Home heating systems LPG central heating
Some households use liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to heat their homes if they're not connected to mains gas. The main difference between mains gas and LPG central heating is that LPG is delivered by road and stored in a tank, which you may have to buy or rent from your supplier.
If you're one of the 4 million households that aren't connected to mains gas and you use LPG, then you need to read on. We reveal the annual cost of heating your home using LPG, and the pros and cons of LPG central heating. Plus our experts recommend alternatives to heating your home.
How LPG central heating works
LPG central heating is normally used in a ‘wet’ heating system where an LPG-fired boiler heats water, which provides central heating through radiators and hot water through the taps in your home.
Some boilers designed for mains gas can be converted to use LPG.
Annual cost of LPG
The average annual cost for heating and hot water using LPG in the UK is £798 when consuming around 12,500 kWh a year.
This annual fuel cost is not based on actual fuel bills. It's derived from using the average cost of LPG across the UK in January 2016, sourced by Sutherland Tables, which collects domestic fuel pricing data. This cost (per kWh in pence) is then multiplied by the amount of kWh a medium gas energy user consumes on average in a year (13,500 kWh), as calculated by Ofgem.
Remember, this cost is just a guide to help you compare costs of different types of fuel. There are a number of factors that affect energy bills, including the age of a house and insulation, the efficiency of a hot water and heating system, and where you are in the UK.
Our guide to cutting your energy costs will help you to see where and how you can make changes to save money, no matter what type of heating system you have.
You can also use our free energy switching service, Which? Switch, to see how much you could save on our energy bills.
Pros of LPG central heating
The price of LPG has generally been on of the highest when compared to the price of heating oil or gas, but in the last year the price has dropped - in January 2015 the average annual bill was around £1,040.
LPG is a highly efficient fuel, so you get a good return on every unit of energy. Modern condensing boilers, which use hot flue gases that are wasted in a standard boiler, now achieve efficiencies of 90% and more.
Replacing a standard LPG boiler with a highly-efficient modern condensing boiler is a relatively straightforward job. See our boiler reviews area for models from Which? Best Buy brands. It's also worth making sure you have good home heating controls - take a look at our heating control money-saving tips.
Which? members can find details of plumbers in their local area that have been recommended by other Which? members at Which Local.
Cons of LPG central heating
Although prices have dropped in the last year, LPG prices are likely to remain relatively high compared to other fuels as the UK competes with growing demand from other countries.
The Office of Fair Trading investigated the off-grid energy market following sharp price rises in winter 2010 but concluded that the market did not need price regulation. You can read more about the market probe in our story: Heating oil homes to face another hard winter?.
As LPG is delivered by road there is a possibility that you could run out while you wait for your next delivery. However, systems that monitor the amount in your tank and automatically notify your supplier when it needs topping up are available.
Installing an LPG central heating system from scratch can be expensive and disruptive. The storage tank can also be unsightly (although this can be resolved by choosing an underground tank).
LPG boilers need servicing annually to ensure they run efficiently and last as long as they should do.
As a fossil fuel, LPG produces carbon dioxide when it’s burned and so isn't considered a clean source of energy.
You could consider installing a renewable heating system, such as water-heating solar thermal panels or a heat pump. An incentive scheme called the Renewable Heat Incentive, launched in 2013, pays householders for generating their own heat.