One of the first things you’ll need to know is which fuel options are available for your off-grid plot and which best fits your lifestyle.
You might be fortunate enough to have a mains gas supply close by and the National Grid may be able to connect your home. However, the costs can run to hundreds or even thousands of pounds and the installation can often be quite time consuming and disruptive, so you might need to consider alternatives.
Some of your neighbours’ homes may be fuelled by oil, but you might prefer not to have a bulky tank in the garden and would perhaps like to find a fuel that’s better for the environment too.
Renewable energy is an option, but you may feel slightly wary about planning your home’s heating system solely around a technology that is dependent on the weather.
With an LPG (liquid petroleum gas) heating system you can have all the conveniences of mains gas, off-grid – and it’s affordable, secure and reliable too. It can also be a great partner fuel for renewable energy, working with hybrid heat pump systems to provide a back-up fuel supply during the colder, winter months.
From central heating to hot water, gas fires to cooking, LPG is really versatile. It can even fuel a tumble dryer, so you’ve got far more choices when it comes to planning your new kitchen – and you don’t have to think about using other fuels, such as electric, to cook with.
Once you’ve chosen your fuel type, you will need to think carefully about the efficiency of your heating system, especially when it comes to the SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) rating of your home.
Typically, the more efficient you can make your property, the easier it is to have the build signed off – and this is where LPG can help. It has a better SAP rating than oil or electricity so you may not need to install additional renewable technologies to help improve the rating.
You will also need to consider all of the ‘lifetime ownership’ costs involved – the cost of the equipment, the installation, and the ongoing maintenance.
It is recommended that boilers should be replaced every 10 to 15 years and with LPG boilers costing on average £900 less to buy than an oil model, they can help you save on your fixtures and fittings’ costs. What’s more, oil boilers tend to have more soot build-up than LPG boilers, so may need more maintenance and servicing over time to keep them running efficiently.
A new oil tank could cost up to £2000 to buy, plus installation costs, and you will also need adequate insurance in place should your tank leak and cause any environmental damage.
With LPG, the cost of boiler and tank installation and maintenance may be significantly less. For example, with Calor, when switching from any fuel type, an above ground gas tank is installed free of charge, including delivery and connection of the pipework to your home.
For a small monthly payment, most LPG suppliers retain ownership of the tank too, which means they will insure it and take care of any repairs or maintenance.
If you would prefer to have the tank hidden from view, an underground tank is a great option. Or, if you would like a smaller supply just for cooking, or have limited outside space, a four-pack cylinder installation provides a compact alternative.
Finally, don’t forget to think about your heating controls to make sure you’re running your new home as efficiently as possible.
Many of the latest smart heating controls are compatible with LPG boilers – take for example the Nest Learning Thermostat, available from Calor, which is designed to adapt your home’s temperature to your behaviour.
By monitoring your habits – such as what time you leave the house on weekdays – Nest is able to create a personalised heating schedule tailored to you. The aim is for the device to know so much about your habits that you’ll never have to change the temperature by hand – it even allows you to control your heating remotely from your mobile phone!
So, it’s clear to see that with an LPG system you get all the versatility and reliability of mains gas and value for money when it comes to ‘lifetime ownership’ costs.