Oil vs. Gas Central Heating

Posted 22nd Apr 2009
Hello, hope you may be able to help - any advice welcome!

Just sold my house and have been looking at properties to buy. This is the big move, the family home that I can grow into, babies, marriage etc so its really important to me and will be for the next 5-10 years.

I have seen the ideal house, we really love it (nice quiet village location) but we found out last night it has Oil central Heating. I have never had any experience of this so am a bit worried. It sounds uneconomical and messy(!) to me! Can anyone advise of cost, maintenance, potential problems? The house is 3 bedroom, quite old, radiators throughout but does have a wood burner in the living room.

Thanks very much....
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my dad has old fired central heating, and a few of his neighbours have had leaking pipes, leading to long months of insurance claims, 12 foot deep holes dug in the garden and general misery. also you have to get the tank filled up twice a year depending on your useage.

But i dont know how common this problem is, but it is a consideration,

maybe you could get a survey done on the system before you move in?
Only disadvantage in oil is you have to stump up loads of money in one hit. Not messy at all as you have no contact with the tank. Rather a village and oil than a noisy town and gas imho.
Thank you for your responses - its a lovely house/area etc and this really is the only bad point. I am most worried about people stealing it (which I have heard happens) and the general cost of oil. I believe it is more expensive to run than gas?
You can chuck a rayburn in and run the C/H off that with a bit of work then just use the oil burner as and when needed.
Is a rayburn something similar to an aga? In which case, it would be lovely but I would have to save my pennies!
If it's oil you might find there is no gas in that area, same as village i live in, yes it means paying up front though once established as a used most companies give you 30 days to pay after the invoice is in and that can be up to a month after delivery as well.
At the moment think it is slightly dearer but probably your only option as propane gas is even less attractive and more expensive.
We have oil, it is not messy - the tank is in the garden has no spillage, the boiler for the central heating is clean and efficent too.
One down side to oil is the price fluctuations, so you need to try and work out when is best to buy, ie when crude oil prices low fill up and to stock up before the winter kicks in and demand goes up. Now is pretty good, we got 1,200 litres for £400 and that will do all the energy (aga, hot water, central heating etc.) for our pretty inefficient 4 bed house for the next 4 months or so. Use boilerjuice.com to get the best oil prices locally.
We have no problems whatsoever with our oil boiler and you should not let it put you off a house!
thanks for the info. I have seen boilerjuice and it looks pretty informative. Just a different way of working I guess, perhaps a bit more effort than my current 'inner-city' set up! I don't think there is gas in the area so don't really have much of an option if I want the house. Anyone had any problems with people stealing the oil? Maybe I am being paranoid?!
I have heard of people who have had their oil tanks drained. This is the main reason we only buy 1,200 litres at a time even though our tank has a 2,500 litre capacity. The advice I will give you is the same that the local police gave us, and not to buy the special oil tank locks which cost around £80 which you put on the screw opening of the tank as if thieves who come accross this will damage your tank by piercing holes into it or other damaging ways and you will not only be left with no oil but having to fork out for a new tank aswell.
Good advice, I am finding it difficult to gain a rough idea of annual costs for the oil (I understand it depends on our usage) so I can budget accordingly. Any suggestions?
You do have another option which would mean NEVER having to buy oil or gas again for heating or hot water and that is by installing a heat-pump in place of your boiler. Providing your property is well insulated a heat-pump costs a fraction of what it costs to run a conventional boiler, will produce all your heating and hot water plus you'll receive a grant for installing one and depending on your electricity supplier, you could also be able to get much cheaper electricity.
We have a badly insulated large house with 4 bedrooms, and to run the aga, hot water, central heating etc. I would say we fill up by 1,200 litres 3 times a year. At the current price that would be £1,200 but expect winter to be more expensive. There are 3 adults living in the house. And if you do not have an aga, expect the bills to be significantly lower, ours is on 24/7 365 days of the year and is the oil eater of the house.
We have had 3 people cancel on us for the loft insulation and cavity wall insulation, but when that is eventually done, we would expect the bills to go down.

If I was you I would ask the people selling the house how much they use, what size the tank is, if there are any groups who buy oil in bulk locally (boilerjuice give you discounts on bulk orders), and how much they spent last year on oil. I'm sure they won't mind giving you that information.
Thanks sicklysweet for all of your help - I am going to do exactly as you suggest and ask the current owner. Also Kingy58, I am going to look into the Heat Pump suggestion. Thanks again
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