UK heating oil prices have been declining for around the last 18 months. The good news for heating oil users is that the average UK heating oil price has fallen by around £60 on 1,000 litres vs. the same time last year and over £100 vs. 18 months ago.
So, if you are thinking of ordering 1,000 litres this summer, you may want to know how long you can expect your heating oil to last. There are a number of variables which will affect how long your heating oil is likely to last. For some of our customers, 1,000 litres may last a full year, while for others it may last for only a matter of months. You will be able to influence how long your oil lasts to a degree, while other factors will remain completely outside of your control.
The winter of 2013/14 was much milder across the majority of the UK than the winter of 2012/13. Having examined my own heating oil usage, I found that I have actually used 15.2% less oil this year than in the previous year. When the price drops are also taken into account this has resulted in a 23.9% drop in my heating costs. For each 500 litre fill ordered this year, it lasted on average 18 days more than the previous year! Unfortunately, living in the UK, we are never really guaranteed anything weather wise – next year could be much colder and in turn heating oil usage could be much higher.
Having an efficient boiler will increase the length of time that your heating oil will last. Many new condensing boilers operate at 90%+ efficiency, while many older boilers operate around 60-70%. Replacing you old boiler with a new one can be expensive (£1,000+ for just the boiler), so if this is not an option we really recommend having an annual boiler service by a qualified OFTEC technician. This will ensure that your boiler will run as efficiently as it can and you may get a couple of extra weeks out of your oil.
If your house is well insulated, you will generally spend less money as the heat is retained in the house, rather than being lost through the roof, windows and walls etc. Low cost ways of improving home insulation include draught excluders, hot water tank jackets and loft insulation, while solid / cavity wall insulation and double glazed windows are more expensive ways of improving your homes insulation levels.
Size / type of house
This is an important factor when it comes to energy usage. If you live in a large detached home, it is more likely to use additional energy when compared to a smaller terraced house. Consider turning off radiators in rooms which aren’t used to keep your oil tank full for as long as possible. If you are moving house, remember there will be multiple changes (older boiler / insulation / size of house etc) and your fuel may not last for as long as you are used to. If you are moving home, you may wish to view the EPC rating which rates the home’s performance in terms of energy use per square metre of floor area, energy efficiency based on fuel costs, and environmental impact based on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The higher the number the more energy efficient the home is and the lower the fuel bills will be.
Homes with young or elderly people generally tend to have their home warmer than those without. If you have just retired or are welcoming a new member to the family this may substantially increase your household fuel consumption. It is likely that you will be around the home more and in winter have the heating on for longer periods.
To summarize, due to the high number of variables, it is almost impossible for us to tell you how long you can expect your oil to last. However, with ValueOils you can look up old orders to establish a guideline for how long previous oil orders have lasted. You can use this as a basis for what to expect with your next order, but don’t forget to check your tank more regularly if there is a cold snap. If you can implement any low cost insulation methods, these will all help your fuel last longer, as will an annual boiler service.
By Andrew Higgins