A Guide On How To Keep Your Off-Grid Home Warm Using Heating Oil

A Guide On How To Keep Your Off-Grid Home Warm Using Heating Oil

For many people, the idea of being able to escape the urban metropolis and head for the hills - quite literally - is an idea that will always appeal. There is something idyllic about the idea of moving away from the hustle and bustle and embracing the rural way of life; of replacing the sounds of traffic for the quiet hum of nature; of turning your back on a 24/7, open-all-hours style of living and embracing a quieter, simpler life experience.

However, while we all understand how living in a rural area can be different in the ways described above, some of the differences about the way rural life progresses are surprising - and one such lesser-known area is in terms of how a property is heated.

The conventional way of heating a home 

For the vast majority of households, heating a home is a choice between two fuels in particular. There are alternatives out there, but ultimately, it comes down to electricity or mains gas. Electricity is generally the more expensive of the two options for the purposes of heating, so it’s no surprise that 85% of British respondents told a survey that they have gas in their home. Eighty-five percent is the kind of market penetration that most services dream of; gas is, very much, the heating fuel of the masses.

The trouble with gas in rural homes

Gas may be the choice of the masses, but for those living in rural areas in off grid homes, there is a significant problem: mains gas simply isn’t always available.

For those living in cities, suburbs, towns, and larger villages, the idea of a property not being connected to mains gas, not through choice but because it literally cannot be - as a result of being off-grid - is a rather surprising concept. We’re all so accustomed to either being able to elect not to use gas, or having it available at the flick of a thermostat. So why are many rural homes having to go without?

Many rural homes have simply never been connected to the gas mains network and - most importantly - arranging for a connection can be prohibitively expensive.

As a result, many rural homeowners like yourself are left with a dilemma: running a property on electrical heating alone is extremely expensive, and mains gas is either not available or too costly to make available by the means of connecting to a mains supply. Alternatives therefore have to be found, and there is one in particular that tends to stand out from the crowd: home heating oil.

Heating oil: quick facts

  • Heating oil is a viable option for domestic heating requirements.
  • There are two different types of heating oil:
    • Kerosene heating oil (also known as “28 second oil”) is most commonly used in domestic properties. For the purposes of the rest of this piece, we will use the term “heating oil” to mean kerosene.
    • Gas oil (also known as “red diesel” or “35 second oil”) tends to be used in commercial buildings or to fuel machinery.
  • There is also a sub-type of kerosene called “premium kerosene”, which contains heating oil additives that can help the oil to burn as efficiently as possible.
  • Heating oil does not require a connection to a central grid, making it the ideal choice for very rural properties or even for those trying to live as “off-grid” a lifestyle as possible.
  • Rather than being delivered by a grid connection, heating oil has to be stored on a property in a suitable central heating oil tank. These tanks can be bought from domestic heating oil suppliers and, for those concerned about the aesthetics of where a tank is placed, can be buried underground.
  • The stored oil must be replenished as per the needs of the household. A heating oil tank gauge can help you keep track of how much fuel you have in your tank.
  • Heating oil performs in the same manner as gas and electrical heating; generating heat through an oil central heating boiler and the use of radiators and keeping your family warm and comfortable all winter long.
  • Heating oil was found to be the second most common method of heating a property during winter, with 6% of respondents saying they use heating oil in their home.

The benefits of heating oil for rural properties

By far the most significant benefit of heating oil for rural properties is the fact a grid connection is not necessary. Not only does this ensure you are able to avoid expensive connection costs to the gas main network, but it can also give you greater control over your home heating. For example, in particularly bad weather that may interrupt power supplies, rural locations are often the last to be reconnected by major companies, who naturally focus primarily on the higher-population regions. With heating oil, you are in complete control of your supply, and can ensure you have enough oil on hand to see you through the worst of the weather rather than relying on a continual supply and maintenance from a national mains gas company.

There are other benefits to oil fired central heating too, including:

  • Great safety. Heating oil is a very safe means of keeping homes warm, with the risk of explosion or fire being extremely remote due to the fact it’s not combustible at room temperature.
  • Greater efficiency. Heating oil is an extremely clean-burning, efficient, cost-effective and readily available way of heating a property, which can help you to get the most from every penny you spend on fuel.
  • The ability to “buy low”. Gas and electricity prices fluctuate, but these fluctuations are largely irrelevant to consumers - no one can buy extra when the prices are low and capitalise on the reduction in price, for example. However, with heating oil, you do have more flexibility: if the price drops, then you can stock up while the costs are low.

In conclusion

While far from the best-known way of fuelling the heating in a property, heating oil is an excellent solution for those who want an affordable alternative to the more conventional options - and particularly for those living in rural spaces, or off-the-grid entirely.