10 Reasons why now is the time you made the switch from Oil to Gas

Natural Gas has now been available for consumers in Northern Ireland for 25 years and the gas network continues to grow.  The Phoenix Network is currently expanding in East Down bringing the benefits of gas to customers in towns such as Downpatrick, Ballynahinch, Newcastle, Castlewellan and Dundrum.  Meanwhile in the West of the province, SGN continue to expand their network to new parts of Strabane, Enniskillen and Cookstown.

To date just over 292,000 customers1 in Northern Ireland have made the switch to Natural Gas.  However, there remain approximately 230,000 properties in Northern Ireland which currently have access to the Natural Gas Network but are yet to make the switch.  If you live in one of these properties, in this article we look at 10 reasons why now is the time for you to swap Oil for Natural Gas.

1. Never Run Out

Picture the scene… It’s a dark, cold Winter’s night – the rain is coming down sideways and your heating has just stopped working.  You have to put on your coat, go out to try and find the brush shaft and dip the Oil Tank – and yep, you have ran out of Oil again.  At best, it’s a frantic search for a supplier who can get you a fill quickly.  At worst, sludge from the bottom of your tank has got into your system, and it’s an expensive repair.

Anyone who has had at one time had Oil central heating knows the above scenario all too well.  If you make the change to Natural Gas you can make this a thing of the past.  Natural Gas provides you with a constant supply meaning you will never need to worry about remembering to order fuel again.

2. Kinder to the Environment

Our impact on the environment is becoming more of a concern to all of us and we all want to reduce our carbon footprint as much as we can.  Switching from Oil to Natural Gas can help you make a real impact in reducing your own carbon footprint significantly.

Natural Gas is much kinder to the environment than Oil – and by switching your home heating from Oil to Natural Gas you can immediately reduce your Carbon Emissions by as much as 48%.  On average, by converting from Oil to Natural Gas a typical household will reduce their CO2 emissions by around 4 tonnes per year.2 For context, this is a bigger carbon saving than the average driver would make by switching from a petrol car to an EV.3

In addition, by connecting to the gas network you are connecting to a fuel network which is likely to get even cleaner over the coming years.  All of the gas distribution networks here are actively working on facilitating the use of the existing natural gas network to distribute llower-emissionfuel.  This is likely to initially be via a blend of natural gas and bio-methane / hydrogen which can eventually transition to full zero-carbon bio-methane or hydrogen.

In their recent blog4 on the energy transition in Northern Ireland, the Energy Savings Trust commented that in NI  “The limited and modern gas network and the huge potential for wind generation across Ireland mean that there is more potential…to produce green hydrogen to feed into the gas network (than in any other part of UK)”

Most major gas boiler manufacturers (Worcester Bosch, Ideal, Baxi) currently offer ranges which are equipped to run on a 20%/80% Hydrogen / Natural Gas blend – so the new natural gas boiler you have fitted now will last you through the next stage of the journey to net zero.

3. It is affordable to convert to Natural Gas

Converting your home from Oil to Natural Gas will not cost you the earth.

The average cost of converting from Oil to Natural Gas is between £2,500 and £3,000.  By comparison, if you were thinking about replacing your existing 15 year-old Oil boiler with a new oil boiler – it could cost you a similar amount if you wanted to ensure your Oil system was up to current standards.

Changes in Building Control and Fires Safety Regulations mean customers wanting to replace existing Oil systems often need to relocate their Oil Tanks and install expensive fire-barrier walls.  Indeed, if your Oil Tank was old and also needed to be replaced – the total cost of your replacement Oil system is likely to be more than the cost of converting to Natural Gas.  If you were considering moving from Oil to Electric Heat Pump, the cost of conversion is going to be significantly higher.  Installing a new electric heat pump system is likely to cost at least £10,000.

With Natural Gas, there is also a number of forms of assistance on offer to help you fund the cost of conversion.  Your local gas distribution Network (Phoenix Natural Gas, Firmus Energy or SGN) will have full details of the current offers available in your area. These change regularly so you should check their websites for full details.  However typical offers have included 0% Finance, Cashback, Home Movers Grant and Over 65’s Grant.

In addition there are a number of government and public funded grant schemes which can help those on lower incomes to convert from Oil to Natural Gas.  These include the Affordable Warmth Scheme (AWS) which offers a grant to cover the full cost of conversion and the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme (NISEP) which offers a mix of Fully-Funded and Part Funded Grants.

For more information on (AWS) check the Northern Ireland Housing Executive website https://www.nihe.gov.uk/Housing-Help/Affordable-Warmth-Boiler-Replacement  .  For details on the NISEP Schemes currently available check out the list of schemes on the Utility Regulator website NISEP List of Schemes 2021-22.

4. You could get a cheaper rate on your mortgage

As moving from Oil to Natural Gas improves your home’s energy efficiency, it will often result in an improvement in your home’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating. This is particularly true when conversion to natural gas heating is combined with improved insulation measures.

Many mortgage lenders are now offering preferential rates to homeowners whose properties have the highest EPC ratings.  For example, here in Northern Ireland Danske Bank recently became the first bank in the UK to launch a mortgage product which is certified as carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust. Customers in Northern Ireland that take out this mortgage product will be rewarded for owning a greener home by being offered Danske’s lowest mortgage rates as well as being eligible for Cashback of up to £2,000.  To qualify for the product, customers must take out their mortgage on a home which has a high energy-efficiency rating of A-C.

This follows on from AIB who last year launched their “Green Mortgage” product.  This product offers homeowners with energy efficient homes access to AIB’s lowest mortgage rates – with initial fixed rates as low as 1.79% available.  It is open to homeowners with an EPC of A or B.

5. Save space in your home and your garden

By fitting a natural gas combination boiler you can remove your cumbersome water storage cylinder and costly immersion heater. This could, for example, give you the additional space in your bathroom needed to enable you to install a new walk-in shower.   A natural gas combination boiler will heat your home as well as give you instantaneous hot water, meaning you will use less energy and save money.

With Natural Gas, your home will be connected directly to the gas mains, so you will no longer require bulky, unappealing storage tanks in your garden. The precious space gained can be developed into something more useful, such as parking, or perhaps a barbecue and patio area for summer dining.

6. Instant Heat

Your home becomes warm and cosy in an instant with a new high efficient gas boiler – much quicker than you would be used to with your existing Oil system.  Also, if you have a natural gas combination boiler fitted it will heat your home as well as give you instantaneous hot water.  This is convenient as well as meaning you will use less energy and save money.

7. More Efficient

Converting your old Oil Boiler to Natural Gas will make your home much more energy efficient.  A 15-year old boiler is typically 60% efficient compared to a new ‘A’ rated natural gas boiler which works at over 90% efficiency.  These gains in energy efficiency could again be enhanced further by installing loft and/or cavity wall insulation at the same time as converting to natural gas.

8. Flexible Payment on your fuel bills

You no longer need to worry about lump sum payments.  There are monthly or quarterly payment options for natural gas, or the possibility to pay-as-you-go in your home if you opt for a pay-as-you-go meter.

9. Adaptable

Natural gas is not just for central heating. It can be used for cooking and many other applications including tumble drying, focal point fires, instantaneous water heaters and barbecues.

10. Constant Hot Water

No more costly immersion heaters or fights for the shower – natural gas gives you a constant supply of hot water when you need it.

If any or all of the 10 points above have convinced you that now really is the time to switch to Natural Gas, you will need someone to install your new natural gas system – and that is where we at Refresh come in!

Refresh are an installer which offers the highest quality Oil to Natural Gas conversions completed by a knowledgeable, experienced and friendly team.  We offer the most professional service in the market at a great value price and we offer the highest levels of customer care and support.

Trust Refresh NI to deliver your affordable, greener home heating solution.

If you would like us to arrange for our surveyor to visit you for a free, no obligation quote – please contact us now on 02890 993 485 or by e-mail at info@refreshni.com.

1These figures have been taken from the Utility Regulator’s Retail Market Monitoring Quarterly Transparency Report, Quarter 1: January  – March 2021, published 28 May 2021 2021.

2This figure is based upon data taken from NISEP Scheme Submission Spreadsheet Template 2021/22

3This is based upon information taken from https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/roadtransportandairemissions/2019-09-16