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LPG: the rural fuel of choice for the future?

Making the right choice about how we heat our homes can save us hundreds of pounds a year and at the heart of that decision is our boiler and what fuels it.

Boilers account for about 60 per cent of what we spend every year on energy, so an efficient boiler makes a big difference.

The majority of homes in the UK have mains gas central heating, but about 3.6 million people are not connected to the network. This is where LPG might be the answer.

LPG is a highly efficient fuel because it offers a good return on every unit of energy produced.

Allied to this, some modern boilers have the ability to recycle latent heat gases, normally expelled through the flue into the atmosphere, using them to preheat the incoming water - effectively providing a free supply.

Nowhere is the need to get the most from your boiler more acute than in rural areas. There are 1.7 million rural households in the country with more than twice the percentage of retired people.

A recent government study revealed that three times more people live in fuel poverty in rural areas and this alarming ratio is continuing to rise.

With this in mind more should be done to encourage suppliers, installers and home owners to use more efficient boilers. A lot of work has been done to ensure that LPG can work with renewable and low-carbon technologies without the need for major structural changes to people’s homes.

Solar thermal-heated water is ideal for many rural homes and, apart from solar collectors, the equipment is similar to that required in a standard installation. LPG-compatible solar thermal water heating systems are already available, with LPG boilers used for heating and as the back-up fuel.

More and more people believe LPG may be the rural fuel for the future. While it might well be the right choice, it is important to sound a note of caution, as converting existing natural gas boilers to LPG can be dangerous. Our message is buy a boiler ready for the fuel it is intended for.

Cash incentives are already offered by the government to people who improve the insulation and draught proofing in their homes. Next year’s Green Deal will make it possible for people to have energy efficiency measures carried out without paying for the work upfront. Instead the money will be taken off future energy bills.

For those who can’t afford renewable solutions but need a boiler for their heating needs today, there are steps they can take towards saving energy and a brighter future.

Louis Pickersgill is managing director for Ravenheat Manufacturing