Guide to Home Heating Oil

Oil is the primary source of warmth for a significant proportion of the US and UK. It tends to be restricted to rural areas where pipelined heating (ie, natural gas) is uneconomical. Despite tending to be more expensive than piped gas, it is generally considerably cheaper than bottled gas - those propane cylinders with large danger symbols on them.

How Much Oil Do I Have?

The first thing to know with your oil tank is how much is in it. The picture on the left shows a typical arrangement of a tube running vertically down the outside of the tank. Look closely down the length of the tube until you see the oil level, which can tell you the level inside the tank. You are looking for a yellowish liquid, and this can get quite difficult if the tank is getting a bit old and the tube is discoloured or dirty. Be warned - the oil level you see may not be the actual level inside the tank!

How Much Oil Do I Really Have??

At the bottom of the tube is the junction where the oil comes out of the tank, and you should find a button there. Ours is red. Watch the oil level in the tube, then hold the button down. You may see the oil level in the tube drop; hold the button down until the level stops falling. Now you have the actual level inside the tank.

What if I Can't See Oil Inside The Tube?

Check a few times to make sure that you haven't missed it; the oil level can be tricky locate, especially if you aren't used to it.

If you are sure that you can't see any oil, or if you pressed your level equalisation button and the oil level has disappeared below the tube, you urgently need to fill up with oil.

How Little is Too Little?

If you can't see the oil level at all, or the level is reaching the outlet point on the tank (ie, within a few inches of it), you MUST fill up urgently.

Who Will Sell Me My Oil?

There are numerous companies who offer heating oil; a web search for 'domestic heating oil' or 'home heating oil' will show plenty of ads and search results. Do your homework before calling for a quote, though: the companies tend to be regional, so check where they deliver to. A lazy (but pretty reliable) option is to use an oil supplier location service, to find the cheapest companies in your area. Another good source is your neighbours; they should be able to advise you on who to use or who to avoid, and may even run a local syndicate that can group-buy to get the very best prices.

How Much Oil Should I Ask For?

Know the size of your tank. There is no hard-and-fast rule how much a tank may hold by measuring its exterior size, but as an example our (newish) tank is around seven feet (2.1m) long and five feet (1.5m) round; it holds 2500L of oil.

The oil level tube takes some getting used to in estimating how much oil to fill up the tank. 'Most' of the oil is in the middle of the tank, as the top and bottom are the small parts of the circle. If the oil level is a third of the way down, you may only have used 10% of your oil, so definitely not enough for a fill. If, however, it's a third of the way from the bottom, your tank is 90% empty and you can think seriously about getting a big order in.

How Do I Get The Best Price?

The short answer is, you should naturally ring around to try and get the best price for your oil. In reality this is only part of the picture.

A bigger way to save money is to track your usage and the domestic oil prices every couple of weeks. Pay attention to the news; is there cold weather on its way, or has an oil producing country announced supply problems? All these things can point to higher (or lower) prices in the months ahead, so with a bit of forecasting you can avoid having to do a big tank fill-up when the retail price is peaking.

Other Heating Oil Terms

best home heating oil prices central heating oil prices cheap heating oil prices cheapest heating oil prices compare domestic heating oil prices compare heating oil prices current heating oil prices current home heating oil prices discount heating oil prices domestic heating oil prices heating oil prices heating oil prices ireland heating oil prices uk home heating oil prices kerosene heating oil prices local heating oil prices lowest heating oil prices lowest home heating oil prices


9 Comments

by Mark Elmy on 18 December 2011
The biggest problem with heating oil is you never know just what the 'going rate' is until you start rining round all the suppliers .. then you have to ring back to say company X beat your quote are you willing to beat their price .. and get into a dutch auction driving down the quote as you go whereas if there was somewhere you could look up the 'going rate' beforehand you'd know from the start what to expect and when you get an uncompetitive quote know straight away that they have to do better to even be competeitive - otherwise the first will quoye you the earth as a starting price etc etc etc.
Reply
by John Swindells on 18 December 2011
Oil buying groups are a way out of the ringing-around palaver that we find ourselves in. The collaborative effort means that the price-watching and quote-collecting is handled by one or two locals, making for a stress-free purchase for you.

Finding or establishing an oil club in your area... now that's where the fun begins.

Reply
by Gaz on 09 August 2011
Ive given up on oil, i have just installed solar pannels

Gaz

Reply
by Dilmah on 24 May 2011
I use personal combustion analyzer lmbd3 and I have already saved a lot of fuel - if you keep good burning parameters you save a lot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqQgiqPmz78

Reply
by Andy on 07 March 2011
Regarding the "How Much Oil do I Really Have". Our setup looks very much like your pictured set up (except you pull the red button not push it) and it makes a visible difference to the level in the sight tube if the boiler is firing and drawing oil. The flow of oil out of the tank past the T junction to the sight tube obviously drops the pressure there and depresses the level shown in the sight tube. I've just measured it and its 2.5" or 6cm lower. So you may just be lucky and have a little more oil left than you think..

Reply
by John Swindells on 07 March 2011
That's interesting Andy; I've never noticed whether the boiler's firing when I check the level. I'll try to make sure that it's off when I next check.
Reply
by Ken Lowe on 26 January 2011
helpful advice on heating oil. many thanks.

keep the money saving tips coming. the more the better. i have one. source the cheapest home heating oil in your area.

Reply
by sue pugh on 19 January 2011
does anyone know how much oil a 3 bedroomed house would use in the summer months of average temperatures in Cheshire per day/week?
Reply
by John Swindells on 19 January 2011
Hi Sue, during the summer months you should be using hardly any oil. Even if you use it to provide hot water, it should take very little oil for that. Even on a small tank you shouldn't notice the oil level drop more than an inch or two.
Reply
Show more
by paul on 29 December 2010
how long should 500 litres last on a typical family home with average usage,im currently using 500 litres every 3-4 weeks....costing me a fortune,surely that aint normal??
Reply
by Steve Webb on 20 February 2011
Paul, we are getting through the same levels, ours is an older 3 bedroomed farmhouse with poor insulation. Few tips - if boiler is outside insulate with insulation blocks around the boiler, also make sure its warm inside near thermostat otherwise boiler keeps on pumping needlessly.
Reply
Show more
by Richard Baxter on 18 December 2010
Don't forget that if you can get a supplier to deliver to several neighbouring addresses at the same time you will get a better price. With oil, the more you buy the cheaper it is. I used to be treasurer of the local church and the village hall so by gauging delivery for those and mine at the same time I talked the distributors into a very good price.
Reply
by Graham Parker on 03 December 2010
As a newcomer to the world of heating oil your advice has been a real help!
Reply
by John Swindells on 03 December 2010
Thanks for your feedback, Graham. Glad to be of help!
Reply
Add your comment

Free-to-use Strava Tools

Tools for the Strava Athlete (more)

Finding companies to invest in

Using various criteria to determine which companies are the best! (more)

John Swindells

John Swindells I am a career professional in software development, becoming proficient in various systems and languages since 1992. In recent years I have been especially active in web and mobile app projects. I stepped down in April ... (more)

Eastern Cross 2020/21 Round 1: Stow Scramble

Stowmarket & District CC put on a well drilled event at Haughley Park in Suffolk, with help from the MSG who would be running a mountain biking event the following day. Full results on the Eastern Cross website. Youth Race Some ... (more)

Upgrading to the Garmin Edge 1030

My previous on-bike device is a Garmin Edge 820, so that is what I'll be comparing my new computer to. First impressions On the surface, the Edge 1030 isn't fundamentally different to the 820. Sure, it's bigger (a lot bigger, really ... (more)

Finding other places to buy stuff

(more)

A Social Feed

This is a feed of everything I'm interested in, filtered and categorised according to my choices. Channels: Twitter (multiple accounts) Facebook groups Facebook pages Google+ LinkedIn Flickr Youtube Website RSS Webpage updates ... (more)

Cycling Performance Programme

Performance Programme Lockdowns notwithstanding, my plan and diary for cycling in 2021 will continue to focus on long-distance rides throughout the year, hopefully spiced up with audax, time trialling and sportive events. 2021 targets ... (more)

Crivit products

The Crivit® product range If you're looking for outdoors clothing or accessories, you could do worse than to browse the Crivit® range. Crivit® is a brand of German supermarket Lidl's, so it's most convenient for UK customers to head down ... (more)

Terms

Terms of Use These terms of use govern your use of our site. Please read these terms in full before you use this Website. If you do not accept these terms of use, please do not use this Website. Your continued use of this site confirms your ... (more)

Preparing for an all-day cycle ride

Background Over the years I've ridden quite a few long rides, but it wasn't until my early 40's that I gradually started increasing my time in the saddle from a few hours to six or more. I distinctly recall my first 200km ride as a bit of ... (more)

East District Championship 100-mile time trial

Event cancelled due to a rider being seriously hurt after a collision at the exit of the Snetterton junction, and subsequent closure of the A11 heading towards Norwich. event info The 100-mile TT champs is organised by CC Breckland ... (more)

National 12-hour time trial championship

The event has now finished. Photos from the event are below. event info The national championship returns again to the eastern region, with CC Breckland running the event. It also includes the East District championship. Unlike ... (more)

Cycliq FLY-6 long-term review

The Cycliq FLY6 is a solid piece of kit that straps onto your seat tube, and is designed as a "turn on and leave it" device that continuously records video footage of the view behind. The footage is wide-angle to capture lots of the periphery ... (more)

Strava keyword cloud

Here's what the current mood is on Strava! It's based on the titles of activities uploaded to swinny.net, and highlights trending phrases over the last few days. Here are some previous keyword clouds of note: March 2020: Lockdown ... (more)

Related Reading

Buying Oil: Your Situation
When did you last buy oil?





Survey Results For US
 

Latest Comments

Popular Searches