Published: Mon, 1 Apr 2019
Ensuring that your home will remain sufficiently comfortable and warm all year round is especially important with our unpredictable British climate - a beautiful bright warm day in June could suddenly be followed by another day of rain and freezing winds. So, we want to make sure that we are fully prepared, even if we do begrudgingly decide to put the heating on in the height of summer.
However, no matter how much we use our boiler in the summer, we cannot deny our reliance on it in the winter. We are haunted by the prospect of broken boilers during Christmas, and seeing condensation from our breaths in our homes. And what if you run out of heating oil? No one wants to spend the winter months curled up in mountains of blankets too chilled to move when they could have prepared for this six months before.
This blog will give you some advice on how to best prepare for the colder months by stocking your heating oil supply in advance. Unfortunately, heating oil prices are not static and they can vary quite significantly. So, people do choose to buy their heating oil in the summer because demand is low and stock it to save money. With this in mind, we will explore below the variety of different factors that affect how much heating oil you will use, how the price changes and when it is the best time to stock up on heating oil.
How does heating oil work?
First and foremost, we will briefly explain how heating oil works, so you can get a general idea of your daily energy consumption.
Heating oil is a liquid product that is derived from petroleum distillation and is a by-product of crude oil. This means that the price of crude oil will heavily impact the price of heating oil. Heating oil, as a way to heat your home, is not just a modern invention; it was refined in the days of yore for lanterns, stoves, lighting and cooking. Yet, now it is more commonly used in furnaces and boilers to heat your home.
Despite the term ‘heating oil’, the actual process of heating oil is not burning the oil. Heating oil systems work by combining fuel oil from your storage tank with air which delivers it to a point of ignition at a burner head. The burner then atomises the oil into a fine spray. Using heating oil in your home has increased in popularity due to the fact that it heats your home up quicker, and it is a safe heating method that is both non-toxic and non-explosive.
Heating oil suppliers prices can vary throughout the year
One of the main things to consider when judging the best time to stock up your heating oil supply is the time of year. Generally, as we use more heating oil in the winter months, prices will be more expensive at this time of year. Whereas, in the summer, when our heating oil usage decreases, the prices will be cheaper. So, it is worth thinking ahead and filling up your oil tank early. In addition, it is also worth investing in heating oil in the summer because generally, it will be easier to transport the oil to your home. The icy roads and slippery terrain of winter can make it difficult for your heating oil supplier to get to your home, which can cause delays.
Furthermore, crude oil prices depend upon not only the supplier demand, but also political unrest. The main producers and consumers of oil trade are the US, China and the Middle East. Understandably, due to the political turmoil and unrest in the Middle East, oil prices have changed and they can fluctuate.
As we trade with the US for our oil supply, the trade is done in US dollars. The price of oil can fluctuate depending upon the weakness or strength of the British pound to the US dollar. The stronger the pound, the cheaper oil prices will be and vice versa. So, even if you plan on buying considerable amounts of heating oil in the summer, if the pound ends up being weaker then it could be worth waiting until it gets stronger.
One of the main political contentions of this generation is Brexit. The uncertainty over Brexit has led to the considerable yo-yo of the British pounds strength, which not only has resulted in general inflation prices but also has impacted oil prices. So, this is worth keeping in mind when confronted with oil prices by your supplier.
Another key factor to consider in future is the action towards climate change. Unfortunately, crude oil is not a sustainable source, so it is becoming more expensive. Plus, governments are searching for renewable options, which may include phasing out heating oil boilers in new homes. There is also the belief that a renewable, low-carbon liquid fuel or bio-fuel could be introduced as a solution.
Regularly check your home heating oil levels
One of the ways to make sure that you don’t over or under purchase heating oil is to regularly check your oil levels in your tank. You can do this as often as you like, but we recommend checking them once a week during the winter and once a month during the summer.
It can be difficult to determine how much is too much when it comes to purchasing heating oil, as each home will use a different amount depending on their boiler specification. Newer boilers will typically burn less than older boilers. But, installing a new central heating system into your home can be costly and disruptive. Yet, it has been estimated that the average annual cost of using heating oil is around £552 per home, and in January 2018, the cost per litre of kerosene heating oil was around 48p. Generally, the average oil burning furnace uses between 0.8 to 1.7 gallons of oil per hour. This is around 3.64 to 7.73 litres. To understand how much you are spending on heating, gather as many past heating oil bills that you have to track how much you have spent and how much that you use.
If that statistic is surprising to you, and you want to cut down on home heating oil levels. There are a variety of ways to make your home more energy efficient. Including, insulating your attic, sealing doors to prevent drafts, covering your windows with heat activated plastic, utilising natural solar heat and controlling your home temperature with a thermostat, so switching it off when you aren’t at home or at night.
Your heating oil will either be stored in an underground or overground oil tank. These durable contraptions have a life expectancy of around 20 years. Old oil tanks can be susceptible to rust and leakages which can damage the surrounding environment of your home. You should also be aware that oil tanks are one of the main targets of home theft, which may be surprising, but oil tanks can hold on average around £1000 of oil. This pamphlet published by Scotland Police, gives some useful advice on how to protect your oil tank. Some of the advice includes:
- Investing in CCTV measures for your home
- Using safety devices like padlocks, cages and security lights
- Placing ‘defensive planting’ around the oil tank
Compare prices of heating oil companies to find the best supplier for you
To make sure that you are paying the best possible price for stocking heating oil, it’s important to collect as much knowledge as possible of different suppliers and their prices. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. You may find that you have been overspending on oil when you simply didn’t need too! Though, unlike car and home insurance websites, there isn’t a direct comparison website when it comes to oil, so most of this will just be homework. Some companies also offer rates that encourage you to stock heating oil, as the more you buy the price per unit may be cheaper, saving you money in the long run.
If you are looking for an oil supplier, make sure that you find one that is accredited by the
Federation of Petroleum Suppliers. The main trade association for the oil distribution industry, they self-regulate the industry with a code of standards that all oil providers have to meet. The FPS also is a voice for the oil distribution industry to the government.
Priding ourselves on being a heating oil supplier that is always fully stocked, Western Fuel should be your go-to in Bridgewater for when you want to stock up your heating oil supply. Providing both domestic and commercial heating oil, we are well equipped at dealing with homes and businesses of any size or demand. Readily available and cost-effective, we pride ourselves on providing both a punctual service and a good price for our product. To find out more, contact us today.
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