LPG user, elderly parent, how to minimise cost

I understand that LPG supply of gas via large tank in the garden does not come under the governments energy price cap. My elderly mother (78) is worried as she has a gas boiler linked to a large tank for hot water and her heating. 

She is of the mind short term to buy some electric radiators for heating, but other than boiling a kettle for hot water she is unsure what to do for hot water. 

I've suggested the following options, but she's reluctant for change - I've tried explaining this issue is not going away. (She lives in largish 3 bed bungalow). 

1. Contact Gas supplier and say that she doesn't require gas and will use up current tank around 75% full and good for 5 months as this is already paid for. 
2. Install a heat pump for hot water and heating - yes upfront cost, but one use of energy
3. Swap out the gas hob for induction hob

I also suggested solar panels to help offset the electricity, but she's says they look ugly (this is for context to help my reasoning with her). 

Thanks for any suggestions........

Jools


Comments

  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,707 Forumite
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    How long would it take her to recoup the money paid out for heat pumps and solar panels? 
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • Robin9
    Robin9 Posts: 12,095 Forumite
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    Jools70 said:
    ................., but other than boiling a kettle for hot water she is unsure what to do for hot water. 

    I've suggested the following options, but she's reluctant for change - I've tried explaining this issue is not going away. (She lives in largish 3 bed bungalow). 

    1. Contact Gas supplier and say that she doesn't require gas and will use up current tank around 75% full and good for 5 months as this is already paid for. 
    2. Install a heat pump for hot water and heating - yes upfront cost, but one use of energy
    3. Swap out the gas hob for induction hob

    I also suggested solar panels to help offset the electricity, but she's says they look ugly (this is for context to help my reasoning with her). 

    Thanks for any suggestions........

    Jools...................


    That's not a bad idea for the washing up.
    Never pay on an estimated bill
  • tacpot12
    tacpot12 Posts: 7,957 Forumite
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    Selling the bungalow and buying a property that was cheaper to heat would be one option. Moving home never gets easier, but if this is something that might make sense for other reasons, it could be a good solution for her. 

    But I assume she will want to stay where she is. My parents are in their eighties, and are not keen on moving even though their home is poorly insulated, and has a very old heating system. I've talked to them about the options to replace their heating system, and even offered to pay for it, but they find one excuse after another not to do anything. Their final argument is that they will not live long enough to get the financial benefit of improving their home's insulation or heating system. They are right about this, but I'm still concerned that they will be cold, despite paying a lot for their energy. I've talked to them about equity release as way of getting cash to pay inflated energy bills for rest of their life, but they are somewhat tied to the idea of "leaving a legacy".

    A Heat Pump could be a really bad idea for your Mum unless the bungalow is well insulated. It it isn't well insulated, the best option is to insulate the bungalow and rigerously block all sources of draughts (but don't block essential ventilation paths), and keep buying LPG, but less of it. This is expensive and disruptive work. If wall insuslation is applied on the insde walls, redecoration will be required, so it would make sense to consult your Mum as to when she last redecorated. If it was recently, she will be reluctant to have it redone, but it's just part of the cost of improving the insulation, and should not be considered a waste.  Insulating under the floor can require carpets to be refited, and once lifted they don't always go back perfectly. It's definitely worth hiring a carpet fitter to refit any fitted carpets if the floorboards have to be lifted to install insulation. Once the bungalow is property insulated, you could then look at a heat pump. Heatpump installations can require larger radiators, and in some cases, larger pipes. If the floors have to come up to install the insulation, replacing them with concrete and underfloor heating would also be an option, albeit expensive.

    Induction hobs need a lot of electricty. Often the cable to the hob needs to be upgraded, and this creates more need for redecoration. I would check carefully to see if an induction hob can save your mother any money.

    Water heating would be best done with a Combi boiler running on LPG. If your Mum's current boiler is more than 20 years old, it will be worth replacing it with a modern combi boiler, and losing the hot water tank. A modern boiler will be more efficient, especially if the insulation has been improved. Electric radiators only make sense, to my mind, for odd days when it isn't necessary to heat the whole house, i.e. spring and autum days that she is planning on spending the day in one room. 

    There are roof cassette systems available that allow solar panels to be installed level with the roof rather than above it. These reduce the extent that the solar panels look ugly to a very large degree, although I doubt your Mum will agree with me on this! The solar panels can be combined with a solar diverter that will use solar power to operate the immersion heater in her current hot water tank to provide all the hot water she needs for free most of the year. Solar panels are difficult to justify unless you have a hot water tank or a heat pump, or are prepared to also pay for a battery to store the electricty you generate until you need it. 

    In the short term, think I would try to get her to accept the idea of solar panels and insulating at least her bedroom and living room, and keep using her current LPG boiler and tank. 
    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • BUFF
    BUFF Posts: 2,185 Forumite
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    How much hot water does she actually use? Could she get by with a smaller hot water tank (related to this is does she bath or shower)?
    How old is her existing boiler & is it a condensing boiler?
    My understanding is that LPG is still cheaper for heating than electricity. 
  • thrope
    thrope Posts: 68 Forumite
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    edited 19 October 2022 at 10:38AM
    I am not sure about the premise of the question. It is important to understand that the "price cap" is a cap on the rate charged *per unit* of energy. It is not a cap on the price a household will pay over the year. You continue to pay for what you use. So what matters is the price per unit for the different sources. Electricity has been capped at something over 30p/kWh. So need to compare the price for LPG per kWh to this. Heat pump and solar panels have enormous up front costs that will take many years to recoup. So should think about that carefully.

    I don't know current LPG prices but I would be very surprised if they are more expensive than electric. So I don't think electric radiators make any sense, nor would using an electric immersion to heat hot water rather than LPG.

    There are 7kW in a litre of LPG. So you should take the price you pay per litre of LPG, divide by 7, and compare that to the electricity price (might be 34p/kWh under the cap). If you pay 42p/L for LPG (first price I found in the LPG thread, no idea if that is current) then that is:
    42 /7 = 6p per kWh.
    That is cheaper than the mains gas capped rate so would still be doing better than someone on mains gas.
    It is more than 5 times less than the capped electricity rate at ~34p/kWh.

    So I think the best thing is likely to be continue to use LPG, but taking steps to insulate, reduce drafts, check radiator thermostats etc.
  • Rodders53
    Rodders53 Posts: 2,149 Forumite
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    Mum should just buy more LPG and use it to heat the home and water assuming the price is not been extortionately increased by her supplier.

    Typically LPG users are in Contract with one supplier (with a standing charge for the tank) so find out what rate your Mum pays and do the sums.  Some contracts have fixed rates (with limited increases annually), others are variable rate.  Rarely, there is no contract and one can shop around for best price.
    It's also possible to switch LPG supplier in some circumstances.

    Even at 70p/litre LPG will be on par with current natural gas prices per kWh and far cheaper than electricity.  LPG has usually been more expensive than Natural gas.

    She will get the Winter Fuel Payment in November - increased this year - £500 or £250 if living with another qualifying pensioner and might cover a good portion of the fill cost?

    I am still using my kerosene oil purchased at 4.5p/kWh from last year and must order some soon but that'll be close to 10p/kWh.  The winter fuel payment will cover half my fill.






  • matelodave
    matelodave Posts: 8,606 Forumite
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    edited 19 October 2022 at 2:20PM
    As said above, do the sums. as you get around 7kwh to the litre then even at £1 a litre it would be costing you around 14p/kwh compared with electricity at 34.5p/kw. Changing to an induction hob would increase her cooking cost by 200-300% (and you'd have the cost of the hob and installation to take into account)

    A heatpump will not only cost somewhere like £10-15k to be installed but will cost around 34.5/3 = 11.5p/kwh to run. Assuming that it's been properly installed, commissioned and, most importantly, operated correctly. I'm not anti heatpump, I've had one for twelve years, but they are not cheaper to run than either oil or mains gas and just about on a par with LPG at around 80p/litre.

    TBH even if she was offered one for free I'd be a bit reluctant as it would be unlikely to save much if any money in the short term and if, as you say, she's elderly then she probably wouldn't live long enough to even see any benefit in the long term either.

    Even if you are considering solar panels, you really do need to see whether there's a realistic chance of getting a return on the capital outlay over the next few years - solar and heatpumps are really long term investments so you need to determine whether the initial outlay can break even within a reasonable time

    The £10,000  ost of a heatpump, invested in a building society could get you a return of around £400 a year at the moment




    Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large numbers
  • jamesg123
    jamesg123 Posts: 36 Forumite
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    edited 25 October 2022 at 10:05AM
    What type of LPG boiler? my suggestion if boiler old, then swap out boiler to a LPG condensing combi, some older boilers 50% efficiency new boilers 90% with lower flow rates (low and slow= best efficiency) and hot water on demand no unused hot water storage. 
    keep existing lpg tank negotiate a 2 yr contract hard with calor,flogas,avanti,local suppliers. 
    Boiler cost £700-£1400 + £700 install
    Lastly keep lpg hob cost savings over induction unless safety is a concern naked flame on lpg.. 

  • pinkteapot
    pinkteapot Posts: 8,039 Forumite
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    First job: Check when her contract is up (they're 2 years) and help her shop around and potentially switch supplier when she's out of contract, if she's not done this before.

    We're - for the first time - grateful to be on LPG rather than natural gas as our gas cost (per litre) has barely risen over the last 2 years where natural gas unit prices have shot up. 
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