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What is Heating Oil

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Heating Oil

Heating Oil is a flammable petroleum-based product that is similar to diesel and which has been estimated to be used to heat around one-and-a-half million UK households. It is normally delivered by tanker and stored in both underground and ‘above surface’ oil tanks. As mentioned above, heating oil and diesel are very similar, so it is not uncommon for heating oil to be coloured yellow, whilst red diesel is dyed with (yes, you guessed it) red dye.

A barrel of crude oil is 159 litres, of which about 40 litres is distilled into heating oil. As a distillate of crude (it’s actually in the middle part of the range with petrol at the light end, and lubricants at the heavy end), the retail price of heating oil is closely related to the wholesale price of crude. As you might expect, the reason people choose heating oil is for cost and supply. Taking the standardised BTU (British Thermal Unit), heating oil’s cost is lower than for electricity powered heating, but typically a little pricier than gas-fired systems. Mind you, your energy supply is parked on your property, and filling a large tank at the right time of year (often summer) can save significant cash compared to the points in the year with the highest demand.

The Office of Fair Trading is currently examining the structure of the UK Oil Market, and determining whether customers are getting a raw deal from providers. Whatever the outcome of this review, Heating Oil is a commoditised product with a wide range of heating oil suppliers, where some research and price comparison can save the consumer money on what is (certainly for large tanks) a big ticket purchase.

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