How often does a domestic oil tank need filled up? (and what factors will affect this?)

October 2, 2020
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No one plans on running out of heating oil. But you won’t believe the number of panicked calls we get every day from someone who has unexpectedly run out of oil. 

We want to help you avoid that heart stopping moment when you realise your tank is running dry. Not only because it’s the last thing you need with everything else going on in your life. But because letting your oil tank run dry can be bad for your heating system and stove appliances. But in order to avoid running out of oil, it’s important to understand how often you will need to refill your tank. 

In this article we’ll try to help you understand how often you will need to refill your oil tank and what factors can impact on this frequency.

What factors will determine how often an oil tank needs filled?

If you’ve never owned a house with an oil tank then you probably have no idea how often you are going to need to fill up your oil tank. 

Every month? 

Every three months? 

Once a year?

The reality is that it will be different for every household, so it’s really difficult to say. 

But it is estimated that the “average” household goes through approximately 2000

litres of heating oil per year in the UK. Again, that is highly changeable. And it will depend on a number of factors ranging from the size of your tank to the efficiency of your oil boiler, and everything in between. But knowing this, alongside some considerations below should help you figure out how often you are likely to need to fill your oil tank, and help you plan accordingly.

Ultimately, the best way to get an accurate picture of your usage is to track it for a year. This will help you plan a budget and deliveries for the following year. But you should also consider the below factors, and how they will affect your usage:

  1. The size of your oil tank…
  2. The size & behaviour of your household…
  3. The time of year (and the weather)…
  4. The efficiency of your boiler and your house

1. The size of your oil tank…

The size of your oil tank determines how much oil you can receive at each delivery, and therefore how often your tank will need refilled. 

Most oil suppliers have a minimum delivery of 500 litres. But it’s common for domestic tanks to range from 1000 to 2500 litres. 

We’d recommend checking the size of your tank (if you don’t already know). This will help you figure out if you are likely to need multiple deliveries a year (and how much oil you can get delivered each time)

2. The size & behaviour of your household…

Are you the kind of person who will throw on an extra jumper before the heating?

The reason that it’s so difficult to give an exact frequency of oil refills is because every household is different. Two houses could have the same size of tank, but the size of the house, the number of occupants and the behaviour of those occupants could vary dramatically and therefore affect the oil usage. 

A couple, living in a small house, is likely to use less than a family of five in a larger home. While some people might prefer a hotter base temperature to others.

Things to think about in relation to oil usages:

  • What size is the house?
  • How many people live in the house?
  • How many showers/baths etc do your household take?
  • Do you always have the heating on?
  • What temperature do you set the heating to?

Keep an eye on your behaviour throughout the year, and how this affects usage. Remember this is likely to change throughout the year.

Long shower cartoon

3. The time of year (and the weather)…

You’ve probably already guessed it! You’ll use more oil in the colder months – especially in Scotland. Many families find that they go through the same amount of oil in the Winter months (December – February) as they do the rest of the year. 

Again, this will be very dependent on the other factors mentioned. But it’s worth noting that the oil level will likely drop over these months, and you should keep a closer eye on it to ensure you don’t run out. This is especially relevant if you have a smaller tank.

4. The efficiency of your boiler & house…

Much the same as gas, how much oil you use will be directly linked to the efficiency of the home that you live in. 

Oil is an efficient fuel, and you get a good return on each unit of energy. But if you are using an old, inefficient boiler, then you may go through more oil than necessary. The same can be said for the overall condition of the house. A well insulated house, with double glazing and energy saving features will go through less oil.

It’s worth getting your boiler serviced, and ensuring the rest of your house is as efficient as possible. This will help retain the heat, and reduce the overall usage of oil, therefore reducing the frequency of tank refills. 

How do you know when it’s time to fill up an oil tank?

You know you want to avoid running out of oil. But it’s also a good idea to avoid levels running too low. This is especially true if you have an older tank, as there will likely be sediment and impurities settled at the bottom. If your oil level drops too low, this sediment could run through the heating system and cause problems with your boiler. 

So, while it’s important to know how often you need to fill your tank, it’s also good to know what level indicates that it’s time to organise a delivery. 

The exact level will depend on the size of your oil tank. But, we would usually recommend that you get your tank refilled when it has reached a quarter full. That way there is little chance that you will run out of heating oil, and you will avoid the impurities running through your heating system. 

How to make sure you don’t run out of fuel…

There are a number of manual ways that allow you to check your oil levels at a glance, including a dipstick, sight gauge and floating gauge. But even those with the best intentions can forget to check and get caught short. 

If you want a foolproof way of staying on top of oil levels, then we recommend a domestic oil tank monitoring system. At Carnegie Fuels we recommend the Kingspan Watchman alarms. We offer three options, which all allow you to monitor your tank for low fuel levels or theft, with prices ranging from £90inc VAT and upwards. 

Find out more about our Watchman Monitoring systems

Is it possible to get refill reminders?

At Carnegie Fuels, we have people working away in the background to make sure you don’t run out of fuel. 

You can sign up for our top-up service, and we will track your typical oil consumption so that you don’t need to worry about running out. You’ll still need to keep an eye on levels, and let us know if you are using more than usual. But this will reduce the worry about running out, and help avoid extra charges for rush deliveries. 

Sign up for our top-up service

In summary: How often does an oil tank need filled?

How often an oil tank needs re-filled will depend on a number of individual factors. But based on the average use, plus some personal behaviours, you can figure out approximately how long your tank will last you, and how often it needs re-filled.

The best way to get an accurate picture of how much oil you use is to track it for a year. It might vary slightly year on year, but this should help you plan a budget and deliveries for the following year.

To make sure you don’t get caught short with your fuel supply you can sign up for our top-up service. And remember, if you ever do run out we can offer next day deliveries, or if at all possible same day delivery for 100% loyal customers, to help get you back up and running as soon as possible. 

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