Consumers

These are frequently asked questions about using oil for heating or cooking. You’ll find questions on oil-fired boilers, oil storage tanks and oil supply pipes on separate pages.

You may also find additional information from our useful information page or Home Guides page.

 

Why would I choose oil for heating and cooking?

Oil is one of the cheapest fuels available for off-gas homes and over 1.5 million homes in the UK use oil for heating. It is cleaner and easier to use than solid fuel. It’s also safe, economical, and an oil-fired range in the kitchen provides a traditional style cooker combined with efficient heating.

With oil you also have a choice of suppliers and are not tied to one company, giving you the freedom to change supplier any time you top up your supply.

Isn’t oil an expensive option?

Independent analysis shows that in off-gas areas, oil heating remains a competitive option where you do not have access to the gas main. Heating your house using oil is significantly cheaper than using LPG and if you change your old, standard efficiency oil boiler to one of a condensing type, you could save over £200 per year.

Here is a comparative pricing guide.

Fuel TypeCost over 12 months*
for a 3-bedroomed house in Great Britain
Oil – standard efficiency boiler £1,619
Oil – condensing boiler £1,324
Solid fuel (anthracite) £977
Electricity £1,252
Mains Gas £876
LPG – standard efficiency boiler £2,292
LPG – condensing boiler £1,883
Wood pellets £1,316
* As compiled by Sutherland Tables for the 12 months to July 2011

How does an oil purchasing syndicate work?

A syndicate can be a good way to reduce your fuel costs, especially if you live in an off-gas area. If you have neighbours who also use oil for heating their homes or for cooking, you may be able to purchase oil more cheaply by joining or starting a syndicate.

Domestic heating oil suppliers may offer a lower unit price where a number of homes within a small area agree to have their fuel delivered on the same day from a single supplier. The supplier reduces their costs because they make only one journey for multiple deliveries and may pass some saving on to you as consumers.

It is worth asking your neighbours if they know of any syndicates in your local area or whether they would be interested in starting one.

I am not certain I am being given good advice – how can OFTEC help protect me?

If you are not sure about the quality of the oil engineer, we can help you find an OFTEC registered technician.

OFTEC Registered Businesses and their Registered Technicians are assessed and regularly inspected by OFTEC to ensure they operate within Government guidelines and in accordance with best practices. This should ensure that you are given appropriate advice.

If you think you are being given inaccurate information, you’ll find guidance in our FAQs on oil-fired boilers, oil storage tanks, and oil supply pipes or in OFTEC’s Home Guides. Alternatively, you can contact the OFTEC Technical Helpline on 0845 65 85 080 or email us – we’ll be happy to help with any questions you may have.

OFTEC has the responsibility of maintaining standards among the technicians registered with us, and if you think that a technician has not acted appropriately, you can ask us to investigate

How can I pick my way through the jargon?

This website is the best source of information without all the technical jargon. Here you can find FAQs on oil-fired boilers, oil storage tanks, and oil supply pipes, and a comprehensive range of Home Guides created with the interests of end user in mind. If you are unsure of anything, ask your OFTEC Registered Technician or contact the OFTEC Technical Helpline by phone on 0845 65 85 080 or by email.

Our ‘jargon buster’ contains definitions of oil-related terms.

How often will I need to service my boiler or cooker?

You’ll need to arrange for an oil engineer to service your boiler once a year. The service ensures that your boiler will operate at its most efficient.

An oil-fired range cooker will need to be serviced every six months.

It is recommended that you use a registered technician for all servicing works.

For more information on servicing, read our Home Guide on Why an oil fired boiler should be serviced regularly.

What do I do if I get an oil leak?

If you have your oil-fired equipment serviced regularly by a competent person and maintain your oil tank adequately, it is unlikely that oil will leak from your system. However, if you notice an oil leak:

  1. The priority is to immediately stop any more oil from being released. This may require you to have the tank professionally drained.
  2. If possible, contain any oil that has already been released.
  3. Soak up any spilled oil you can with an absorbent material, such as sand, newspapers, old towels or cat litter. Please dispose of these carefully as they will be highly inflammable.
  4. For more serious spills, contact a specialist remediation company to clean up the spill. Contact us if you would like help finding one.
  5. Inform your property insurers about the leak.
  6. Contact the regional Environmental Agency on 0800 807060 and make them aware of the incident.

How do I find a reputable company to install my oil-fired boiler or cooker?

OFTEC keeps a register of all suitably qualified, reputable oil engineers. These OFTEC Registered Technicians are registered competent persons, and will be able to install oil-fired appliances. When the technician arrives, ask to see their identity card.

To find a Registered Technician in your area, follow the link and enter your postcode, select the type of installation you require (tank, boiler, cooker etc.) and click on “Search”. This will show a list of OFTEC registered installers who are qualified do the work.

If you think that a technician has not acted appropriately, you can ask us to investigate.

What warranties should I expect?

All OFTEC Registered Companies must offer you a workmanship warranty. This workmanship warranty covers work done by Registered Technicians that is notifiable to building control.

The warranty protects you in the situation where work is found not to comply with building regulations and the contractor is no longer in business to do the necessary remedial work. The warranty is valid for six years from the date the original work was completed and allows for up to £10,000 of remedial work.

What is works notification and does it apply to me?

The Building Regulations for England, Wales, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands require Local Authority Building Control (LABC) to be notified when any oil-fired installation or commissioning works are undertaken. OFTEC registered technicians can self-certify their works and notify via OFTEC within 28 days* of the completion date, whilst non-registered technicians must ensure LABC is notified directly before the works commence.

Northern Ireland operates a scheme whereby all oil-fired installation or commissioning works must be reported to LABC before they begin.

In Scotland, a separate system is enforced by the Scottish Building Standards, whereby certain types of oil-fired installation and commissioning works require a ‘building warrant’ before they can be carried out. Further information can be found on The Scottish Government website.

Currently, works notification is not required in the Republic of Ireland.

* OFTEC should be notified of works within 21 days of completion to allow one week for the details to be sent to LABC. Applications received outside of this period will not be accepted.

What needs to be notified?

When required by building regulations (see previous FAQ), the following oil work* should be notified to Local Authority Building Control:

  • Installation of an oil storage tank
  • Installation of oil supply pipework
  • Installation/commission of an oil fired appliance (boiler, cooker, stove, etc.)
  • Installation/alteration/commission of a central heating system and associated controls
  • Installation/commission of flue liner or chimney system
  • Installation/commission of a hot water storage system (vented or unvented)

* Associated electrical works can also require notification.

How easy is it to combine oil with alternative technologies such as solar?

In most cases, integrating an existing oil heating system with a renewable technology is reasonably simple and can help to bring down the cost of your fuel bills as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

Options include solar water heating, ground and air source heat pumps, heat recovery systems and bio-fuel conversion. For further information, read our Home Guide to Renewable energy and your oil heating system.

What is the Green Deal Scheme?

The Green Deal Scheme is a Government initiative to make the UK's homes more energy efficient. The plan is due to be launched in autumn 2012 and will make it possible for millions of homes and businesses to have energy-efficiency improvements at no upfront cost. Improvements include wall, floor and loft insulation, condensing boilers, draught proofing, energy-efficient glazing and doors, electric storage heaters, solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, ground source heat pumps and wind turbines. For further information, please visit www.greendealscheme.co.uk.

What is the Renewable Heat Incentive?

The RHI is a Government payment to building owners who convert to using a renewable technology for heating. It will become fully operational in October 2012 from when it is anticipated that use of a new blended bio-liquid - which includes FAME biofuel - will receive this incentive.

OFTEC and its members have developed the new fuel which has been tested in field trials. The RHI will apply in England, Scotland and Wales, and a slightly different version in Northern Ireland. It will not apply in the Republic of Ireland. See more information.