Heating Oil Frequently Asked Questions

Over 1.5 million off-the-grid homes rely on heating oil to keep their homes toasty all year round. With many rules and complexities surrounding the heating fuel for both domestic and commercial use, read our heating oil guide to ensure you are using the correct product for your heating system.

Heating oil guide

Table of Contents:

Q: What is heating oil?

Heating oil is the fuel used in heating applications within central heating systems and can refer to both industrial heating oil and kerosene.

Industrial heating oil is usually used for commercial and agricultural use, whereas kerosene (28-second oil) is much lighter and is commonly used as home heating oil.

Q: What are the different types of heating oil?

  • Red diesel – most commonly used in agricultural businesses as it’s cheaper than derv (white diesel) due to being a rebated fuel.
  • Kerosene – mainly used as home heating as it’s much lighter than diesel.
  • Industrial heating oil – a cost-effective alternative to diesel that’s intended specifically for use in commercial heating applications.
  • Kleenburn kerosene – a much cleaner option than regular kerosene. While slightly higher in price, its quality is superior and it’s significantly better for the environment, keeping emissions low.
  • Furnace fuel – can be used in all commercial boilers and is usually used in municipal buildings such as schools and universities. It’s fully compliant to BS EN 2869 Class D parameters, the British Approved Standard for heating oil.

  • Q: Is heating oil the same as kerosene?

    Yes, kerosene is also known as heating oil and is the most popular fuel used in domestic central heating systems. Its year-round performance, affordability and cleaner, more efficient burn properties are far superior than diesel.

    Q: What is heating oil used for?

    Heating oil is used by over 1.5 million homes across the UK as it’s clean burning and has good winter performance properties. Diesel is commonly used to heat businesses as it is widely available to the market.

    Many businesses may not be aware of Industrial Heating Oil, a drop-in replacement for any diesel used to generate heat at a fraction of the price and is made specifically for use in commercial boilers

    With an identical calorific value to diesel, IHO generates an equal amount of energy and requires no modifications to systems to make the switch.

    To find out more about IHO, call 0330 123 1144 today.

    Q: Can kerosene be used in engines?

    It is illegal for kerosene to be used in any kind of vehicle at any quantity without licensing from HMRC. It is usually vintage car owners where the vehicles require a kerosene and road fuel mix.

    Q: How is kerosene made?

    Kerosene is made from the fractional distillation of crude oil which separates the compounds of crude oil. To produce kerosene, crude oil is distilled in a distillation tower, similar to how diesel is created, which leaves a clear and thin oil with a density of 0.82g/cm3.

    Q: What colour is heating oil?

    The colour of heating oil varies depending on the type of oil used by your boiler.Kerosene is a pale yellow, whilst gas oil is dyed red.

    Q: Can heating oil go off?

    Heating oil needs to be inspected every year to check for contaminants that form in tanks over time.

    Water is a common substance that causes heating oil to go off quickly as it causes microbial contamination and sludge to build up in a tank. Rust and other contaminants can also contribute to oil breakdown, which is why it’s vital to ensure your tank is intact and in good condition at all times.

    Q: Can heating oil catch fire?

    The likelihood of heating oil catching fire is extremely slim. It would need to be heated to 140 degrees (an extremely intense heat) and vapourised before it catches fire.

    Q: Can heating oil freeze?

    Heating oil doesn’t technically ‘freeze’ in the sense that it becomes a solid mass but if the temperature falls below -30oC, it will turn into a gel consistency - known as waxing or gelling - and block filters and injectors.

    Q: What does heating oil smell like?

    Heating oil fumes are non-toxic and pose very little immediate risk to your health. It’s biodegradable, contains no carcinogens and is extremely stable. So although the smell of heating oil is unpleasant, there isn’t a level of urgency like the smell of gas, making heating oil one of the safest fuels to heat your home or business.

    Q: Is heating oil or diesel better for heating?

    Many businesses use diesel in their commercial heating systems. But industrial heating oil (IHO) is a much more cost-effective alternative. It has an identical calorific value to diesel meaning you generate as much energy using IHO as you would using diesel.

    Benefits of industrial heating oil:

  • Compatible and miscible with commercially available fuels
  • No burner modifications required
  • Contains additives that clean your fuel system
  • Prevents deposits and protects against corrosion
  • No chance of IHO freezing in the tank
  • Q: What are the regulations for storing heating oil?

    There are strict regulations surrounding the storage of over 3,500 litres of heating oil. If you’re storing less than this amount, you must follow the home storage regulations. Visit our oil storage regulations page for more information.

    Q: When is the best time to buy heating oil?

    We recommend buying your heating oil during the summer as prices tend to be at a low when demand is at a low. This will also ensure that your tank is topped up in plenty of time before the temperatures drop, avoiding the risk of your house going cold while waiting for a delivery.

    Q: When will heating oil prices drop?

    The price of heating oil depends on crude oil price fluctuations so it’s almost impossible to predict when prices will drop. Other factors include demand, the weather, location and Middle East conflicts.

    Q: Where can I buy heating oil?

    It’s simple – call 0330 123 1144 and a member of our team will be in touch. We can arrange a heating oil delivery straight to your door within 48 hours. Or, if you need it sooner, you can take advantage of our emergency fuel delivery service which enables it to reach you in just a few hours!

    Q: How much heating oil can I buy?

    If you’re purchasing home heating oil, the minimum delivery is 500 litres. However, we supply Industrial Heating Oil and kerosene for commercial use in quantities from 205-litre barrels up to 36,000 litres+.

    To find out more about heating oil or to place an order, call us today on 0330 123 1144.

    Q: Where can I dispose of heating oil?

    If you want to dispose of heating oil, it’s essential that you use a professional company to remove it from your site and dispose of it responsibly. Our fuel uplift service takes away the hassle of having unwanted heating oil onsite and ensures it’s disposed of within environmental legislation.

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