New to oil?

If you are new to oil but are not sure where to start, this section covers the basics to help you get started.

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What is Kerosene?

Kerosene is a type of fuel that is used for everything from heating oil to aircraft. There are a number of different grades of kerosene:

    • Kerosene (28 second) is mainly used for domestic heating and range cookers.
    • Kerosene (35 second) also known as gas oil, is often used in industrial environments such as grain blowers on farms and much older heating systems.
    • Jet Fuel is the name given to kerosene that is used for aircraft.

Kerosene can also be called a number of other names including 'kero', heating oil, burning oil or paraffin.

Kerosene (28 second) is thinner and less likely to "wax up" in very cold conditionas than the thicker kerosene (35 second). You will see Antiwax additives which are often used in colder conditions to stop the kerosene waxing up.

The '28 second' is how long in seconds a given amount of kerosene at set temperature takes to pass from one vessel to another though a set size hole. It is the way kerosene is measured.

The vast majority of oil-fired boilers and cookers are fuelled by kerosene (28 second), although some older domestic boilers use kerosene (35 second- Gas Oil). If you are unsure which type of heating oil your system or range uses your will need to contact an OFTEC registered engineer in your area who will be able to advise you. Click here to locate an OFTEC approved engineer.

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I don't know what size my tank is!

For heating oil we all have a big plastic or metal tank in the garden or an outbuilding which will be above the height of the boiler (for gravity feed). Domestic tanks will typically have a capacity between 1,200 to 2,500 litres. There are smaller and larger tanks, but these are the most common sizes for domestic use.

Your tank may have a brand name or model number on it somewhere, it would be worth having a look and searching on Google to see if you can locate your tank make and model to find the capacity of it. 

If you are unable to find out the size of your tank, open the cap on the top and do a visual inspection of how much oil is in your tank (maybe use a dip stick or clean stick to see how far up the oil comes). If it is 1/2 full or less it would be safe to place an order for the minimum amount of 500L (this is the Trading Standards minimum order amount for all suppliers). That will be enough to keep you going for a little while and if you can be there when the driver arrives to deliver your oil they will be able to tell you roughly what size they think your tank is, so that you have a better idea for your future orders.

Some tanks will have a gauge which can help tell you how much oil is left in your tank. However, it is worth doing a visual check inside your tank every now and then, as we often hear of faulty gauges giving the wrong reading, so doing a manual check every now and then is a good idea.

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Heating oil prices and when to buy

As heating oil (kerosene) is a traded commodity, heating oil prices can vary from hour to hour, and day to day. In general, heating oil is reasonably more expensive in the winter than in the summer. Our advice is to fill up in the summer months and top up in the winter months. Also it’s best to try an avoid ordering at peak times such as just before Christmas and Easter. Ordering at the right times can save you £100's a year!

We recommend placing an order on your Oil-Club account when your oil levels reach 35%, (or you have 6 weeks supply in the winter months) so that you have enough oil to keep you going until your delivery arrives. This way, if there are any weather related issues such as 'The Beast from the East', which interrupted supply for three weeks across much of the country in 2018, you won't be left in the cold. If you do run out or need an emergency delivery, you will often end up paying a premium to a supplier for this service during these periods.

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How much VAT should I be paying?

The prices shown on our site for heating oil are quoted excluding VAT, as there are a number of VAT rules that can apply for different situations.

Here are the different VAT amounts:

    • Commercial users: will pay 20% VAT, regardless of the quantity ordered
    • Domestic users (up to 2,300L): when ordering under 2,300L at a time, will pay 5% VAT
    • Domestic users (over 2,300L): when ordering over 2,300L at a time, will pay 20% VAT - unless you can fill out a VAT declaration form to confirm your oil is for domestic use only, in which case you will only pay 5% VAT. You can download the VAT declaration form under the 'Your Orders' tab on your account once logged in.

The general rule is that any orders over 2,300L are considered commercial.

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How much should I order?

The minimum order quantity, which is set by Trading Standards, is 500 litres and this is the case for all suppliers. When ordering you will need to know how big your tank is and how much oil is already in the tank. If you over order and your tank can't take the full amount the supplier will issue a refund, although we do ask members to advise The Oil-Club so we can ensure a refund takes place and any overpayment is not added to your account with the supplier.

Suppliers have to abide by the minimum 500L rule set by Trading Standards, so if your tank is unable to fit 500L you may run into issues. If your tank can only fit 450L the supplier may just fill it up as and mark it as a gauge error, but if no more than 250L will fit there is a good chance the supplier will be unable to deliver any oil at all, and some will charge a non-delivery fee. If you run into this issue, please contact us so we can try and help you sort it out.

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I don't know when my tank was last checked

If you have just moved into a new house or don't have any historical information about your tank then it might be worth getting an OFTEC technician to come out and do a tank MOT to check the condition of your tank and flag any issues.

Click here to find an OFTEC technician in your area.

Tanks should be checked by an OFTEC technician once or twice a year, we recommend doing this at the start and end of every winter, as then if there are any issues you can get them sorted over the warmer summer months when you are not so reliant on your heating system. Warning signs that your tank needs servicing include rust, splits or cracks, bulging, gauges not working, tank is overgrown with foliage, strong oil smell, sudden increase in oil usage.

Oil tanks should be replaced every 15-20 years and should be checked regularly. Suppliers are now required to carry out a tank inspection before every delivery, and they will refuse delivery if a tank is considered unsafe, reasons for this could include:

    • Inadequate tank support - the support and base should be sturdy and adequate for the tank weight and size, if the base is smaller than the tank or the tank overhangs the supports the suppliers may refuse delivery
    • Too much foliage around the tank to be able to carry out a sufficient inspection
    • A number of splits or cracks will indicate risk of spillage and the tank may need replacing
    • Leaking oil
    • Rust around the base or cap
    • Bulging of the tank would indicate the tank may about to split and will need replacing

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Who are OFTEC?

OFTEC is the Oil Firing Technical Association and represent the oil heating and cooking industry in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. They help maintain excellence in the heating oil and cooking industries, and enforce a set of standards that companies and individuals have to uphold in order to be OFTEC qualified. Any technicians approved by OFTEC have to complete OFTEC training and assessment to ensure they are competent and have a high enough skill-level.

OFTEC is a not-for-profit association and was formed in 1991, replacing the former Domestic Oil Burner Equipment Testing Association (DOBETA), an organisation formed after the enforced split of Shell-mex and BP in the early 1970s. OFTEC’s original role was to write new technical standards and training manuals, and to provide a focus for the industry. When this was achieved, OFTEC’s role extended into promoting the oil fired heating and cooking sector.

See the OFTEC website for more information.

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Getting my oil delivered

Oil suppliers have a range of trucks to deliver heating oil. The bigger the truck the more cost effective the delivery. When ordering your oil you will need to know what sort of truck can access your property and how close can the truck get to the tank, ie is a longer hose required?

The two most common tanker sizes are the standard 6 wheeler tanker, and the smaller 4 wheeler which is often required in small rural communities where delivery is down country lanes and access is tight. There are also baby tankers, which are able to access the much smaller, narrower and more difficult to reach homes but often at a premium cost. In the most remote areas suppliers will have converted Land Rovers to deliver oil, but this will be at a noticeable premium!

Please note: The Oil-Club is unable to deliver with baby tankers or smaller, as we require bulk orders to get the discounts, therefore we only order with standard 6 wheelers or 4 wheelers.

Approximate tanker dimensions:*

  • 6 Wheeler Tanker
    Length: 27' 8"
    Width: 10' 10"
    Weight: Approx 26 tonnes (this varies depending on how much oil the tanker is holding)
  • 4 Wheeler Tanker
    Length: 23' 9"
    Weight: Approx 18 tonnes (this varies depending on how much oil the tanker is holding)

*Please note: these are approximate sizes, as they can differ supplier to supplier.

How long are the hoses?

Most tankers will have a hose of around 120 ft (36 meters) and/or more commonly a 150 ft (45m) hose. If you need a longer hose, many suppliers will have a vehicle with a 200 ft hose (60m) but you will need to specify this in your delivery notes.

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Tank Security

Delivery drivers need to have access to your tank when delivering, but a thief will know there is hundreds of pounds of untraceable fuel to be had, and as prices get ever more expensive the risk of theft also increases. You may wish to check your home insurance to see if it covers you should you suffer a theft or leak.

If tank security is something you are concerned about, there are things you can do to help secure your tank, such as: applying a padlock to your tank cap, adding security lighting and cameras to the tank area, or implementing a Smart Guard tank monitor which will send you a text alert if your tank level falls dramatically due to a theft or leak. All of these products can be found in our Club Store, and you can find out more information about them all there too.

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More FAQs?

For more frequently asked questions, visit our FAQs page here.

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