The latest quarterly data from the Sutherland Tables, the recognised independent source of comparative UK domestic heating costs, has revealed that oil is the only primary heating fuel that has come down in price over the past three years.
The current annual cost of using oil to heat a three bedroom home in Great Britain is now 5% lower than the average cost reported over the last three years, whereas the same average figures for homes using gas and electricity show an increase in heating costs of 14% and 16.5% respectively.
The price difference between gas (by far the most widely used fuel) and oil (used an estimated one million off-grid households) has narrowed significantly. Three years ago oil was nearly 60% more expensive than mains gas but now it is just over 12% more expensive, based on using a condensing boiler.
LPG, used by some 170,000 off-grid households, remains the most expensive fuel, costing a three bedroom home with a condensing boiler £1,923 per annum compared to oil at £1,275 and gas at £1,136.
Directly comparing the price of heating a three bedroom home in January 2011 to January 2014 provides an even starker result and shows that electricity has seen the greatest price increase over the last three years at 38.89%. Similarly, gas prices have increased by 37.3% and solid fuels by 26.1% respectively, whereas in comparison, the price of oil has decreased by 2.18%.
The substantial increase in electricity prices is especially notable as it means that renewable technologies such as air source (ASHP) and ground source (GSHP) heat pumps which run on electricity are becoming a much more expensive option to heat a typical home in Britain.
Jeremy Hawksley, Director General of OFTEC, said: “This is very welcome news for the estimated one million households that use oil to heat their homes which, as the data shows, have benefited from relatively consistent heating costs over the past three years and are currently experiencing a small decrease in prices.
“With the global oil markets stabilising and the supply of oil improving, we expect prices between heating oil and gas to continue to narrow – however, only time will tell on this.”
Oil users also have the advantage of choosing when to buy their oil, such as during summer months when prices are often lower, as well as purchasing through oil buying syndicates to secure more competitive prices. The figures also show that a modern condensing boiler can reduce annual running costs by an average of £284.