Tuffa bunded heating oil tanks

Read An Expert Guide to Heating Oil Storage for information, advice and industry insights covering everything from the basic question “what is heating oil?” to the money-saving “how can I get the best price for heating oil?”. What makes us experts? We’ve been manufacturing oil tanks for over 30 years and in that time we’ve gathered a huge amount of knowledge which we are now sharing with you in this one-stop expert guide.


Quick links:


What is heating oil?

What are heating oil storage tanks used for?

What are the advantages of using heating oil?

What are the disadvantages of using heating oil?

What types of heating oil storage tanks are available?

What size heating oil storage tank do I need?

When should I buy heating oil?

How do I get the best price for heating oil?

Which heating oil storage regulations apply to me?

How do I check and maintain my heating oil storage tank?

What do I look for in a new house with a heating oil storage tank?

How do I prevent fuel theft?


What is heating oil?

Heating oil is a liquid fuel used in boilers and furnaces for heating and/or cooking in domestic and commercial settings. Kerosene is a by-product of crude oil is the most common heating oil in the UK. However, with strict emission targets looming, fossil fuels are being phased out and it looks increasingly likely that biofuels like HVO will play a part in decarbonising UK heating.

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils (HVO)

While the vast majority of UK homes currently run on kerosene, carbon emission targets and government legislations such as the “Clean Growth Strategy” (2017) will phase out high carbon fossil fuels – such as kerosene -for heating. HVO is currently commercially available in the UK as a biodiesel but is being trialled as a drop-in replacement to kerosene. The biofuel benefits from being a fossil-free, sustainably produced, and a renewable paraffin derived from waste such as used cooking oil and vegetable oil. While the government is backing low carbon solutions such as air source heat pumps, the oil industry is levying for HVO to be recognised and incentivised as a low cost and simple solution to reduce carbon emissions. Find out more about HVO in our article HVO Heating Oil – a Drop-in Alternative to Kerosene? Or, for more about the benefits of HVO and its use as a low-carbon alternative to diesel then view our Expert Guide to HVO Fuel Tanks.


What are heating oil storage tanks used for?

Heating oil is generally used as an alternative to gas in properties that are not connected to the national gas network. Oil tankers deliver the oil to heating oil storage tanks for transportation to boilers and furnaces where the fuel is ignited. Uses vary between domestic and commercial applications.

non-domestic heating oil tank
Large steel oil tank at an NHS site

Domestic heating oil

Usually heating oil is used to fuel a boiler for hot water and central heating. Around 1.5 million properties in the UK use oil for home heating. Although it’s less common, heating oil can also be used for cooking in oil-fired Agas.

Commercial heating oil

In a commercial setting, heating oil is used to fuel machinery for construction, agriculture and horticulture. It can also be used to fuel furnaces, generate electricity, produce steam for industrial machinery, and heat commercial buildings including holiday homes.


What are the advantages of using heating oil?

While for most homeowners using heating oil is more of a necessity than a choice, there are still definite advantages:

  • Heating oil actually burns hotter than gas and warms a house quicker than gas or electric-powered heaters.
  • HVO is a low-carbon alternative to gas heating. Unlike heat pumps, HVO can be used effectively in homes with poor EPC ratings.
  • Heating oil is the cheapest alternative to gas at a cost of around 5.5 pence per kWh. Comparatively gas is 5.1 pence per kWh and electricity is 20.7 pence per kWh. (NottEnergy 2019)
  • Modern heating oil systems are more efficient than gas or electric meaning that less fuel is wasted and more fuel is converted into heat. Heating oil furnaces exceed 90% efficiency whereas gas heating furnaces is around 75% and electric 30%.
  • Heating oil gives you much more control of your fuel supply. You can choose when you want to fill your heating oil storage tank, who fills it, who supplies it, and you can shop around for the best deals.
  • Most heating oil suppliers give you the option of paying monthly making your heating payments the same as if you were paying for gas.