What type of heating oil do I need and what are the pros and cons of using it?

What type of heating oil do I need and what are the pros and cons of using it?

11 million people live in rural areas across the UK, with 15% of the population in off-grid homes and approx. 1.1 million homes using oil for heating. Many rural homes have never been connected to the mains gas network, and as a result alternative energy sources have to be found. Whether you’ve just moved into a new home that is off-grid and relies on heating oil, or you’re thinking of making the switch from another source of energy, we’re here to help!

If your property has an oil heating system, you need home heating oil for it to function. In this blog we look at the different types of home heating oil, what it is used for, how it’s produced and help you understand the pros and cons of using it. We also answer some ‘burning’ questions so you can make informed decisions when you are ready to purchase your domestic heating oil.

What are the types of heating oil?

Kerosene heating oil is also known as home heating oil, kero, burning oil, and 28-second oil because its viscosity is such that a measured amount passes through a measured hole in 28 seconds or less. It is a lighter type of oil which is most widely used in oil central heating boilers in many homes across the UK. It burns cleanly and efficiently making it a reliable option for heating UK homes, and can also be used in kitchen ranges such as AGA or Rayburn cookers.

Premium heating oil (PHO) is a sub-type of kerosene which has been enhanced with a heating oil additive. It burns far more efficiently than standard kerosene, leading to:

  • Improved boiler efficiency
  • Better fuel economy
  • Reduced CO2 emissions as fuel is burned off far more efficiently
  • Prevents rust inside your boiler
  • Keeps fuel fresher for longer by reducing the amount of sludge that builds up over time in your tank.

Gas oil, also known as 35-second oil or red diesel, is a heavier oil generally used in older boilers. More commonly used in agriculture or commercially. As its name suggests, the same measured amount as kerosene would take 35 seconds or less to pass through the same measured hole.

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) - coming soon! HVO is an exciting new renewable fuel that reduces emissions by up to 90% and is an ideal choice for both homes and businesses that currently use traditional heating oil. Made from fossil free, certified sustainable waste materials, you won’t notice any difference as it's just as efficient as domestic heating oil, so helps tackle climate change without changing the way you heat your property. So watch this space!

If you have recently moved into a new house and are unsure what type of oil your oil fired central heating boiler runs on, there may be a label on the tank or boiler giving you instructions on what type of heating oil you need. Otherwise, we would recommend you get in touch with an OFTEC registered oil heating engineer who will be able to help and advise.

How is heating oil made?

Heating oil is just one of the products produced from petroleum. It is made through a production process called fractional distillation. This heats crude oil at extremely high temperatures in a fractionating column and separates the compounds of crude oil to form a thin, clear oil.

The Pros and cons of heating oil:

Firstly, let's start by looking at the pros. Home heating oil is a cost-effective and efficient fuel that’s delivered in bulk by road and stored on your property in a central heating oil tank. It is stable, safe and easy to transport, and burns at a higher temperature than gas. This means your home will warm up quickly and efficiently when you switch your oil central heating boiler on. It’s considered to be one of the safest fuels to heat your home as, although flammable, it is non-explosive, and is not readily combustible in its natural liquid state. If you take a match and drop it into a vat of heating oil, you’ll find the flame fizzles out.  It also has a low risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, although we would always recommend you get a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home as any appliance that burns fuel has the potential to produce carbon monoxide.

With domestic heating oil, you are in complete control of your supply and can ensure you have sufficient fuel to see you through the year. Heating oil prices fluctuate and you have the flexibility to monitor price rises and falls and stock up when costs are low.

As with all fuels, there are also some cons to consider. Unlike mains gas where you have an ‘on tap’ constant supply of fuel piped into your home, you do need to remember to keep an eye on the amount of oil you have in your heating oil tank and order a refill before you run out. Help is at hand though with automatic refilling services which offer convenience as well as peace of mind, and heating oil tank gauges such as our OilFox smart monitor which will send alerts to your phone via the handy app if your fuel is getting low or if your fuel level suddenly drops. Plus, it's an easy and reliable way in which to remotely monitor your heating oil level.

As a fossil fuel, heating oil is not as clean as some other fuels and produces more carbon emissions than natural gas or LPG. Regular maintenance by an OFTEC registered oil heating engineer will not only make sure your boiler is working efficiently, but also keep the build-up of soot to a minimum. However, there are things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment, for instance carbon offsetting your fuel to reduce your carbon footprint.

When using heating oil, you need the space to store a heating oil tank on your property. This can be a little unaesthetic to the eye and there are some important considerations when choosing the location of your tank to make sure it is safe and complies with strict regulations. It needs to be accessible for deliveries, a safe distance from buildings and where possible sheltered from the weather. OFTEC can provide you with a heating oil tank installation guide.

A great way to receive the best service and value along with complete peace of mind is the Northern Energy Premium Package*. Customers on this package receive an automatic refilling service, and don’t have to pay their VAT on their fuel as we do it for them. We also offer them an interest free payment plan to make budgeting easier in these times of high inflation and the current cost of living crisis. Or try our new Flexi Saver Plan! If you’d like to know more about our Premium Package* click here, or contact us on 01423 770 666.

*Terms and conditions apply