Buying domestic heating oil
The domestic heating oil market is complex and the price of oil can be high. Many people find it hard to get a competitive price when buying domestic heating oil, but there are some things you can do…
Finding a cheaper domestic heating oil supplier
There are independent websites that allow you to track the price of heating oil and find a better price: examples of these are BoilerJuice and Fuel Tool. As in the gas and electricity market, new heating oil customers tend to get a better price than long-standing ones. So, if you’ve been with the same supplier for ages, it’s worth having a look around for a better deal.
Join a domestic heating oil buying club
Another option is joining an oil buying club. These are groups of households who join up to negotiate a better price through bulk purchasing. The Oil Club is a good place to start. They claim to save their members “£100’s on the cost of heating oil each year”, though we can’t verify this.
If you live in Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset, Bristol or South Glos, then you could become a member of the West of England Rural Network’s community oil buying club. Membership is free to people aged over 70 at the time of writing.
See also the Community Council for Somerset’s oil buying scheme. In this initiative, households in Somerset with an income of less than £35,000 per year can apply for an interest-free council funded loan to buy domestic heating oil, enabling them to spread the cost across a number of months rather than paying out one or two large lump sums.
Buy domestic heating oil in bulk
If you can afford to – and have suitable and secure storage – then you can also save money by buying your heating oil in bulk during the summer months when prices are lower. Note that this will leave you with a valuable commodity at the end of your garden that may attract thieves; you may find these tips on how to protect your oil tank useful.
Alternatives to oil
Have you ever considered moving off oil altogether?
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is a government initiative aimed at increasing the take up of non-fossil fuel heating systems and offers significant incentives to householders:
- £5,000 off the cost and installation of an air source heat pump.
- £5,000 off the cost and installation of a biomass boiler (only for properties in rural locations not connected to the gas grid).
- £6,000 off the cost and installation of a ground source heat pump.
Or how about getting some of your water heating needs taken care of by the sun? If your roof is south facing and unshaded, a solar hot water system (also known as solar thermal) can help you offset as much as half of your domestic water heating costs. You could also get a solar diverter to store excess energy from your solar PV panels as hot water.
You can read about both these technologies here:
Alternatively, have you investigated whether you could get connected to mains gas? A modern high-efficiency gas condensing boiler is significantly cheaper to run than its oil-fired equivalent, though connecting your home to the gas network will cost you money. To switch, you need to contact the local distribution network operator for your area. You can find this here. In the past, some network operators have offered grants to vulnerable households.
Finally, don’t forget that the best way to reduce your heating costs is to reduce the amount of fuel you use. If your oil-fired boiler is old or unreliable, then you’ll reduce your running costs significantly by replacing it with a more efficient condensing oil boiler that’ll give you more heat for less oil. And you should also ensure that your home is well insulated.