8 top tips to help choose your heating oil supplier this winter
Wed, November 06, 2019 - 11:10:00
With the clocks going back last week, you can almost smell the burning dust on radiators all over the UK, as homeowners turn on their heating for the first time in around six months in preparation for winter. If you rely on heating oil for your home’s warmth, then your oil tank’s contents are set to take a dip over the coming period so it’s time to consider where your next fuel delivery is coming from!
Even if you already have an appointed fuel supplier, like with other energy bills and insurance, it is important that you review your choice of supplier annually as a lot can change in a year. To help you on your way, here we talk through 8 top tips to help you choose the best heating oil supplier this winter.
1. Find your local fuel distributors
First thing’s first, start with identifying the fuel suppliers that deliver to your location! A quick Google search may do, but by simply entering your postcode into the Oil Save distributor search, you can find distributors within 50 miles of your home, all of which comply with the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association code of practice.
As the trade association for liquid fuel distribution, UKIFDA promote best practice throughout the industry when it comes to safety, quality and competency. Choosing one of the many members across the UK and Ireland will give you peace of mind that your heating oil supplier performs to a certain standard.
2. Gather some quotes and compare the market
As you know with your car insurance, prices can vary greatly depending upon the supplier, so it’s always worth taking the time to gather a few quotations from your shortlisted local companies. Get a quotation based upon ¾ of your tank’s capacity, this allows for some remaining oil in your tank when you receive a delivery. So, say you have a 2000 litre tank, get a quote for 1500 litres as this would be an educated guess as to what you would order.
Be sure you’re comparing apples for apples though! If you’ve had a quote for standard kerosene from one supplier, make sure your next quote is for the same and not a premium fuel.
3. Short for time? Consider an online heating oil provider
We get it, obtaining a large number of quotes can be time consuming. If you just know you’ll never get around to contacting lots of fuel suppliers, then take a look at one of the online heating oil provider sites such as Boiler Juice or Home Fuels Direct.
By simply providing your location and the number of litres of fuel you are looking at, these online companies will email you the cheapest quote from their database of fuel distributors. It’s important to note though, that whilst this is a quick and simple way of finding the cheapest supplier, you’ll be dealing with a middleman rather than direct with the oil supplier.
4. Remember, price isn’t everything!
When it’s money that makes the world go around it’s understandable why you might immediately lean towards the cheapest fuel supplier. However, when it comes to your home’s heating, price shouldn’t be the only factor to consider. Imagine running out of oil and having no heating because a delivery didn’t arrive on time…it’s ok because it was cheaper though, right?
Before you make a decision, take a quick look at online review sites such as Trustpilot to gauge how reliable previous customers have found them, or ask around your local area for other’s experiences! Some smaller fuel companies can be more marginally more expensive but may also go the extra mile for their customers as they aren’t just one of many.
5. Double check the supplier can get to you!
If you live in a difficult to access location, perhaps round a particularly severe corner on a tight country lane, or you leave near a low bridge with weight restrictions, then make sure any new suppliers you are considering are aware of this. If this is the case, a standard fuel tanker may be too large and difficult to manoeuvre to be able to access your property and delivery won’t be made. For situations like this, many fuel suppliers have a baby tanker that they can send out.
6. Have a look if there’s an oil buying club in your area
Local oil buying clubs have become common throughout the UK and Ireland as the premise is quite simple. By joining up with other homeowners in your village and ordering your heating oil together, you are often able to obtain preferential pricing from suppliers for delivery to the same postcode on the same day. Find out from your neighbours or local town council if there is a buying club in your area.
7. Consider the supplier payment options
Unlike gas, where most homeowners opt to pay a monthly direct debit for their fuel usage, heating oil deliveries are made in bulk. Many suppliers have a minimum delivery of 500 litres, which based upon today’s oil price is around £250. Some larger fuel distributors are now offering monthly payment plans, where the cost of your oil delivery can be spread across a few months. This may be a deciding factor for some homeowners that find the quite large outlay in one go difficult.
8. Think about the ordering of a new delivery
Most customers are happy to monitor their oil tank gauge and call their fuel supplier when they need a delivery. However, if you want to be relieved of the responsibility of remembering, perhaps you have a holiday home that isn’t always lived in, then some suppliers offer automatic ordering through telemetry systems. These systems essentially send an alert to your oil supplier informing them that the tank’s reached the agreed low level and that a delivery is required. Not all companies do this though, so if you’re interested, it could sway your decision!
So there you go! You’ve read our 8 handy tips to consider when choosing your heating oil supplier. By taking note of these, you’ll without doubt find the best value supplier for your fuel requirements.
Photo “BF10359” by Lav Ulv (CC BY 2.0)
Infographic "Tanker Size" recreated from original by ValueOils (CC BY 2.0)