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December 12, 2013 Comment

Chopping the cost of heating oil

People living off the mains gas network often face considerable difficulty in keeping their homes warm. Evidence shows that rural households are twice as likely as their urban counterparts to struggle to afford to heat their homes, due to lower than average incomes and houses that are less energy efficient. Approximately 1.5 million households in the UK are reliant on oil as their primary source of heating. Spiraling gas and electricity prices have been hitting the headlines for weeks, but householders who rely on oil for their heating have seen their costs double in the past five years.

The average annual cost of oil used by the typical household has risen from around £800-900 five years ago to £1,375-1,500 today. This means an increase in costs far greater than those suffered by gas and electricity customers. Energy efficiency measures that reduce oil consumption are crucial to tackling these rising fuel costs.

Chopping is a radical new approach to heating control that saves householders an average of 16% on their heating bills. The concept is simple, backed up by some fundamental scientific principles, and has the potential to make a significant contribution to improving the efficiency of home heating.

The idea was born when inventor Garry Stewart grew frustrated by the almost constant call for heat from his boiler in his off-grid home in the Highlands. He decided to manually intervene by switching off for 30 minutes in each hour. His family didn’t notice any difference in the temperature but his boiler was doing a lot less work.

“My home has a 1200 litre heating oil tank. From experimenting with Chopping I was able to use it at a 35% slower rate. Chopping also gave me an extra 3-4 weeks of coverage on a full tank, taking some of the worry out of closely monitoring our usage and thinking about reordering”, Garry explains.

Garry quickly realised that time-based delivery of heat was a better management tool than the thermostat and went on to develop a simple retrofit device, the Chop-Cloc, to allow householders to do this for themselves.

It might seem too good to be true but having the heating off from anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes an hour (depending on how cold it is) really doesn’t make any difference to how warm you feel in the room. When the heating is on, carpets, walls and sofas get ‘charged up’ with heat energy from the radiators and continue to release that heat even if the heating is switched off (or Chopped) for a time.

Chopping can save householders up to 30% on their heating bills, depending on the temperature outside and how warm they like their home. With a payback period of less than a year, installing a Chop-Cloc allows consumers to choose how much they save without ever having to be uncomfortable. For communities who rely on a fuel source that has doubled in cost in recent years, that’s a compelling proposition.

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