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

I've had an offer accepted on a house I like, however it has oil powered central heating and an immersion heater for the water.  I've only ever lived in houses with gas central heating and no seperate water tanks.  

I am a bit worried about the ban on oil boilers in 2025.  I know that is meant to be for new builds only, but then part of me is thinking because there's a partial ban on them, it might be harder to source oil or get a replacement boiler after that comes in. 

Also I've read that it is much more expensive to run oil central heating than gas central heating, is that right?  The one good thing I can think of with oil though is you don't have the standing charge like you do with gas, so maybe if you don't use the heating that much then it can work out cheaper?

I also don't really understand how immersion heaters are meant to work, and a bit confused why this house has the oil boiler AND an immersion heater.  The vendor told me it's cheaper to use the immersion heater to heat water than it is to use the boiler, is that right?  For those with immersion heaters, is it a massive hassle to 'schedule' when you want to heat water up?  Like I said, I'm used to having hot water on demand.

Thanks in advance to anyone that can calm my fears! :smile:
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Replies

  • annabanana82annabanana82 Forumite
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    I've used oil for over 10 years, the price does fluctuate a fair bit but i don't find it too expensive. WRT new builds I'd imagine the number that would have had oil CH would be quite minimal 
  • BUFFBUFF Forumite
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    do you know how old/efficient the boiler is? Do you know what type of hot water tank it is?
    I would be surprised if the immerser is cheaper to heat the dhw than the boiler but it could be depending upon exactly what the system is.
  • t1redmonkeyt1redmonkey Forumite
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    BUFF said:
    do you know how old/efficient the boiler is? Do you know what type of hot water tank it is?
    I would be surprised if the immerser is cheaper to heat the dhw than the boiler but it could be depending upon exactly what the system is.
    No to both, I guess I’ll find out in some of the documents during the conveyancing process.  I did see one of those energy efficiency stickers on the oil boilers cupboard but didn’t take note of what the rating was on there.
  • Reed_RichardsReed_Richards Forumite
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    Historically oil has been a more expensive heating fuel than gas, but not massively so.  In future who knows?

    It would be very surprising if the hot water cylinder could not be heated by the oil boiler and that would be less expensive than using the immersion heater unless electricity is on an Economy 7 and the immersion heater is only on during the cheap rate night period.  Even then I'm not sure it would be cheaper; it might have been some years ago.
    Reed
  • Twixty3Twixty3 Forumite
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    Last August I bought 900 litres of oil for around £500+  or so and I’m still using it just for hot water at the moment as it’s not cold enough to put the heating on.  I have never  bought more than 900 litres a year yet and the system in my current house is quite old. I normally still have some oil in the tank when I top up.  

    900 litres would be £872 now ( I just checked)

    I have had oil heating in my last 3 homes and have found it to be reliable. I may have to consider something else when this system fails (preferably before that) as it is old.  

    You should be able to find  a heating engineer who could adapt your system to include heating the water if you do not wish to use the immersion.  

    It is also cheaper to convert an oil system to gas as opposed to gas installation from scratch if needs be at some point if the pipe work and radiators etc. are sound.  

    Immersion heaters can be set to come on using a timer for whatever suits your needs.   I suspect oil works out cheaper to heat the water depending on what your annual oil use would be I suppose.  Everyone’s use is different. 
  • t1redmonkeyt1redmonkey Forumite
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    Historically oil has been a more expensive heating fuel than gas, but not massively so.  In future who knows?

    It would be very surprising if the hot water cylinder could not be heated by the oil boiler and that would be less expensive than using the immersion heater unless electricity is on an Economy 7 and the immersion heater is only on during the cheap rate night period.  Even then I'm not sure it would be cheaper; it might have been some years ago.
    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.  There is no economy 7 electricity in the house.
  • t1redmonkeyt1redmonkey Forumite
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    Twixty3 said:


    Last August I bought 900 litres of oil for around £500+  or so and I’m still using it just for hot water at the moment as it’s not cold enough to put the heating on.  I have never  bought more than 900 litres a year yet and the system in my current house is quite old. I normally still have some oil in the tank when I top up.  

    900 litres would be £872 now ( I just checked)

    I have had oil heating in my last 3 homes and have found it to be reliable. I may have to consider something else when this system fails (preferably before that) as it is old.  

    You should be able to find  a heating engineer who could adapt your system to include heating the water if you do not wish to use the immersion.  

    It is also cheaper to convert an oil system to gas as opposed to gas installation from scratch if needs be at some point if the pipe work and radiators etc. are sound.  

    Immersion heaters can be set to come on using a timer for whatever suits your needs.   I suspect oil works out cheaper to heat the water depending on what your annual oil use would be I suppose.  Everyone’s use is different. 
    That’s impressive, have you gone the whole winter without turning the heating on at all? 

    The oil boiler she has can heat the water, she showed me a type of electronic display thing next to the boiler (first time I had seen that sort of thing) and showed me she had disabled the facility for the boiler to heat the water since she prefers using the immersion heater for that, but said it could just be enabled again using that device if I wanted to.
  • Twixty3Twixty3 Forumite
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    Ha! No.

    I’ve been working from home since March 2020. We like our baths and warmth but heating is mainly on from 6-9pm only and more at weekends/when it really cold.  I never have it on in the early morning. 

    What I will sometimes do during the summer though is just use the electric shower and boil the kettle to wash the dishes when not using the dishwasher.  

    What you may not like about immersion /oil heated water is if the tank is not large or well insulated one may have to wait for a while, 1 hour maybe , to have a bath after someone else  else has just had a nice, hot deep soak.   
     

  • edited 12 May at 10:22AM
    Ebe_ScroogeEbe_Scrooge Forumite
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    edited 12 May at 10:22AM
    In a "conventional" setup, it's common to have the boiler which can heat the water and/or the central heating, and an immersion heater as a backup in case the boiler goes kaput.  The electronic programmer should allow you to set different times for the central heating and the water heating to fire up.  For instance, you might want the water to come on at 6:00am for an hour or so, so that you have a tankful ready for morning showers, then again for an hour at 5:00pm so that you've got another tankful ready for the kids to have baths before bed (obviously it depends on your circumstances and your routine!).  Then the central heating can be programmed for different times - during the day if you're at home, or just mornings and evenings if you're out at work during the day.
    Assuming your hot water tank is well-insulated, it will stay hot for many hours after it's been heated.  It'll be far cheaper to use the boiler to heat the water, and just keep the immersion as a backup in case of boiler problems.  You can use the immersion as a quick "boost" if you've run out of hot water at some point in the day - though even having said that, if you flick the programmer to fire up the hot water, you'll have enough for most purposes within half an hour.
    Oil has usually been the "next-best" option if no mains gas is available, in terms of cost.  Having said that, I really don't think there's much in it these days.
    You're right in that there's no standing charge, so that's a bonus of oil.  Plus you get to shop around each time you fill up, which can be a big bonus.  There's a kind of "hidden standing charge" if you want to look at it that way - the oil tank itself.  Tanks don't last forever, and will need replacing at some point.  Must admit I don't know what the average life-span is, but ours is 15 years old and still in fine fettle.  It's nothing to fret about particularly, but just something to bear in mind.  And if you work it out, I'm willing to bet that the cost of a replacement tank every (let's say) 20 years is still cheaper than the standing charge you'd otherwise pay.
    Anyhow, hope this helps.
    I may not know much about art, but I know what I like.
  • edited 12 May at 11:42AM
    dunstonhdunstonh Forumite
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    edited 12 May at 11:42AM
    I am a bit worried about the ban on oil boilers in 2025.  I know that is meant to be for new builds only, but then part of me is thinking because there's a partial ban on them, it might be harder to source oil or get a replacement boiler after that comes in. 
    Are you worried about gas boilers in the same way?
    Oil boilers are likely to be retained long after gas boilers have been banned (or converted).   The reason is that most oil users are rural properties that don't have the choice and many of which would not work with heat pumps.

    Also I've read that it is much more expensive to run oil central heating than gas central heating, is that right? 
    No.  On average, over the long term, it is a little more expensive, but there will be peaks and troughs when it's cheaper than gas and more expensive than gas.  Sometimes quite significantly.  i.e. 4 years ago you got to 61p a litre then it fell to around 20p a litre before going back to 61p in January this year and then heading to £1 a litre a couple of months ago back to around 90p currently.

    I fill up with 3000 litres a year. 3x 1000 litres around January, March, and November.   So, you pay as you buy.   Whatever your level of use over the year, those fill up months broadly reflect the scale of use you will have.  i.e. You use bucket loads between November and March and barely anything from April to October.   

     The one good thing I can think of with oil though is you don't have the standing charge like you do with gas, so maybe if you don't use the heating that much then it can work out cheaper?
    It perhaps focuses the mind more on your use when you are filling it up when it is needed.  Rather than having it on tap all of the time.    Many properties on oil also have wood burners as that can take reduce cost.  A well-positioned wood burner with decent airflow in the house can stop many radiators from coming on.  Plus, in Spring and Autumn, you can run the burner rather than the radiators.  In our area (where everyone is oil or lpg), you would be hard pushed to find a house without at least one woodburner.  Most have multiple burners.

    The vendor told me it's cheaper to use the immersion heater to heat water than it is to use the boiler, is that right?
    Not unless there are solar panels or other self-generation sources on site.   To be honest, heating the water with oil fired boiler barely uses any oil over the year.   Between May and September, when our oil heating is turned off, the oil barely drops

    We have an immersion heater for emergency use.  It has only been used once in 4 years when the boiler was being serviced (turned off the night before)

    Like I said, I'm used to having hot water on demand.
    As are people with oil boilers or immersion heaters.  It won't change your lifestyle by having a water tank that is heated unless your use of hot water is bigger than your hot water tank or you cut back the timer on the water heating too much.

    The oil boiler she has can heat the water, she showed me a type of electronic display thing next to the boiler (first time I had seen that sort of thing) and showed me she had disabled the facility for the boiler to heat the water since she prefers using the immersion heater for that, but said it could just be enabled again using that device if I wanted to.
    That is probably the control panel for the boiler.   Water and heating will have independent timers and on/off settings.  Pretty similar to gas fired boilers.  You don't need as long to heat the water tank.

    Controlling the oil boiler is pretty much the same as controlling a gas boiler.  Unless you were on a combi previously (but they have disadvantages too and people adapt).

    There is nothing to fear from being on oil.  Just a small learning period about your use.  Having an apollo 10 bar sonic meter makes your life easier (and use a broom handle/cane in the early years to learn how the meter matches up with the depth).  Once you know your usage and that the monitor is reliable you will be fine (some tanks are weird shapes and not straight lines and each bar may not be the same amount).


    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.
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