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What fuels are available for heating?

Natural Gas

Benefits

  • Natural gas is said to be one of the cleanest burning and efficient energy sources for the home, it produces less sulphur dioxide, less particulate matter and less nitrogen – which means that it has a lower risk of smog and health and visibility affects.
  • ​Gas is a ‘fossil’ fuel, which means it was formed from the remnants of living matter from millions of years ago. It’s the cleanest of the fossil fuels – for each unit of energy or heat delivered, the CO₂ emissions are half that of oil, and a third that of coal.

Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels.

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)

Benefits

  • LPG is the cleanest burning rural fossil fuel available and emits less carbon than other fuels.
  • It’s a highly efficient fuel, so you make a good return on every unit of energy supplied.

Negatives

  • As a fossil fuel, LPG produces carbon dioxide when it’s burned and so isn’t considered a clean source of energy.

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) canisters.

Heating oil

Benefits

  • Oil is a highly efficient fuel, so you receive a good return on every unit of energy.

Negatives

  • Oil boilers generally limit the hot water flow rate to ensure the water is as hot as it should be, meaning the hot water flow rate is lower than a gas combi or hot water cylinder system and that the hot water temperature will decline as more water is used.
  • As a fossil fuel, oil produces carbon dioxide when it’s burned and can’t be considered a clean source of energy.

Home heating oil delivery.

Coal

Facts

  • If you live in a smoke control area – also known as smokeless zone – certain solid fuels can only be burnt on ‘exempt appliances’.
  • Many stoves that burn wood and coal-based solid fuels have this exempt classification, because they’re generally enclosed and glass-fronted. Such ‘appliances’ also burn the fuel more efficiently and completely.
  • A few decades ago, coal was the default choice of domestic fuel in the UK, but its use has fallen with the development of modern central heating systems. However, it’s still used in smokeless forms in solid fuel stoves, which tend to be used as a feature in living rooms.

Negatives

  • Open fireplaces look the part, but are a disaster when it comes to keeping in the heat – especially if they are only used occasionally. Up to 90% of any heat generated by an open fire will disappear up the chimney. In addition to this, they will suck air into the room, exacerbating any draughts. Ideally, seal your chimney with a register plate, which will both stop the draughts and allow you to use a wood-burning stove, which has the advantage of not being reliant on fossil fuels (if you live in a smokeless zone, look for a stove with an exemption certificate).
  • Coal is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels and we need to move away from this as a source of energy.

Coal fire.