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What is Heating Oil?

Heating oil information


At Rix Petroleum, we understand how daunting and confusing it can be when first entering the world of home heating oil. That's why we've put together this page to give you the low-down on how everything works. Don't worry if you can't find the information you're looking for, simply contact your local depot and one of our friendly experts will be more than happy to help.

What is heating oil? And what oil is used for home heating?


Most domestic oil systems in the UK run on kerosene. It doesn't matter whether your system uses an oil-fired boiler or cooker to heat the home, standard kerosene will work just fine.


Heating oil vs kerosene


This is a common misunderstanding surrounding heating oil, as they are the same thing! Heating oil, also known as "kerosene", "kero", "28-second burning oil" and "domestic oil" is a low viscosity oil.

We supply quality kerosene in three forms: standard, premium (K+ Premium Heating Oil), and cooker (Aga Cooker Fuel – only suitable for Aga or range style oil-fired cookers). K+ Premium heating oil is a cleaner fuel made up of active ingredients, known as "additives", which help to keep your system free from carbon residue, potentially increasing the lifespan of your system. Aga cooker fuel works in the same way but is specially developed for oil-fired cookers.

Heating oil facts


In the UK, approximately four million homes are not connected to the national gas grid, known as "off-grid", relying on alternative energy to heat the properties instead. Heating oil is the most common alternative energy available on the market today.

A home running on heating oil may look very similar to one on the mains. However, there are a few key differences: the boiler (or Aga Cooker) will be oil-fired, there'll be an outside heating oil storage tank, and the fuel will be delivered to the property by road.


How does heating oil work?


In order to heat your home, the heating oil storage tank you are using must contain a sufficient amount of heating oil to work, if it runs empty - no heating! And that's where we come in, delivering fuel directly to your tank via one of our fuel delivery tankers. Unlike when you're connected to the mains, you can't simply tap into what seems like an endless supply of fuel as and when you want to heat your home. You have to think ahead, ensuring your tank is topped up regularly, so you have access to heating when you want it. Think of filling your heating oil storage tank like filling your car's fuel tank. The difference is, we fill your tank at your home.


How heating oil works if you've just moved in


Heating oil is drawn from a tank unique to that property instead of pulling from a shared network like homes on the national gas grid. If you've just moved into a new house running on heating oil, you'll notice that you will have an oil storage tank, usually located somewhere outside the property. If you are unfamiliar with heating oil and oil storage tanks and require some assistance, please just contact us, so we can answer any questions you may have.

How does a typical heating oil system work?


Time to get a little technical! Most domestic heating systems work by pumping fuel from a heating oil storage tank through to an oil boiler. The fuel enters the boiler's combustion chamber as a finely atomized spray which, when ignited by an electrode, generates a highly efficient flame. Hot exhaust gases then pass through a heat exchanger transferring energy to the water circulating through it. The heated water is then distributed throughout the home via radiators, which subsequently warm the rooms.

How to order heating oil


Generally, most customers will top up around three to four times a year depending on factors such as property size, how cold it has been, and how many occupants live in the property. Customers can order their fuel from Rix Petroleum safely and securely online or over the phone by calling one of our local depots.


To buy online, simply select the heating oil type you want to buy (standard, premium or cooker) and the required quantity followed by your preferred delivery method (standard, express, or emergency). From there, all you have to do is follow the simple steps, filling in your address details and payment information. Paying for your fuel on our website is secured through SagePay. Once complete, you'll receive an email to confirm the order with an estimated time of delivery.


Is heating oil the same as diesel?


You may be asking "is home heating oil the same as diesel?" In terms of home heating oil, the answer is no. Heating oils that are used in the home have a heavier composition compared to diesel fuel.


Bigger boilers usually used in large buildings or commercial systems often run on diesel or gas oil, not kerosene. It's always worth checking with your local supplier if you are unsure what fuel to use.

How long can heating oil be stored?


Generally speaking, home heating oil will last 18 – 24 months if stored correctly in a compatible tank. The tank needs to be clean, and your oil quality should be high, for the oil to be stored as long as possible.


Does heating oil freeze?


Home heating oil doesn't freeze, however, to avoid any problems with your home heating system we recommend your tank undergoes regular health checks.

How much heating oil do I need to order?


The minimum order quantity is 500 litres and can be purchased in increments of 100, i.e. 600ltrs, 700ltrs, 800ltrs etc. Typically, the more heating oil you order, the lower the price per litre. For those who would like a purchase plan similar to gas mains customers, we have the Rix Monthly Payment Plan, available to homeowners that wish to spread the cost across the year.


Before you order your heating oil


You'll first need to check your tank levels so you can order an appropriate amount of fuel, you can do this by either checking the contents gauge on the tank or by using a dipstick. It's essential that the quantity of fuel ordered fits in your tank, so make sure to check the tank's maximum capacity. Don't worry if you order too much; any un-dispensed fuel will be returned to us and credited to your account.


Please be aware; we don't automatically refund the difference as we don't hold customer card payment details. All refunds are processed on direct request from the customer.


Delivering the heating oil to you


One of our friendly drivers will arrive at your property in one of our iconic blue, red and white Rix tankers. You don't have to be at home for us to fill your tank, so long as the tank is accessible and unlocked. Once the delivery has finished, we will leave you with a ticket receipt confirming the actual quantity delivered to the tank.


When placing your order, make sure to let us know if you have any special instructions so we can deliver your home heating oil as efficiently as possible. For example, you might keep your tank locked, or it could perhaps be in a place where it could be confused with a neighbour's.


We will do our best to get your fuel to you on or before the delivery date stated when you made the purchase, however during busy periods, there may be delays.


We will always communicate with you should there be any issues.