LPG: the preferred choice for homeowners in rural communities

For new developments based off the mains gas grid, which fuel is the most popular for potential homeowners? Here, Ian Digby, Specifier Manager at Calor, makes a strong case for why liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is often the preferred choice, and why the fuel should be front of mind for housebuilders and developers building off-grid.

When it comes to fuelling a home, residents are typically looking for a fuel that is affordable, reliable, flexible and familiar. It’s no surprise, then, that LPG fares so well in new off-grid developments, with many developers recognising that it can be a key factor in encouraging prospective buyers.

With electricity prices generally three to four times higher than gas prices per unit of energy, LPG first and foremost offers a cost-effective option for homeowners. Payment is simple to manage, with companies such as Calor offering easy payment plans and the ability to manage an account online. In short, this means owners can spend less time on worrying about bills and instead focus on enjoying rural living.

LPG can be installed as a communal system on an off-grid development, with the gas stored centrally in underground tanks and distributed through a network of pipes to properties in the same way as mains gas. This creates a ‘metered estate’, with each resident billed separately for the gas consumed. The LPG supplier owns the central tanks, maintaining and refuelling automatically as necessary. Tanks from leading LPG suppliers will feature intelligent top-up technology, which ensures a delivery service is scheduled automatically when a tank begins to run low on fuel. Therefore, homeowners can feel safe in the knowledge that they have a fuel they can depend on, with security of supply assured.

The versatility of a fuel is another key factor. Because it’s just like having mains gas, LPG is perfectly suited to providing heating and hot water, as well as a fuel for cookers and gas fires. LPG provides an instant, controllable flame for cooking, with the additional reassurance that even in the event of a power cut, appliances running off gas will not be affected.

Finally, homeowners like an energy supply that is convenient and easy to use. With most people having had experience of a mains gas combi boiler, it is comforting to know that LPG boilers and their controls operate in exactly the same way – typically featuring a compact design too to help save valuable space in a kitchen or utility room.

Fuelling rural communities 

Homeowners to recently benefit from LPG include those at St Mary Bourne, a new rural development in Hampshire. Located off-grid, there was no feasibility of connecting the development to the mains gas grid, meaning the Hyde Group had to consider the alternative fuel options available. LPG offered clear advantages in terms of cost efficiencies, flexibility and easy maintenance for tenants.

The Hyde Group initially considered electricity as the site’s main source of energy for providing heating and hot water to the homes, but quickly discovered LPG provided lower fuel costs.

Delivering a flexible solution, residents can use gas for heating, hot water and cooking, meaning those living in the properties are able to enjoy the same benefits and conveniences as those in urban environments using mains gas.

Calor supplied and installed two 4,000-litre bulk tanks to the site, which have been buried underground to ensure the development maintains its rural aesthetics.

Scott Edwards, Project Manager at the Hyde Group, said:

“We chose LPG for our St Mary Bourne site because not only is it a cost-effective energy supply, but it provides more choice for our residents. The scheme of 11 homes was built on agricultural land, so no other fuel resource had been supplied to this area before. We needed to get an alternative to electric that offered flexibility and was cost efficient for our residents. LPG offered these benefits and was easy to install.”

Tried and tested

Samantha Southam, Managing Director of Falcon Rural Housing, agrees that LPG offers the most cost-effective and flexible fuel solution for those based off the mains gas grid. Falcon Rural Housing provides affordable rented housing for local people in the picturesque village of Sandford, at the new Creedy View development.

She explains:

“LPG offers a tried and trusted solution that can help our tenants save money, while being simple and easy to use. Tenants like the familiarity of LPG boilers and their controls, which are exactly the same as a mains gas boiler. Gas also provides an instant and controllable flame for cooking, so our tenants are not penalised by living off-grid.”

The consumer’s choice

For new developments located off the mains gas grid, LPG offers all the benefits of conventional gas supply. As a result, LPG is establishing itself as the preferred choice for major housebuilders in rural areas, available from as little as £500 per plot.

For developers, ease of installation and a lower cost per housing plot makes LPG an attractive proposition, while for homeowners it is its versatility, familiarity and affordability. LPG offers an ideal solution for those seeking an efficient, affordable fuel for new off-grid developments.