A beginner’s guide to using heating oil for central heating

A beginner’s guide to using heating oil for central heating

What is heating oil?

Here's a beginner’s guide to the two different types of heating oil which can be used for domestic purposes:
  • Kerosene - Kerosene is used widely throughout the UK and is known by several different names, including heating oil and 28 sec oil.  It is a by-product of crude oil  and is created through the fractional distillation of petroleum. Kerosene is the most common type of fuel used to heat UK homes that do not have access to the mains gas network and provides a relatively clean burn with a high heat output.
  • Gas oil - Gas oil is produced in the same way as kerosene but it is a heavier oil and generally only used in old boilers and for commercial purposes.

Is heating oil expensive?

The price of heating oil changes on a daily basis.  Oil is traded on the world market and prices can be affected by a multiple of different factors, which include growth of global economies, recession, fluctuating exchange rates, supply and demand to name a few.   However, recent data from the Sutherland tables has indicated that, while the UK average prices for gas, electricity and oil have come down since the last quarter, oil users have gained the most, regardless of their location and types of boilers being used.

How often does the boiler need servicing?

Oil fired boilers should be serviced by an OFTEC registered engineer once a year. By servicing your boiler annually it should keep it well maintained and working at its most efficient, which will help to reduce energy bills and avoid the risk of a breakdown.If a boiler is not serviced annually it could result in long term damage. During the combustion process, deposits will build up on the internal surfaces of the heat exchanger and can cause the efficiency to decrease. If left for a prolonged period of time the deposits can harden and result in a costly repair.

What do I need to know before I order my first delivery?

The size of your tank - it would be helpful to know how big your oil tank is so you can determine how much oil you will need to order. If you are unsure you could always ask your supplier to check this when they deliver your oil. Most tanks typically range between 1000 - 1360 litres if they are being used for domestic purposes.Delivery instructions - passing on delivery instructions to your fuel supplier means they will be able to locate your property and tank easily. Pass on any information about where your house is situated whether it is opposite a school or near a pub or park. The more information you provide the easier it is for the driver to find your tank.

Do I have to be at home when my oil is delivered?

You usually only need to be home for access purposes, for example, if you need to let the driver into your property and unlock the tank. If the driver can gain access to your tank without you being there then there is no need for you to be at home.

How can I pay for my heating oil?

Most suppliers allow you to pay for your fuel upfront or by direct debit. By paying by direct debit you are guaranteed to never miss a payment or alternatively it is a good way to build up credit for your next delivery. If you prefer to pay for your fuel as and when you order it you can do this over the phone using a debit or credit card, although there is often a charge for credit cards so make sure you ask your supplier before placing your order.  The charge can vary from supplier to supplier.

I am buying a property which already has an oil tank installed.  What questions should I ask?

  • What date was the tank initially installed?
  • When was the tank last serviced? Was the tank serviced by an OFTEC registered engineer?
  • Is the tank under warranty?
  • Is the tank bunded?
  • What is the energy efficiency rating of the boiler?