How does an oil heating system work?

At Rix Petroleum, we understand how daunting and confusing it can be when first learning about home oil heating systems, so we’re here to give you the low-down on how everything works and comes together.

In the UK, about 1.15 million households rely on heating oil systems to enjoy hot water and keep warm throughout winter. If your home falls into this category, it’s helpful to understand how oil boilers work.

How does an oil boiler work?

An oil-fired boiler and a gas boiler function in a similar way, although their source of energy is different; oil boilers use oil to create hot water. Once the domestic oil is ignited, hot exhaust gases pass through a heat exchanger, usually a copper coil, transferring energy to the water circulating through it. This heats up the water, which is then distributed throughout the house via radiators, warming up the rooms. The hot water can also be used in your taps and showers.

Although radiators remain hot, the boiler does not operate all the time. It switches on and off depending on the boiler water outlet temperature setting on the boiler and the room temperature where the thermostat is located.

If the heating oil system is switched on, water continually circulates throughout the boiler, heat exchanger and radiators extracting heat from the burning fuel.

Oil heating system storage

For oil fired central heating to work, you need to store your home heating oil in a specialised tank. With a gas boiler, you’re connected to the mains and therefore have a constant supply of fuel. With an oil boiler, you store your oil until you need it.

There are various types of tanks available for you to choose from and you should take care to set up your tank in a way to deter heating oil thieves. There are also OFTEC oil tank safety regulations you should follow.  

To ensure you’re heating your home with oil efficiently and safely, you should have your boiler serviced and your tank checked by qualified OFTEC engineers at regular intervals. At Rix Heating Services, all our heating oil engineers are qualified by OFTEC to meet the highest standards.

It’s also advised to monitor your heating oil tank so you can stay on top of ordering deliveries, avoid arranging emergency supplies and track your heating oil use.

Is it expensive to heat a home with oil?

Although an oil heating system tends to be slightly more costly than gas, the cost of oil is still relatively low and it’s an efficient fuel. If you know the best tips for saving money on your heating oil and conserving oil, then you should be able to keep your costs down.

Heating oil fluctuates in price due to several factors including weather, delivery dates, global events, exchange rates and more. Although these events are not always predictable, it’s helpful to keep an eye on heating oil prices so you can buy when the price is low. To learn more about domestic oil prices and keep up-to-date with the latest trends, please read our heating oil price guide.

Is oil central heating being phased out?

The UK government is banning the installation of oil-fired central heating systems and gas boilers in rural homes by 2026. The ban itself impacts houses that are not connected to the gas grid, rural homes are the first to see this ban, with other UK homes likely to follow restrictions in 10 years time.

This is part of the government’s effort to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy throughout the 2020s and achieve carbon-neutral status by 2050.

This doesn’t mean that, come 2026, you’ll need to have ditched your home’s oil heating system, but it’s always worth considering how you can make your home more carbon-friendly. For tips on how to make your home more environmentally friendly, have a read of our guide.

Maintaining your heating oil system

At Rix, we’re here to offer you competitive domestic oil prices for your home heating system. You can generate a quick quote online or give us a call and we’ll help you find the most competitive price.

To maintain your house’s oil heating system, just give us a call to book an oil boiler or tank health check.  

You can also contact us with any more questions you have about how oil-fired central heating works. And, for more heating oil resources, check out our blog which is full of useful guides.