Oil Central Heating vs. Gas: Which One Is Cheaper?


Comparing the cost of running different heating systems is one of the most prominent energy price debates, especially in the midst of the cost of living crisis. When energy bills are rising across the board, it might seem like everyone pays the same, inflated price. However, the truth is that the price hikes impact some heating systems more than others.

Particularly, the oil vs gas debate has always been a topic of conversation. And, as a result of the crisis, the topic surfaces even more regularly than before. With the internet being full of opinions in favour of both sides, we decided to take a look for ourselves.

Find out which is cheaper, oil or gas central heating.

What are the differences between gas and oil central heating?

Gas and oil are both energy efficient fossil fuels used to heat homes in the UK. But, there are some distinct differences between the two, particularly in availability.

Natural gas is the main energy source for the vast majority of UK households. In England, Wales and Scotland, gas is supplied via the National Grid using long, secure gas lines. However, the National Grid doesn’t reach every UK home, especially those located in some of the more rural areas. So, a large amount of people rely on alternative heating methods, including heating oil.

Gas is available ‘on tap’ to those who live on the National Grid, but heating your home with oil requires some forward planning. Heating oil customers have to estimate and order the amount they need, while those relying on gas pay based on their usage. After a customer places an order, heating oil gets delivered to the individual property by trained tank drivers. The drivers then pump the oil from the vehicle into a storage tank.

Advantages of oil over gas

While gas is the more popular alternative, heating oil has some key advantages in comparison to gas central heating.

Off-grid availability – Heating oil can be delivered anywhere. We have a fleet of vehicles to ensure access to properties even via narrow roads and bridges.

Smaller explosion risk – While heating oil is a flammable substance, it is associated with a lower explosion risk than gas, making it a safer option.

Option to buy in bulk when prices are low – To further reduce the cost of energy bills, our heating oil customers can fill their oil tanks in the low season to take advantage of lower prices.

Is oil heating cheaper than gas in the UK?
The prices of both oil and gas fluctuate over time, so there is no simple answer to this question. On average, gas and oil are both amongst the cheapest ways to heat your home. Additionally, while we can compare the exact cost of each fuel type, the actual heating costs of your home depend on a range of factors.

Historically oil heating has been more expensive than gas for the average UK three-bedroom, semi-detached home. However, since some of the major events in recent years, including the Covid-19 pandemic, Russian war on Ukraine, and the cost of living crisis, the prices of gas and oil have fluctuated even more than usual.

The Energy Saving Trust indicates that in April 2023, reflecting the UK Government’s Energy Price Guarantee, the average price of heating oil is cheaper per kWh than gas.

Other factors impacting the cost of oil heating

The efficiency of your heating system can also impact your overall heating costs. Using an old, inefficient oil fired boiler could end up costing more than using a contemporary gas boiler, even though the fuel itself is cheaper.

To ensure that you don’t overpay on oil heating, consider the following steps.

The efficiency of your boiler – Older boilers are less efficient than newer ones, but you can also further improve your boiler efficiency with these easy steps.

Oil boiler servicing – Regular servicing is key to keeping your heating system working as efficiently as possible. Read our guide to professional oil boiler services to learn about the full range of benefits.

The condition of your tank – Cracks on your heating oil tank could lead to costly leaks and spillages. Find out how to maintain your tank to save money on repairs later down the line.

Regardless of which heating system you have, there are some things you can do to lower your heating costs. Take a look at our guide to reducing your heating bill.

If you rely on oil for your heating, find out more about our products and services.

Oil vs Gas Heat FAQs

Does gas have any advantages over heating oil?
Every heating system has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. The key advantage of gas over oil is that it can be delivered instantly into your home on-demand. So, there is no need for a storage container and the associated maintenance. However, the major disadvantage of gas is that it isn’t available to homes everywhere.

Can you change oil heating to gas?
Converting from oil to gas is possible depending on the location of your home but it is also costly. In order to complete an oil to gas conversion, your off-grid home needs to be connected to the National Grid. The other costs you would need to take into account are a new boiler and the removal of your old system.

How do oil and gas prices compare to electric heating?
Electric heating has remained as one of the most expensive methods of home heating before and during the cost of living crisis. Both oil and gas heating prices are cited as cheaper than electric heating on average.

Why are gas prices so high when oil is down?
Gas prices have remained high while oil prices have decreased because the demand for gas is still higher than oil. Russia is the largest supplier of gas in Europe. The current limitations caused by the Russian war on Ukraine means that more countries are competing for a smaller pool of gas, which in turn is driving the prices up.

While Russia is also a major supplier of oil, there are fewer constraints on supply due to more countries producing domestic kerosene heating oil than gas.