Tips for Buying a Home with Oil Heating

If you are considering buying a house with central oil heating, or are new to the world of domestic heating oil, there are a number of checks you will need to make to ensure your heating oil system runs efficiently as possible.

We will look at all the key factors to consider before buying a home with oil heating, including:

  • questions you can ask before buying a home with oil heating
  • key documentation to request
  • tips on running a home with heating oil, including -
  • oil tank storage
  • the boiler system
  • heating oil system insurance
  • costs of running a home with heating oil
  • servicing and repairs
  • heating oil suppliers and heating controls

Let’s dive in!

Top Tips for Buying a House with Central Oil Heating

Tip 1: Heating Oil Tanks

A heating oil tank is where all of the heating oil is stored and is attached via a pipe to an oil boiler within the home. There are a number of considerations to make when it comes to a home heating oil tank:

  • Location of the Oil Tank

Most heating oil tanks are kept outside, often in the garden. However, some oil tanks can be found in a garage or out-house. The location of the oil tank must follow strict building regulations to ensure it is stored safely, and protected from fires and heat sources.

You should have access to the building regulations compliance certificate which will prove the installation of the tank was carried out by a registered OFTEC (oil firing technical association) engineer, and that it complies with building regulations. It is possible to order a new OFTEC certificate if it has been lost.

You must also ensure the base of the tank is providing strong support. Generally, concrete, paving slabs, or stonework is the best base to sit a tank on top. You can find the specifics relating to distances from buildings, fences, windows, doors, and other structures with OFTEC’s guide to oil tank storage.

  • How Accessible is the Oil Tank?

The location of the oil tank will impact how accessible it is for your oil deliveries. This is crucial for deliveries to take place safely. Also, as there is no need to be home when you are expecting a delivery of home heating oil, ensuring the oil tank is in an easy to access location will afford more flexibility when selecting a delivery slot.

  • How Secure is the Oil Tank?

While it can be helpful to have an oil tank placed in an accessible location for deliveries, you must also consider the security of your heating oil within the tank. There may be a risk of theft, particularly with the recent hike in home heating oil prices, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to provide the best protection.

Our guide to fuel security identifies what you should consider when looking at the security of your oil tank including making use of heavy-duty lockable lids to ensure extra heating oil security.

  • What Type of Oil Tank is it?

It is now a legal requirement that all new domestic oil tanks must now be bunded. If the oil tank is due for an upgrade, it must be bunded to comply with national regulations. So, be sure to check the age and type of oil tank at the property, as you may need to factor in the budget to replace it.

A bunded tank is essentially a tank within another tank. Heating oil is stored within the inner tank, while the outer tank provides an extra layer of protection for your heating oil in case of leakages or damage to the inner tank. Bunded tanks provide a safe solution for storing your heating oil, and are available in plastic and steel.

  • How Old is the Oil Tank?

Most bunded tanks offer a warranty to provide extra peace of mind, and have a life expectancy of around 20 years if kept above ground. You should ask the sellers of the property to provide you with the tank’s warranty. You should also factor in the age of the tank in case you need to replace it in the near future.

  • Is the Oil Tank Well Maintained?

Before buying a home with oil heating, make sure to check the overall health of the oil tank to identify if it has been well maintained. A poorly maintained oil tank may show signs of rust, cracking, or bulging, signalling potential leaks and a lack of regular servicing and maintenance. Ensure any previous servicing and repair have been carried out by an accredited professional, and request this documentation.

An annual health check of your heating oil tank must be carried out, and again after periods of extreme weather. The engineer will look at the overall condition, dip check for the presence of water in the tank, treat your tank with anti-bug and add additives to prevent microbial growth, replace worn tubing, and ensure the contents gauge is working effectively.

You can also make regular checks yourself to help maintain the health of your oil tank. Look for bulging, rust, leaks, and safety by checking plants, trees, fences, and buildings are not too close.

Tip 2: Heating Oil Insurance

Many home insurers don’t cover oil boilers and home heating systems as standard, while insurers who do provide this cover may only cover up to a set price, typically between £1000 and £2000 worth of domestic heating oil.

  • What Kind of Heating Oil Insurance Will I Need?

Consider accidental damage cover, damage to neighbouring properties, and covering clean-up costs in case of spillages, damage to the system, and theft, which can be extremely expensive. Seeking a quote before buying a home with oil heating will provide a better understanding of the level of insurance you can receive for the heating oil and the costs.

  • What Are the Benefits of Heating Oil Insurance?

Ensuring you take out heating oil insurance will offer peace of mind and avoid any unpleasant and costly surprises in the event of a fault or breakdown.

Tip 3: Boiler and Heating Oil System

The next step before buying a house with central oil heating would be to check the boiler and heating oil system. You will want to know the following:

  • How Old is the Oil Boiler and Heating System?

Modern condensing boilers have the highest lifespan of around 15 years. If the boiler is older than this, it would be considered less fuel efficient, and it may be worth replacing it. You will then want to consider the cost of replacing the oil boiler, which can typically be between £2,500 and £4,500 or more depending on the size of your property.

  • What Certificates Should an Oil Boiler Have?

You should request the boiler’s building regulations compliance certificate – this will have been supplied when the boiler was fitted. If there’s no certificate, it could indicate the boiler was not installed in compliance with building regulations.

  • Is the Oil Boiler and Heating Oil System Well-maintained?

If the oil boiler and heating system has had an annual service, it is likely the system has been well-maintained and cared for to ensure efficiency and safety. After each safety check, a safety record will be supplied as evidence of a completed check, so ask the sellers for this to be provided.

  • How Do You Maintain an Oil Boiler and Heating System?

You will need to maintain your oil boiler with regular servicing carried out by fully-qualified OFTEC-registered engineers.

If the boiler is under warranty, an annual boiler service will ensure the validity of the warranty, and provide peace of mind in the event of breakdown or fault.

  • How Much Does an Oil Boiler Service Cost?

The cost of an oil boiler service will depend on the provider you choose to carry out the servicing. On average, an annual boiler service can cost between £60 to £250.

  • What Are the Benefits of a Regular Oil Boiler Service?

A regular service will ensure your oil boiler is running efficiently to reduce excessive fuel consumption. It will also ensure it is safe and well-maintained to prevent the chance a carbon monoxide leak. A regular service can prevent unexpected costs and increase the lifespan on the boiler by up to 10-15 years.

Tip 4: Cost of Buying Home Heating Oil

In January 2023, the average cost of home heating oil was 87.384 pence per litre. An average home will generally consume within 2-3 tanks of heating oil a year. That’s approximately 2,500 litres, equalling an annual cost of £2,184.60, excluding delivery fees.

  • How Much Heating Oil Will I Need?

Before buying a home with oil heating, ask the current homeowners how much heating oil they use and how frequently they require a top-up. This will give you a good indication of how much you will need in the same property. However, it’s important to remember that each household will use different amounts of heating oil depending on a number of variables, including the number of occupants and the amount of time spent at home. Our heating oil usage calculator provides a handy tool to help you work out how much heating oil can you expect to use.  

  • Will I Need a Heating Oil Delivery Before Moving in?

It’s important to check whether you will need to place an order for heating oil before moving into your new property. Ask the current homeowners if any oil will be left after they have moved out. If there will only be a small amount of heating oil left, or not at all, make sure you place an order for heating oil as far in advance as possible to ensure you have the necessary fuel to keep your home heated, and to avoid the costly expenses of an emergency delivery. This is especially crucial if you are moving house during the colder months.

  • How Do I Get the Best Price?

There are ways in which you can save money on your heating oil and get the best price, including knowing when the best time to buy your heating oil is, and how to pay for it.

  • How Often Will I Need to Order Heating Oil?

This will depend upon your usage. Seasonality plays a big part in how much and when to order heating oil, as more orders are typically placed just before the cold months, and fewer during the warmer months. Our guide to buying home heating oil takes you through the process of making your first purchase of heating oil.

Tip 5: Heating Oil Suppliers

It can seem overwhelming when choosing the right heating oil supplier. There are a few considerations to make if you plan to choose a new supplier or want to make sure your current supplier is providing you with the best service. This includes the following:

  • What Are the Supplier’s Online Ratings and Reviews?

It can be helpful to check out what the suppliers customers are saying and the experiences they have had. You can explore a suppliers online ratings and customer reviews through a quick online search, on Feefo, Trustpilot, or, by going direct to the supplier’s reviews on their website.

  • Where Are Their Service Locations?

Make sure to check a supplier’s locations to ensure the services will be available to you. You can find your local depot on the supplier’s website. This will offer a breakdown of the fuels and services on offer for specific locations, as well as their ability to access more rural areas.

  • What Services and Support Can the Supplier Provide?

It is important to choose a heating oil supplier who can provide a reliable service, including emergency heating oil deliveries, heating oil system services, and health checks. What’s more, to help with the costs of heating oil, check to see if a supplier offers monthly payment plans to help spread the cost of heating your home, particularly throughout the colder months. This will help to alleviate some of the financial pressures of making upfront payments for your heating oil.

  • How Do I Begin the Process Once I Have Chosen a Supplier?

Step 1: To begin the process of ordering heating oil with Rix, you will need to request a heating oil quote by answering a few simple questions. This will help the supplier understand your needs and provide you with an idea of the cost.

Step 2: Once you are happy with your chosen supplier and the cost of the heating oil, simply book a delivery date and time. If you are moving into a new property, and depending on if any oil will be left by the previous owners, we recommend booking a delivery prior to moving in to ensure you are ready to go right away.

As long as your heating oil tank is in an accessible location, it is not always necessary to be at home to take delivery of your heating oil. A receipt of your delivery will confirm the exact amount of oil that was delivered.

Tip 6: Controlling Your Heating Oil System

If you are considering buying a home with oil heating, you’ll likely be wondering what the best way to control and manage your oil heating system is.

An oil heating system can be controlled by the following:

  • The Boiler On/Off Switch

It may seem obvious, but not all boilers can be switched off when not in use if they are also used to provide hot water. Some boilers enable you to switch the heating off while keeping the hot water on, and can help provide an extra level of heating control.

  • Temperature Control

Many boilers allow you to set a base temperature for your heating and hot water to allow for greater efficiency, allowing you to lower the temperature during warmer months and increase the temperature during colder months. We recommend you set a minimum temperature of 65 degrees Celsius for any oil boiler.

  • Mechanical and Digital Boiler Timers

Timers can be used to set when the boiler will switch on and off throughout the day. Most mechanical boiler timers will switch on and off at the same times every day, while digital boiler timers will allow users to set different timers for each day of the week. This is ideal for those with varying work/at home patterns.

  • Central Heating Controls

A thermostat will switch the heating on and off depending on the temperature of the room it is sitting within and the temperature it has been set to. A programmable thermostat can be adjusted to reach different temperatures at different times of the day.

  • Thermostatic Radiator Valves

A thermostatic radiator valve detects local room temperature and controls the flow of hot water within the radiator. These are separate to the boiler and only control the radiator they are attached to.

  • Oil Tank Controls

You can also check the level of the heating oil within your tank using either a dipstick, sight gauge, float gauge or a digital monitor. This will enable you to keep a close eye on usage and avoid the need for emergency fuel deliveries.

Using our essential top tips for buying a home with oil heating will take the stress out of venturing into the world of home heating oil, and allow you to feel confident that you are prepared to get the most out of your new heating oil system.

As a family owned business, we have years of experience guiding new and existing customers through the process of buying heating oil, with a friendly team on hand to offer help and advice. Don’t hesitate to contact your local depot today, we’re always happy to chat.

Alternatively, you can explore our domestic heating services to meet all your home heating needs.