Oil Heating


More than four million households in the United Kingdom are not connected to the national gas grid, and depend upon heating oil, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), electricity, or other sustainable sources, to heat their homes. The main difference between grid energy and oil heating is that the oil is transported by road, and stored in a tank. Oil heating is the most popular fuel for homes in Northern Ireland, due to the late expansion of a natural gas network. If your property has an oil boiler, then it runs on heating oil.

Types of heating oil

There are two types of heating oil used for domestic heating:

  • Kerosene – (also known as 28-second, or heating oil).This is a lighter, cleaner fuel, and is the most popular type used in homes in the UK.
  • Gas oil – Gas oil (also known as red diesel, or 35-second oil).This is a heavier oil commonly used in older boilers, agriculture, and industry.

If you have just moved into a property, the type of oil you will need is determined by the kind of heating system already installed in the building. If your boiler is not labelled clearly, call in a technician who will be able to tell you what fuel it runs on. If they are unavailable and cannot help, an online search will help you source the professionals, who will tell you precisely what you need to know.

The cost of heating oil

Heating oil costs can vary, depending on your location, and the time of year. If you have the choice to select which type to use, kerosene is the most popular and effective fuel. In colder weather it is rare for it to ‘wax up’ (develop crystals that stop it from flowing as freely) until it nears around – 39C. (check with the supplier on the kind you are using, as this can vary). With bulk buying, you can save money with cheap heating oil, especially if you have a large storage tank. The supply and demand will regulate the price to some degree, so buying outside of the winter months should see a slight reduction in price.

Heating oil additives

You can purchase a premium type of kerosene, which contains additives that give a cleaner burn. Premium kerosene commonly costs around £20 to £30 more than the standard type (based on 500 litres). You can also buy the additives yourself, which cost somewhere around £15 for a container that will treat around 1,000 litres of oil.


In January 2015, kerosene cost about 46p per litre. Prices fluctuate and have been decreasing over the past year. The cost depends on where you live in the UK, what time of year you order, and the amount you request.

Making the right choice

There are several ways to make sure you get the right deal, and it is not difficult to find out more about how and where to get the best rate for your oil.  An online search will put you in touch with a reputable supplier who can deliver to your door.