Bit nervous about buying house with Oil heating and an immersion heater

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  • dunstonhdunstonh Forumite
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    QrizB said:
    Thank you, the seller of the house is quite elderly so possibly just something she has thought for decades without comparing.  She did say to me that other people had told her to get rid of the immersion heater and just use the oil boiler for heating the water instead, but she thinks it’s cheaper to use the immersion heater for that which is why she still has it.
    It's possible that if the seller lives alone, and if the HW tank is large, that it costs less to heat a fraction of the tank with the immersion than it would to heat the whole tank with electricity. But that's an edge case.
    More generally, even with oil pushing £1/litre (which is exceptionally high by historical standards), heat from an oil boiler will be approx. 1/3rd the cost of standard-rate mains electricity.

    The seller does live alone, and she said to me she usually just turns it on for 30 mins in the morning and uses that water for a shower and to do the dishes so you could be right 🙂
    To be honest, having the boiler timer for water on for 30 minutes in the morning is probably more than it needs if the tank is well insulated.  So, in reality, if you proceed, you are probably better sticking to the oil boiler doing it rather than the immersion heater.

    But to repeat what has already been said on the thread, you are looking at comparing two methods of heating your water where the cost between them is so small that it really isn't worth the worry.

    The oil boiler should have a timer to set your heating and water (timers are usually independent of each other).  Whereas the immersion heaters are usually a switch on/off.   So, the potential to turn the immersion heater on and leave it running longer than necessary exists and/or it would require you to remember to switch it on for 15-20 minutes and you may forget.   So boiler timer would be easier.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). The comments I make are just my opinion and are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice and you should not treat them as such. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
  • t1redmonkeyt1redmonkey Forumite
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    Yes, if I do complete on this property then I will just use the oil boiler for everything I think (based on what has been said in this thread), and just use the immersion heater as a backup if needed.
  • mumfmumf Forumite
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    I am I am late to the party here. Our hot water is produced via immersion heater. It has a digital timer on it,so can be controlled very easily.
  • Section62Section62 Forumite
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    Yes, if I do complete on this property then I will just use the oil boiler for everything I think (based on what has been said in this thread), and just use the immersion heater as a backup if needed.
    In the winter when you need space heating it definitely makes sense to use the oil boiler for heating your hot water.

    But in the summer it isn't as clear cut as some posters have suggested - particularly if you only use a very small amount of hot water and have a well insulated hot water cylinder.

    Someone mentioned heat-loss from the pipes from the boiler to the hot water cylinder, but you also have heat loss from the volume of circulation water which is still hot at the end of the heating period, and the heat retained and subsequently lost from the boiler itself.  People quote staggeringly high efficiencies of boilers, but never the efficiency of the system.

    They also neglect the cost of electricity to run the boiler, the circulation pump, and all the control circuits.  And also neglect the cost of wear and tear and maintenance.

    In the summer, when you don't need central heating, and heat lost from the boiler and pipework isn't doing anything useful, you may find it cheaper to heat your water using an immersion heater if you are only using a small amount per day.  These can be run from a timer, so there shouldn't be a risk of leaving it on too long - and if the immersion heater's thermostat is correctly set then it would switch off anyway once the water is at the right temperature.  If you have Economy 7 electricity then the cost of running an immersion heater at night will be cheaper still.

    It is still a good idea to run the boiler for a short time at least once a week through the summer, but doing that compared to 14 times per week will - in many cases - reduce wear and tear on the system.  Check the boiler manufacturer's instructions for guidance on infrequent operation though.

    Also, actually using the immersion heater periodically (rather than disconnected and never used) will help confirm that it actually works... there would be nothing worse than having an emergency (boiler breakdown/running out of oil) and then finding out the immersion heater doesn't work.

    As a general rule, if someone says something is a "no brainer" then I'm immediately sceptical.  My own parents have an oil boiler and an immersion heater. In the summer they sometimes only use the immersion.  I've done checks on the electrical and oil consumption and for their situation the immersion heater works out cheaper.  The vendor of the property you are looking at could be right that it is cheaper for her too.  You'll only know for sure once you've moved in and started checking the numbers yourself... don't assume the generalisations offered on a forum like this are definitely 'right' in your situation. Experiment a bit and find out what suits your living arrangements the best.
  • t1redmonkeyt1redmonkey Forumite
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    @Section62 Also good points actually, since I am the type to never use the central heating at all from about April to October usually.  Definitely something to experiment with I guess.  
  • edited 14 May at 2:26PM
    ccluedoccluedo Forumite
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    edited 14 May at 2:26PM
    In normal times oil is generally cheaper in the summer and best time to fill the tank. Whilst there is a chance that oil prices may move back down, it could be a while before electricity does.  

    In addition, I prefer to use the boiler for hot water in summer to keep the boiler ticking over, and the immersion purely for emergency backup.
     
    As said by others above, nothing to be nervous about and u will soon discover what suits u best given your circumstances, needs and equipment when u are actually using it.  Keeping an eye on tank level v prices is important I think to minimise cost - as is an annual boiler service by an oil qualified engineer!

    Good luck!

  • canaldumidicanaldumidi Forumite
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    If you have an electric shower, and a kettle for doing the washing up, why heat up a whole cylinderful oof hot water?
    If you do heat the cylinder(either from the boiler or the immersian), make sure it is well insulated. Even if it is a modern one with built-in insulation, adding a cheap 'jacket' will keep your hot water hot for .... 24? 48 hours.
  • t1redmonkeyt1redmonkey Forumite
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    If you have an electric shower, and a kettle for doing the washing up, why heat up a whole cylinderful oof hot water?
    If you do heat the cylinder(either from the boiler or the immersian), make sure it is well insulated. Even if it is a modern one with built-in insulation, adding a cheap 'jacket' will keep your hot water hot for .... 24? 48 hours.
    No electric shower there at the moment, just a standard one, but it is something I was thinking of adding after I move in :smile:
  • edited 15 May at 1:02PM
    dunstonhdunstonh Forumite
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    edited 15 May at 1:02PM
    If you have an electric shower, and a kettle for doing the washing up, why heat up a whole cylinderful oof hot water?
    If you do heat the cylinder(either from the boiler or the immersian), make sure it is well insulated. Even if it is a modern one with built-in insulation, adding a cheap 'jacket' will keep your hot water hot for .... 24? 48 hours.
    No electric shower there at the moment, just a standard one, but it is something I was thinking of adding after I move in :smile:
    A single person who does a quick shower with little water use may be better on an electric shower.  A family drawing a lot of water in a short period would probably be better with a power shower.   

    If you are heating the tank anyway for hot water on the taps, then heating that AND using an electric shower would increase your cost.  A power shower would probably be better. 

    I went with a power shower as I am in a household of women who have no concept of using as little water as possible!
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). The comments I make are just my opinion and are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice and you should not treat them as such. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
  • ispookie666ispookie666 Forumite
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    Congratulation on the offer acceptance and hope everything goes smoothly.  
    We moved roughly 1.5 years to this house which has an oil boiler.  I got a heating engineer to check out the boiler to make sure it was in working order, as we were moving in winter.   
    We did replace the boiler 8 months after moving in  (Old one was Mylan boiler roughly 40 years old!) and have definitely noticed a big drop in kerosene consumption.  

    Most of the oil boilers cannot modulate like gas boilers and they have to cycle.  
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