In our unpredictable British climate, ensuring that your home remains sufficiently warm and  comfortable all year round is especially important. A beautiful bright warm day in June could suddenly be followed by another day of rain and freezing winds.

So, we want to ensure that we are fully prepared, even if we do begrudgingly decide to put the heating on in the middle of summer.

However, no matter how much we use our boiler in the summer, we cannot deny our reliance on it during the winter months.

The prospect of broken boilers during Christmas, and seeing condensation from our breaths in our homes, haunts us.  And what if you run out of heating oil? No one wants to spend the winter months shivering underneath in mountains of blankets, too cold to move, when they could have prepared for this six months before.

This blog will advise you on how to best prepare for the winter by stocking your heating oil supply in advance. Unfortunately, heating oil prices are not static and they can vary quite significantly.

Some people decide to buy their heating oil in the summer when demand is low and stock it to save money. Baring this in mind, we will explore  the variety of different factors that affect heating oil usage amounts, oil price changes and the best time of year to stock up on heating oil.

How does heating oil work?

Firstly, we will briefly explain how heating oil works, to give you a general idea of your daily energy consumption.

Heating oil is a liquid by-product of crude oil, derived from petroleum distillation.

This means that the price of crude oil will heavily impact the price of heating oil. Using heating oil to power your home is not just a modern invention. In the days of yore, heating oil was refined for lanterns, stoves, lighting and cooking. Yet, now it is more commonly used in furnaces and boilers which heat people’s homes.

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 because it is a quicker and safer way of heating your home, that is both non-toxic and non-explosive.

Heating oil suppliers prices can vary throughout the year

The time of year is one of the main things to consider when judging the best time to stock up your heating oil supply.

Generally, prices are more expensive in the winter, as we use more heating oil in the colder months. Whereas, summer prices tend to be cheaper as usage decreases.

So, it is worth thinking ahead and filling up your oil tank early. 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 cause delays, making it difficult for your heating oil supplier to get to your home.

Furthermore, crude oil prices depend upon not only the supplier demand, but also political unrest. The US, China and the Middle East are the main producers and consumers of oil trade.

Understandably, oil prices have changed and can fluctuate, due to the political turmoil and unrest in the Middle East.

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.

Brexit is one of the main political contentions of this generation. 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 the future is the action towards climate change. Unfortunately, crude oil is becoming more expensive as it is not a sustainable source.

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 way 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.

Determining how much  heating oil is too much can be difficult, as each home will use a different amount depending on their boiler specification. Older boilers will typically burn more than newer boilers. But, installing a new central heating system into your home can be costly and disruptive.

Yet, the average annual cost of using heating oil is estimated to be around £552 per home. In January 2018, the cost per litre of kerosene 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. Gather as many past heating oil bills that you have to track how much you have spent on heating oil and how much that you use.

If 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 over ground oil tank. The life expectancy of these durable contraptions is 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 to!

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 (FPS).

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.

Southern Fuels: Professional oil suppliers in the South

Priding ourselves on being a heating oil supplier that is always fully stocked, Southern Fuels should be your go-to in Honiton 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. Please give us a call on 01404 831775 or email info@southernfuels.co.uk for more information.