Confusion over government’s rural heating policy could put off rural homebuyers

Confusion over government’s rural heating policy could put off rural homebuyers

Tuesday, July 04, 2023 By OFTEC

Confusion over government’s rural heating policy could put off rural homebuyers

Mixed messaging from the UK Government about its plans to transition rural properties to green heating systems could put off homebuyers in rural areas who are worried about further costs after purchasing a new property.

Currently, approximately 1.5 million households in England rely on oil to heat their homes. When it published its 2021 Heat and Buildings Strategy, the government put forward proposals to phase out the installation of new fossil fuel boilers from 2026, with most expected to install a heat pump if their boiler is replaced.

What is less clear is that these proposals are only at the consultation stage and there is no suggestion oil heated homes would have to remove their working boilers. The government is yet to publish its response to the off-gas heating consultation, but many commentators consider the proposals unfair and unworkable. The delay in the response is adding to the uncertainty for homebuyers and homeowners.
In response, OFTEC has issued guidance for rural home buyers to help ease confusion around the green heating proposals and what they could mean for rural homes like theirs.

Malcolm Farrow of OFTEC said: “Buying a house is both an exciting and nervous time for individuals and families. In the current economic climate, it’s very understandable that homebuyers want to be sure they won’t face any additional costs once they have settled into a new home. That’s why it’s so important to emphasise that there is no ban on boilers in place.”

The advice from OFTEC comes as new figures released by the ONS* reveal that two in three adults (65%) in Great Britain are cutting back on their spending in response to the cost of living crisis.

Malcolm added: “In order to meet net zero targets in the UK, all homes will of course need to transition to low carbon heating in the future. Heat pumps have a very important role to play, but many oil heated properties aren’t suited to the technology unless other expensive and disruptive changes are made which could include new radiators, added insulation and a new hot water tank.”

“However, buyers looking to purchase a home in a rural area should be relieved to hear that plans are being prepared to offer these households to a practical and affordable low carbon alternative - a renewable liquid fuel called Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO). This means households could keep their boiler but simply switch the fuel they are using following a minor modification. All new boilers are expected to be ‘HVO ready’.”

Around 150 oil heated properties across the UK from homes, pubs, schools to churches have been using the renewable liquid fuel Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) for the past two years as part of a nationwide demonstration project led by trade associations OFTEC and UKIFDA.

Converting to HVO takes just a few hours with an estimated cost of around £500 per property. As a result, emissions are immediately reduced by 88%. The fuel is sustainably sourced and research shows there is more than enough supply to meet demand.

OFTEC is currently working with the heating industry to secure government support for a wider roll out of renewable liquid fuels like HVO across the UK and is inviting oil users to write to their MP and urge them to back the proposals.

Further information about renewable liquid fuels and how to contact your MP can be found at


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