Help Yourself to Lower Heating Costs
If you are among around 68% of Northern Ireland residents who rely on oil to heat your home, chances are you’ve already learned quite a bit about the rise in cost and are not looking forward to next winter. What you should remember is that now in summer, when heating oil is the last thing on your mind, is the best time to take stock of your previous usage and make plans to regulate that usage. Now is the time save yourself some money without suffering chilblains or worse when the weather turns cold again.
A service contract that ensures your boiler gets inspected by a certified OFTEC-registered technician on at least a yearly basis, is the best way to go if that option is available, but it’s not necessary; you can call on a local company for an inspection at any time. Obviously it’s better to do so in warmer months when less heating oil is used, boilers are not working overtime and neither are inspectors and repairers. Don’t wait until the dead of winter, or for your boiler to start malfunctioning, to schedule maintenance and/or repair.
A well-maintained boiler can actually cut your fuel costs by as much as 50%. Over time the residue of spent fuel oil builds up and reduces efficiency, meaning you’ll have to use more fuel to produce the same amount of heat, which is not good for the environment – or for your bank account. Proper maintenance also greatly reduces the risk of potentially disastrous leaks; these are rare but not unknown, and you really don’t want to experience one.
Another factor to consider is when to buy heating oil, and how much to purchase. Be aware that keeping the oil tank full or nearly full in summer months reduces the accumulation of condensed water, and prices are usually lower than in high-demand winter months. Also, try to purchase as much as possible in a single delivery, as you can save a significant amount per litre on larger quantities, plus saving on delivery charges.
There is no specific guide to how much heating oil you’ll require in a given period, but common sense actions such as lowering the thermostat a few degrees and making sure the boiler is working at top efficiency will reduce that amount and your heating costs. Keep a careful record of the amount you’re using at all times; if consumption seems to be increasing you may have a leak, so keep a close watch on seasonal and annual consumption.
A good resource for information and consumer advice is available at www.consumercouncil.org.uk. If your locality has organised an Oil Buying Club, as many have done, you can usually get a better price on smaller quantities from the distributor. There is little you can do individually about the bottom line price of heating oil, but you do have options, as well as responsibilities when it comes to how much you spend on it.