity is being generated from renewable sources (e.g. wind and solar), the future of commercial heating is pointing more in the direction of electric power everyday.

Pros👍

  • Electrical heating systems often have lower upfront installation costs than gas, oil and LPG systems.
  • The government supports strengths to meet their climate change targets, therefore the cost of low carbon energy like electric is not likely to rise.
  • As some types of electrical systems have no internal moving parts, they are believed to last longer than oil or gas heating systems.
  • There is no mandatory annual servicing on electrical heating systems.
  • As electric radiators and boilers don’t burn fuel internally to generate heat, there are no risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Easy to install.
  • Electrical heaters are nearly 100% efficient at converting electrical power into heating.
  • Some modern electric heat pumps cand be up to 500% efficient when installed correctly and in the correct scenario.

Cons👎

  • Cost per unit of electric energy is usually higher than natural gas, LPG or oil.
  • For high heat output, electric is not usually the most efficient energy source.

 

LPG (Liquefied petroleum gas)

LPG  (Liquefied petroleum gas) is a hydrocarbon gas that exists in its liquefied form.

Pros👍

  • LPG heating systems are easy to install and require a low amount of maintenance over time.
  • It is a very efficient type of heating fuel and can be much cleaner than oil.
  • Compared to oil fuel, LPG produces a lot less Co2 emissions.
  • This type of fuel is available off the gas grid.

Cons👎

  • LPG usually costs more than oil.
  • You will need storage a tank using LPG, so valuable business space will be taken up.

 

Wood (biomass)

Wood fuel (biomass) is currently the second largest source of renewable energy in the UK.

Pros👍

  • Wood is a renewable form of energy and is carbon neutral.
  • Replacing an oil or gas system with a biomass boiler system will reduce your businesses carbon footprint.
  • If your business produces a large amount of wood waste, you will have a free fuel supply and it will help with waste wood management.
  • Price of wood fuel can be much cheaper than electric and other fuel types, making biomass a cost effective alternative.
  • If you buy a second hand biomass heating system, you may be eligible to benefit from the remainder of an associated RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) tariff, earning your business an income from heating your premises.

Cons👎

  • Biomass boilers require more space than gas or oil boilers as they are a much larger system.
  • The initial investment in a biomass system can be much greater, including the purchase of the boiler and installation.
  • Wood fuel needs to remain dry or it will not burn efficiently.
  • Batch-fed biomass systems require more work than traditional oil and gas boilers as you have to continuously feed the system wood (although fully automatic systems are available).
  • Biomass boilers need to cleaned regularly.
  • If you do not have your own wood supply, you will need to find a supplier of wood close enough to your business to reduce carbon footprint and delivery costs.

 

Still unsure about which fuel supply is best for your business? For more advice, contact GlenFarrow today on 01775 722327 or email us: info@glenfarrow.co.uk.

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