Heating Oil: The Ultimate, No-Nonsense Guide

Heating oil, commonly known as kerosene, is used by many businesses and off-the-grid homes across the UK. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with the heating fuel, this guide covers the nitty-gritties, including its different variations, uses and how to get the best heating oil price.

heating oil guide

Heating oil, commonly known as kerosene, is used by many businesses and off-the-grid homes across the UK. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with the heating fuel, this guide covers the nitty-gritties, including its different variations, uses and how to get the best heating oil price.

What is heating oil?

Heating oil is a blanket term that refers to a wide array of fuel formulas used to power heating applications in central heating systems. As a leading UK fuel supplier, Speedy Fuels is familiar with the large range of names it receives, including:

  • Kerosene
  • Burning oil
  • Paraffin
  • 28-second oil
  • Standard kero
  • Fuel oil
  • C2 kero

How is heating oil made?

Heating oil is made from petroleum through a production process called fractional distillation. This heats crude oil at extremely high temperatures in a fractionating column and separates the compounds of crude oil to form a thin, clear oil with a 0.82g/cm3 density. Heating oil condenses at around 250oC – 350oC.

Are heating oil and diesel the same?

When it comes to heating oil and diesel, both fuels have their specific uses. However, with many comparable characteristics, they can be substituted without any boiler issues. Regardless, there are some differences between the two which are worth discussing.

Both diesel and heating oil are midlevel distillations of petroleum that produce a similar amount of heat and can therefore be burned by the same systems without burner modifications.

Heating oil is slightly heavier than diesel and therefore provides more heat without burning as much fuel in the process. This makes it more desirable and cost-effective than diesel in heating applications.

What are the different types of heating oil?

There are various types of heating oil:

  • Gas oil: also known as red diesel, is commonly used for agricultural and commercial use
  • Kerosene: also known as 28-second oil or home heating oil, is a lighter oil used in homes and businesses
  • Industrial heating oil: a commercial heating oil, also called Speedy Flame, which has been made specifically for industrial boilers, heaters, dryers and furnaces
  • Kleenburn kerosene: as its name suggests, a clean-burning heating oil which is less harmful to the planet than regular kerosene
  • Furnace fuel: commonly used in public buildings such as schools and universities. It’s fully compliant to BS EN 2969 Class D parameters (the British Approved Standard) and can be used in any commercial boiler

What is heating oil used for?

Heating oil can be used to heat off-the-grid homes (domestic heating oil) as well as commercial premises (Speedy Flame) such as factories, warehouses, grain dryers, schools and colleges.

heating oil

What is red diesel used for?

Red diesel is commonly used in construction and agriculture in tractors, cranes, generators and bulldozers. It’s also used to power generators at large scale events such as festivals and carnivals. Red diesel must never be used in road vehicles as this is against the law and considered tax evasion.

Many businesses use red diesel as heating oil because they are not aware of a more cost-effective fuel: Speedy Flame. This industrial heating oil can be used as an alternative to Class A2 and Class D Gas Oil and is blended in-house, ensuring it’s one of the highest quality and most competitive IHO products on the market.

Furthermore, with an increase in legally binding environmental targets, organisations are now swapping their diesel and heating oil for an advanced renewable fuel called HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil). This diesel alternative boasts a much longer lifespan and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by around 90%.

What is the flashpoint of heating oil?

Kerosene and gas oil differ in viscosity and as a result, have different flashpoints.

  • Kerosene: 38-43oC
  • Gas oil: 56oC

How do I buy heating oil?

It’s never been easier to buy heating oil. Simply call 0330 123 5665 today and a member of the team will provide you with a competitive quote.

Once the order has been placed, we will deliver your heating oil straight to your door within 2 working days.

If you need your heating oil supply sooner, you can also take advantage of our emergency delivery service which is available 365 days a year, day and night, ensuring you receive your fuel in just a few hours.

Will heating oil work in a diesel engine?

Heating Oil is an acceptable replacement for diesel in almost all furnaces.

Any business that uses red diesel in heating applications can make the switch to Speedy Flame industrial heating oil. It’s fully miscible with gas oil, so there’s no need to empty tanks before transitioning to Speedy Flame.

What are the benefits of using industrial heating oil?

  • Compatible with BS2869 Class A2 10 ppm & Class D 1000 ppm (except for Cetane Value) – British standard for heating oil
  • Equal calorific value to gas oil
  • Equal physical properties to gas oil – no modifications required for your burner
  • No need to empty gas oil tanks before swapping over to Speedy Flame as it is completely miscible
  • Low CFPP/pour point – allows all-year-round performance, so no winter or summer variant needed
  • Reduced sulphur content – lowers acidic flue gas emissions by up to 50%
  • FAME/biodiesel free – reduced chance of a bacterial attack on the stored fuel
    Contains multi-functional additive – provides fuel system cleanliness & corrosion protection, along with reduced emissions and combustion chamber deposit control
  • Light colour, low odour, sediment-free – much cleaner than some commercially available products

How much heating oil can I buy?

If you’re looking to use Speedy Flame or heating oil for commercial use, you can purchase any required quantity, from 205-litre barrels up to bulk amounts of over 36,000 litres. We also supply a wide range of fuel tanks to ensure the safe handling and storage of your heating oil.

If you’re in need of home heating oil, please note there is a minimum order of 500 litres per delivery.

What are the regulations around storing heating oil?

When storing heating oil, there are stringent rules and regulations that surround its use. Read our information on Fuel Storage Regulations which cover storing heating oil at both your home and business premises.

If you’re storing up to 3,500 litres at home, you must follow the domestic regulations; however, if you’re storing any more than this, you must follow the regulations set out for businesses.

Does heating oil go bad?

Heating oil can last around 1-2 years as long as the storage tank is intact and in good condition. It’s important to note that if you store heating oil for any longer than a year, you must get it tested by a professional company to avoid contamination that risks damaging your boiler.

Discover the importance of regular fuel analysis to help prevent costly issues and problems with your fuels and equipment.

If you suspect contamination in your heating oil tank, get in touch with Speedy Fuels as soon as possible on 0330 123 5665 to avoid going cold this winter.

Which heating oil tank is best?

Heating oil tanks are made from either steel or plastic and can be installed above or underground. They can be single-skinned, double-skinned (where the tank has two layers) or integrally bunded (where the tank has an outer layer of protection).

As integrally bunded tanks are essentially one tank that sits inside another, they provide better protection than double-skinned tanks as there is more room between the two layers to prevent oil into escaping into the environment.

Keeping your tank well maintained will ensure fuel efficiency, which in turn, keeps costs and the risk of breakdowns low.

Steel tanks

  • Long-lasting: durable and resilient to damage from UV rays and the elements
  • Increased security: heavier and harder to drill and syphon the oil
  • Bigger capacity: generally larger than plastic tanks, allowing you to take advantage of cheaper oil prices from bulk buying
  • Shelf life of up to 20 years if well maintained

Plastic tanks

  • Lightweight: more manoeuvrable and easier to transport
  • Insulator: slows the transfer of heat from the environment to the inside of the tank
  • Minimal risk of rusting: rust particles can form in steel tanks, which can eventually clog filters
  • Shelf life of up to 10 years if well maintained

If you own a plastic tank, read our article – Can Damaged Plastic Oil Tanks be Repaired for advice on how to take care of your plastic tank.

Can heating oil catch fire?

Due to its lack of fuel vapour, heating oil is considered the safest form of heat as it will not explode or get hot enough to ignite and catch fire, therefore providing heat quickly, safely and cost-effectively.

Can heating oil freeze?

Heating oil technically doesn’t ‘freeze’ in terms of becoming a solid mass. But if the temperature falls below -30oC, the paraffin content of the oil will begin to gel due to waxing, making it less free-flowing. This can clog pipework and slow the fuel down as it flows from your tank to the boiler. However, this is highly unlikely to occur in the UK as we tend to have very mild winters.

Nevertheless, if water condensation has formed in your oil tank (which is extremely common in heating oil tanks) it is highly susceptible to freezing. As the water freezes, it can block fuel supply lines, preventing the oil from travelling to the boiler and heating your home or business.

To prevent this from happening, you must have your fuel supply system checked at least once a year by a professional company.

If you’re using heating oil in a commercial application, you should consider Speedy Flame (industrial heating oil). With a low pour point of -25oC, it’s suitable for year-round use with a significantly reduced risk of gelling.

What happens if I run out of heating oil?

Running out of heating oil won’t damage your boiler or furnace. But it risks your home or business premises going cold f you don’t let your tank run dry.

If you run out of heating oil, call 0330 123 5665 straight away and we can arrange a delivery straight to your door within 48 hours of placing an order.

If you can’t wait that long, you can take advantage of our emergency delivery service which will ensure it’s with you in just a few hours.

How much does heating oil cost?

The price of heating oil can vary significantly over time. In 2016, it remained between 30 and 35p per litre, rising to almost 55p per litre at the end of 2018 and staying at around 50p per litre until January 2020.

However, the Coronavirus pandemic saw heating oil prices fall dramatically during spring and summer of 2020 to a 5-year low of just 25p per litre in July 2020.

What affects heating oil prices?

There are many factors that contribute to heating oil price fluctuations, including:

  • Conflict in oil producing countries
  • Increase in demand
  • OPEC
  • Exchange rates
  • The weather
  • Crude oil prices
  • Distribution and delivery costs
  • Refining costs
  • VAT rates

Is home heating oil cheaper in the summer?

Typically, heating oil is cheaper during the summer months as the demand is greatly reduced. Ordering heating oil before the UK temperature drops will also ensure that your tank is topped up in plenty of time ahead of the colder months when fuel companies get busier and delivery times could be a little longer.

Heating oil prices

At Speedy Fuels, we always aim to provide the most competitive prices on all our heating oil products. Sign up to our free fuel management service by simply opting in when placing an order. This will ensure you receive deliveries when prices are at a low, helping you keep those overheads down.

For more information on heating oil or to place an order, call 0330 123 5665 and speak to a member of the team today.