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Have an oil heater? Here’s how to reduce costs

Published 23 February 2016 by

Oil heating is for homes that aren’t connected to the main gas grid and currently, around 1.5 million households in the UK rely on oil to heat up their homes. The main difference between oil heating and gas is that instead of getting gas through your pipes, oil is delivered to your home and stored in a tank.

If you’ve just moved into a property that has an oil boiler or want to reduce the amount that you’re spending on oil, here are a few ways to cut your bills.

Find the right supplier

Making sure you have the right supplier for your oil is essential, but you’ll only be able to gauge this once you know the general price range to aim for. Pinpointing the wholesale prices for oil can be hard but the Government publishes a quarterly report which you might find helpful.

In general, it’s thought that suppliers add a minimum of 4p/litre to the wholesale price that they pay, so if you’re quoted anywhere near this you may be onto a winner. You can search for suppliers through brokers (who will charge you for securing a deal) and comparison sites like Boilerjuice or CheapestOil.

To find suppliers in your area, you can use the Yellow Pages or Yell. Once you’ve got a list of suppliers, ring them up and try to haggle to get the price down. This is quite commonplace so you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to do this. When you’ve got a few quotes, you’ll be able to decide on the best offer.

If possible, try to find a supplier that is credited by the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers, the trade association for the oil distribution industry. Its members adhere to a code of practice meaning they have to clearly explain payment charges, not charge you extra once a price has been agreed and resolve any delivery issues that you face.

Timing is everything

The price you pay for oil is influenced by the wholesale price that suppliers pay and as this can fluctuate regularly, it’s important to time when you buy just right. You should try to get in the routine of planning ahead and give yourself enough time to get quotes, as leaving it till the last minute could see costs increase by 10%.

As a general rule, demand is low in the summer so it can be the best time to buy, while December can be the most expensive month.

Buy in bulk

Although it’s not always the case, some suppliers will give you a discount the more oil you buy. So you could group together with your neighbours, join an oil-buying group or if it’s just you, store the excess oil somewhere safe.

It’s possible your heating oil could be stolen, so if you’re going to store oil in bulk in your home you should set about making the appropriate security precautions. Make sure to check whether your oil will be covered by your household insurance, which ideally should cover you for loss, theft, as well as damage and the cost of clearing up any spillages.

Check your tank and oil

Maintenance is key as it’s recommended by the Oil Firing Technical Association that you get an annual tank inspection. In the meantime, there are simple checks that you can do yourself to double check for any cracks, corrosion, and debris left in the tank. For advice on how to do this, follow this guide.