What is heating oil?

Heating oil is used for heating applications in central heating systems. There are millions of households in the UK which are not connected to the National Gas Grid system and hence reply on heating oil to heat their properties.

Heating oil is different to gas from the grid as it is delivered by road and stored in a tank. Properties that have an oil boiler require heating oil to run.

What are the different types of heating oil?

There are two main types of heating oil that is used for domestic heating.

Gas heating oil –

This is also known as red diesel or 35-second oil, mainly because of its distillation process. Gas heating oil is usually used in agriculture, for commercial purposes or very old boilers. This also tends to be much cheaper than road diesel because of it is a rebated fuel.

Kerosene heating oil –

This is generally known as heating oil or 28-second oil, and is a much lighter, cheaper and cleaner fuel compared to gas heating oil. Kerosene is also the most common type of heating oil used in homes in the UK.

The type of oil you should use for your property is all determined by the type of heating system your house has. If this is not clearly labelled, you should enquire with your landlord or previous owner.

Kerosene heating oil is far more the efficient oil and due to this, if you are able to choose, this would be your best option.

Why should I use heating oil for my central heating?

Kerosene heating oil is used for domestic heating in millions of homes around the UK and is the popular choice among heating oils. Kerosene burns cleanly, efficiency and has great winter performance.

What is Gas oil used for?

Gas oil is used mainly for agriculture and commercial purposes, and is commonly used for fuel in cranes, tractors and bulldozers. Gas oil is also used to power generators at carnivals, festivals and large events which requires a large amount of power.

Gas oil is much cheaper to use than road diesel as it is charged a less amount of tax, but it is important to note that using gas oil in a vehicle that is used on a public road is illegal.

How much heating oil does a house use in year?

If you are one of the millions of homes across the UK that relies on a oil fired boiler, how much heating oil you burn throughout a year all depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • The size of your house
  • How old your house is
  • How many rooms your house has
  • The temperature you heat your home at
  • How long you use heating oil in a day
  • The efficiency of your boiler
  • The insulation of your home

If you are moving into a new home which uses heating oil, it may be helpful to ask the current owners how much oil they burn throughout the year, so you can use it as a guide for your consumption.

What is premium kerosene?

You can also buy a premium version of Kerosene. This contains additives, which makes it burn more cleanly and efficiently. Premium kerosene usually costs £20/£30 more than the standard heating oil, and you are also able to buy the additives yourself.

How is kerosene made?

The production of kerosene has now become a much easier process compared to the past. Kerosene is made through a process called fractional distillation, and this involves separating the compounds of crude oil. Once this is separated, a clear and thin oil is created, which is called kerosene.

How much does heating oil cost?

The price of heating oil can fluctuate dramatically over time. A litre cost between 30 and 35p in 2016, however this flew to 55p per litre back in 2018, before dipping to 50p until early 2020. 

The price of heating oil today sits around 40p a litre, however can fluctuate depending on several factors.

What causes heating oil prices to fluctuate?

Price fluctuations can be due to a number of reasons. Some of these include the increase or decrease of global production, increase in demand, conflict in oil producing countries, VAT rates, and even the weather!

Prices can also depend on where you are located in the country, the time of the year you buy heating oil in, and the amount you buy as well.

What are the pros and cons of using heating oil?

Pros –

Efficiently – Compared to natural gas, heating oil burns at a high temperature and delivers more heat compared to other heating sources.

Safety – Heating oil is not explosive like gas despite being flammable and does not produce any carbon monoxide.

Low initial costs – Heating oil tends to be cheaper to burn than gas

Cons –

Maintenance – Heating oil produces significant dirt and soot, meaning that chimneys and filters need to be cleaned on a regular basis.

High long-term costs – Despite heating oil having a low initial cost, long term it does cost more than natural gas.

Requires additives – In order to keep your boiler running as efficiently as possible, it is recommended to mix heating oil additives into your supply.

No supply line – As heating oil is not connected to the National Grid, it is up to the owner to sort out the supply of heating oil.