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22nd Oct 2015

A guide to winter heating oil

Did you know that, on average, two thirds of a property’s annual heating oil consumption occurs between October and March? When you rely on off-grid fuel to warm your home, being prepared in advance of the cold snaps is essential.

Here’s our guide to getting prepared for the upcoming winter.

Preparing your tank

Make the most of the milder autumn weather to do some maintenance to your heating oil storage tank, including the area around it. Clear any debris, weeds or overgrown hedges from the immediate area, making sure the path is clear. Consider laying gravel or bark chips on any muddy areas to make access easier for you and your delivery drivers for when the weather is wetter.

Check your tank carefully for damage (such as rust) and make sure pipes and fittings are in good condition. If your tank is showing its age then it may be time to replace it; speak to a qualified engineer to see if it needs repairs or should be replaced. It is best to do this before ordering a new batch of fuel, when the oil level is lower. However, be careful of overfilling the tank whilst there is still the chance of warmer days – if your tank is filled past 90 per cent there will be little room for fuel to expand in the heat of those last few sunny spells.

If you live in a particularly cold part of the UK, then consider installing an insulation blanket, to prevent separation in the fuel.

As autumn marches on, now is the time to make sure the security on your tank is up to the job. Protect your tank and its valuable contents by tightening up your measures to dissuade thieves before it gets cold. Replace any weak locks and if you have security lights, test them to ensure they’re working. CCTV can also be a relatively cheap investment, as can ‘Beware of the Dog’ and neighbourhood watch signs, all acting as efficient deterrents.

Make sure your gauge is working correctly and monitor it regularly, to stay on top of any sudden drops in fuel.

Service your boiler

Give your boiler some TLC before the cold months hit, to minimise the chance of unexpected breakdowns in the middle of winter. An annual boiler check and service will to ensure your system runs at peak performance, making sure you get the most of out of your heating oil order and cutting the risk of potential carbon monoxide issues.

Making sure your heating system and your AGA, if you have one, are ready for the winter in advance will mean you should have a stress-free winter season. For those in rural areas, especially older residents, being left without heat can be devastating, so advance planning can successfully reduce the risk of ill health caused by cold after a system failure.

Take advantage of lower prices

The cost of oil may rise in the winter, in line with the rise in demand, so getting your heating oil order in early is smart. Top up before the cold months start to take advantage of the lower prices. It’s wise to not allow your tank get lower than a quarter full, especially in winter.

Severe weather can impact delivery, if roads are closed due to icy conditions, for example. This can be crucial in rural areas, where roads are infamously treacherous. So, ordering early before the cold weather hits, and topping up ahead of your fuel tank getting too low, will prevent your household suffering when the weather turns frosty.

Make the most of autumn to ensure you and your fuel tank are ready for whatever cold and icy weather the British weather can throw at you. Keep yourself topped up and ensure you have enough heating oil to see you through for a stress-free winter season.

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