How to get cheap heating oil

With prices climbing, getting a good deal on heating oil can be tough. Here are our 8 top tips on cutting your heating oil costs.

Updated on 20 May 2015.

Handyman fixing radiator in home

If you're one of the 1.5 million customers who use domestic oil to heat your home you probably feel like part of a forgotten minority.

While it's never been easier to compare gas and electricity tariffs, getting the best oil price is somewhat trickier.

With prices shooting up following another cold winter and trouble in the Middle East, it's even more important to ensure you're getting the best deal.

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However, there are a number of ways you can slash the cost of your oil. Here are our top tips:

1. Compare quotes for cheap heating oil

Shopping around is the best way to ensure you're getting the best price when ordering your oil.

Get several different quotes from different oil delivery companies for the type and exact amount of oil you want to order. Remember to factor delivery charges in to the cost when you're working out which is cheapest.

Here are some of the main oil delivery companies you may want to try:

  • Emo Oils, Southern Counties (under one group) - Nationwide
  • Boiler Juice - Nationwide
  • Fuel Fighter - Nationwide
  • Oilprice check - Nationwide
  • Compare Fuel Oil - Nationwide
  • Pilkington Oils - Northern England
  • Maxol Direct - Northern Ireland
  • Silvery - South West England
  • Northover fuels - South England
  • Watson Fuels - England

2. Buy in the summer

As with any market, oil prices reflect the balance between supply and demand.

As a result prices for oil tend to be at their lowest during the summer, when people don't need to use it.

If you can order your oil in the summer there's a good chance you could make significant savings.

3. Maintain & monitor your tank

In order to keep your oil tank operating at maximum efficiency you'll need to ensure it is serviced every 12 months. Although you may need to spend to save, the amount of money you will save by repairing and maintaining your tank should easily outweigh any outlay.

If you have a leaky oil tank you will be losing money drip by drip, so make sure your check for leaks on a regular basis, perhaps by placing a white sheet beneath the boiler.

You will also need to change replaceable parts of your boiler at regular intervals to make sure it remains efficient. The oil nozzle and fuel filters will need to be changed at least once a year, while the flexible fuel pipe may need to be changed every 3 years to avoid oil leaks; all these parts should be checked when your boiler is serviced.

Servicing and replacing worn parts annually will not only maintain your boilers' efficiency, saving you money, but should also extend the life of the boiler itself.

You can find your nearest qualified technician on the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors website or the OFTEC website.

4. Order in bulk

Placing several small orders for oil each year will increase your cost so it makes financial sense to order in the largest quantity your oil tank can accommodate.

Most companies require a minimum order of 500 litres, however if you order more than 1000 litres then prices do start to drop.

Although you are unlikely to see massive reductions, even if you only save 1p per litre, over 1000 litres you'll be saving 10 each time you order.

5. Order as a group

Some oil suppliers offer group discounts if you order your oil at the same time as others in your delivery area. So, in theory, you can get together with other households nearby and take full advantage of this type of discount.

For most oil providers all you need to do is order your oil for delivery on the same day as other customers nearby and your group discount will automatically be applied.

Although this can be a great way to cut the price of an order it shouldn't stop you from shopping around or waiting until you can order a full tank to reduce the price.

6. Be careful how you pay

You need to be careful how you pay for your oil as some providers charge extra if you pay with a credit card rather than a debit card, or split the payments by direct debit rather than paying in full upfront.

Monthly payment plans are often the basis of a sole-supplier agreement with a company; they will monitor and deliver you oil when it's need for a fixed period. Although this can be a convenient way to replenish your oil supply it can mean you're tied to one supplier and that you can't control when, how much and who you order your oil from.

If you still want to spread the cost, without tying yourself into an agreement, read our guide: 4 Ways to Borrow Without Paying Interest.

7. Keep it safe

With oil prices jumping by more than 70% recently, private oil supplies are being targeted by thieves.

With the cost of replacing a tank of oil costing hundreds of pounds you need to ensure your tank is in a safe location, out of sight and ideally behind locked doors. You can also install a tank alarm which will monitor your oil level and raise the alarm should there be an abnormal drop in volume, be that from a leak, fault or theft.

8. Insulate, insulate, insulate

Making sure your home and your oil tank are sufficiently insulated is an effective way to cut you heating costs as you'll need to use less oil to keep your home warm.

For instance, the efficiency of your oil heater can improve dramatically if you insulate the tank and pipes, as heat isn't being lost before it even reaches your home.

Equally installing loft and cavity wall insulation throughout your home could dramatically reduce your oil consumption as heat is not lost through the walls and roof.

You should also look to cut your energy usage throughout your home, read our guide for 6 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Bills Instantly.

9. Check you're covered

Replacing a tank of oil or a damaged boiler can be a significant expense to deal with and although some home insurance policies will cover your oil tank and boiler, others won't.

So check your current home and contents insurance terms and conditions to see if you are protected by your policy.

If you find you're not, contact your insurer directly to discuss adding the cover to your existing policy - this could be in the form of a home emergency add-on.  Although you may have to pay a little extra, it could prove vital if something serious happened to your boiler.

Be Warned: Most home emergency policies will only cover you if you continue to get your boiler and oil tank serviced at regular intervals, if you fail to do this you may find you're not covered.

You can compare home insurance policies using our Home Insurance table.

Find out more about spending less on energy in our guide Top 10 tips for cutting your energy bills.

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Compare Dual Fuel Suppliers
You can make big savings quickly when you switch your gas and electricity supplier. Compare the cheapest dual fuel energy deals to see how much you could save.
Compare Dual Fuel Suppliers

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