Over 1.5 million UK households use heating oil to warm their homes during winter. Despite this, the market is almost completely un-regulated, meaning people using heating oil are at risk of paying too much.
This guide takes you through the basics of heating oil, and the average costs. It also looks at a number of methods of keeping these costs down, and some of the benefits you could gain from switching your heating source.
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Most households these days are heated using gas from the grid, known as ‘mains gas’. This comes into the home via pipes and is more or less available on demand. Heating oil works slightly differently, but is just as controllable as mains gas. Heating oil is delivered in batches that you can choose the size of, depending on how much room you have to store it. People often order in bulk to keep costs down (see below). Heating oil comes in two forms – standard heating oil or kerosene – which of these you need to buy will depend on what type of boiler you have. If you have a choice, you should go for kerosene. Kerosene tends to be more efficient and so is more commonly used in homes.
Kerosene itself comes in two different grades, standard kerosene and premium kerosene. Whilst premium is more expensive, it will burn more efficiently, and you won’t need to have your boiler maintained or cleaned so often as less sludge builds up. This means that purchasing premium kerosene could actually save you money in the long run.
Heating oil is used widely in rural areas that are less likely to be connected to mains gas. Although it burns less cleanly than gas, it is preferable to coal in terms of its environmental impact.
Just like all other means of heating your home, the price of heating oil will change over time. There are a number of factors that can influence this price such as crude oil price, VAT rates and currency exchange rates amongst others.
Unfortunately, according to Sutherland Tables, the price of heating oil was at a 4 year high in 2019, at an average of just over £1,000 to heat a three bed house for a year. As can be expected, these prices will decrease as it gets warmer in summer, and increase in winter as the cold sets in.
One of the main problems with choosing heating oil is that, unlike for mains gas, there is no regulator that protects consumers. This means it’s very hard to work out whether you are getting a good deal and being treated fairly. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to keep the costs down.
Changing the source of your heating could be one of the best ways to save money, but there are lots of other benefits as well.
If you’re connected to the mains gas network, then you could consider changing to this method of heating. It’s cheaper than oil, it’s easier to compare prices and stay safe due to industry regulation, and changing to a gas boiler could add value to your home! It is also more environmentally friendly.
If you’re concerned about your environmental impact and you have some land, you may want to look at investing in renewable energy, for example wind or hydro power. Houses all over the country can now have solar panels fitted at relatively low costs as well. Renewable energy sources are also a good way to supplement your energy supply is you live off the mains grid network.
Some other alternative energy sources to consider are electric heating, LPG (liquid petroleum gas), coal burners, and bio-mass fuel burners (these are fuelled by wood).