Is heating oil a cheap way to heat my home?

Many people in the UK still use heating oil to heat the homes – this is particularly common when the house is off the mains gas grid.

There are two mains types of heating oil:

• Gas oil (also known as 35 second viscosity heating oil)
Kerosene (also known as 28 second viscosity heating oil)

Kerosene is the main type of heating oil used to heat homes here in the UK, although gas oil (which is very similar to diesel) is the most common type of heating oil used in Europe. In the UK, gas oil is commonly found in the agricultural sector, where it is used to power tractors and other agricultural equipment. In fact, gas oil can be used in diesel cars; however it tends to be dyed red (red diesel) so the authorities can track when it is misused in this way.

Kerosene heating oil to heat your home

Typically, kerosene gets burnt in oil boilers – these produce hot water and provide heating much like a conventional gas boiler. The benefit is that you can store large volumes of the oil on your property so you don’t need to be connected to the grid. Remember that approximately 4 million homes in the UK aren’t connected to the grid (out of a total of 27 million properties), so for many, oil boilers really are their only option!

Is heating oil expensive?

As of July 2016, the cost of 1 litre of was 33.78 pence based on a 1000 litre delivery. Obviously a bigger order may mean the cost comes down a little per litre and a smaller order may mean you might pay a little more.

In 1 litre of Kerosene, there are 10.35kWh of heat – so each kWh of oil works out at 3.2 pence per kWh. This is marginally cheaper than buying a unit of gas from the mains grid which works out at about 3.8p / kWh.

The 2 downsides of heating oil

There are a couple of major downsides when you heat your home with heating oil

The first one is that you can run out!

When was young, we had a oil boiler at home which we used for our heating, hot water and cooking. I remember it was around Christmas and we ran out of oil, obviously this isn’t a common problem, but it does happen – fortunately we had very friendly neighbours who made sure we didn’t starve!

This is one of the major issues with oil though and is the reason that even though the price of heating oil is a bit cheaper, many people with access to mains gas will always stick with that!

The fluctuating price of oil

Secondly, the price of oil fluctuates based on world events, and therefore the price you pay for a full tank can be very different each time you fill up the tank. While it is currently comparatively cheap to buy heating oil (3.2p / kWh), only 18 months ago it was 4.5p / kWh. We would always recommend buying heating oil plenty ahead of time – ideally at the beginning of the summer when demand is generally low and therefore prices are also lower.

Where can I buy heating oil?

You can use the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS) directory to find suppliers in your area.

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