Why is my heating oil going down so quickly?

(58 Posts)

We have oil central heating in our newly completed 4 bed barn conversion.
We have the heating on around 3-4 hours a day whilst it has been cold. The water is on for 45 mins a day whilst the heating is on in the mornings.
I have our woodburner on all day to keep costs down and avoid using the heating.
Yet despite this we have used nearly 1000 litres of oil in the last two months and I can't understand how. Our neighbours use around 1000 a year! What's going on....I must be doing something wrong.
Help piglet john!!

I should say our neighbours have their heating on all the time and the thermostat set to 21 but our plumber said only use the heating when you need it.

MoreBeta Sat 12-Jan-13 21:51:45

Has someone stolen it?

This happens a lot in rural areas.

MousyMouse Sat 12-Jan-13 21:56:45

yep. where is the tank? easily accessible?
maybe call a heating engineer to check there is nothing faulty, sounds like a lot of oil (and money!)

No it is padlocked. Every time I go out and check the gauge it's gone down a few inches. £700 oil gone in just over two months on a brand new super insulated house..how?!

Tank is outside beside the garage. Plus my dad lives next door and we have dogs outside all the time so nobody gets near

GentleOtter Sat 12-Jan-13 21:59:51

Could there a be leak in the pipe which feeds the oil to the house?

<Waves to MoreBeta>

Are there certain settings that would keep the consumption rate down? Should I have radiators on half etc, turn the boiler down?

I'm not sure wouldnt a leak affect the pressure and stop the system working?

MaryPoppinsBag Sat 12-Jan-13 22:02:22

It might be leaking.
I would try to find out whether it is pretty soon as you will have to claim on insurance or pay to have the contamination cleaned up.

SizzleSazz Sat 12-Jan-13 22:06:16

We use 1000 litres in 3-4 months and 1000 litres for the rest of the year. We have relatively crap insulation, and only on a few hours a day, so it could be feasible.
I suspect your neighbours might be lying. Ours use 1000 litres twice a year (we fill tanks up at same time) and they have a woodburner and solar panels.

Eek. Ive left a message with our plumber to phone me next week.
I almost hope it is leaking and I am not using £300 a month in oil to be cold!
How much do most people use?

IamtheZombie Sat 12-Jan-13 22:07:08

No, a leak wouldn't affect the pressure but it could account for a lot of oil going missing. Bitter voice of experience.

Thanks sizzle. I suppose it could be right then.
Their house is smaller but ours is super insulated with kingspan in walls/ceilings/floors.
Also The thermostat has been installed in our small porch so upstairs and the hall is always freezing and yet the heating clicks off when the porch warms up after 20 mins or so!

FloweryDrawers Sat 12-Jan-13 22:11:25

Yup - when that happened to us there was a leak in the pipe under our yard. We had to get someone to dig up the tarmac to repair it. We use 800 litres in a normal-temperature 3-month winter, so your usage does seem a bit high. Your house is bigger than ours but you say it's super-insulated, so that shouldn't account for all of it.

mejon Sat 12-Jan-13 22:15:34

We have ours on for longer in the evening - probably 5-6 hours and the water is on all day (combi boiler). 10 year old bungalow with pretty good insulation and we use around 700-800 litres a year. Leak sounds plausible - though I'd have thought you'd probably be able to smell it. Do you know exactly where the pipe is laid to check?

SizzleSazz Sat 12-Jan-13 22:16:10

Our thermostat is in a cold hallway, so has to be set at 15 otherwise the house boils!
We spend £1200 pa on oil, so £100 a month is ok in my book (albeit the majority spent in 3-4 months.

I guess you could 'test' if any is escaping/stolen when it warms up a bit and you can switch off and monitor?

Gah our pipe goes under our newly tarmaced drive!!
How big is your house melon? Ours is 4 double bedrooms, 4 bath, hall and open plan high ceiling lounge/kitchen. But as I say I use the woodburner most days to keep oil usage down as we are skint from building the house!
Should I turn the radiators down, does that use less oil or does it not matter how high they are, if the boiler is on it's on right? Or does it use more oil if the radiators are set on high? Total novice here sorry

Flowery how did you know there was a leak if it was under your Tarmac?

The boiler is outside the back door and it is quite smelly when it's on but maybe thats just typical of oil boilers is it?

OhIWishThereWasABook Sat 12-Jan-13 22:34:39

I just want to say that 1000 litres lasts us 6 weeks in our 400 yr old uninsulated house. Our boiler is 40 years old though...... First priority come summer. Our boiler is outside and pipe comes in to house under path which doesn't help. This probably didn't matter when it was 5p a litre!

OhIWishThereWasABook Sat 12-Jan-13 22:35:14

Every six weeks in winter only!! Not that that is any better

Thanks book. I guess I could understand it if we had the heating on all the time but we just don't.
It's a fairly big house to heat so I know it won't be cheap but surely it only uses oil when I've got the damn thing on!

Virgil Sat 12-Jan-13 22:44:04

Sounds about right to me at this time of the year. Our house is a bit bigger than yours I think but we generally use just under two tanks a year and our tanks take 2000 litres. It always seems to go down very quickly at this time of the year even with the woodburner on.

OhIWishThereWasABook Sat 12-Jan-13 22:48:29

Mines only ever on in morning and evening too. I miss gas sad

OhIWishThereWasABook Sat 12-Jan-13 22:49:24

Did you not move in during summer. Mine doesn't go down in the summer so I know there is no leak.

zzzzz Sat 12-Jan-13 22:51:24

We use at least that much, and wood burner and jumpers.....but I basically live in a sieve.

FloweryDrawers Sat 12-Jan-13 22:54:22

We knew there was a leak because our oil usage suddenly SHOT up, not long after we'd had a new garage built around the area where we knew the pipes ran. (Obviously you have no previous usage to go by!) Because we knew where the building work had been, we knew the right sort of place to have them start digging. Fortunately they found it very quickly.

We did move in summer yes, well may but 1 we live in north scotlad so we don't have summer and 2 we had a newborn so we still had it on a bit.
The first 1000 litres lasted til november having heating on once a dayaybe twice if it was a chilly night.
Guess I'm just not used to oil

Does anyone know about the radiator thing tho- should I turn them down?

Oh dear flowery I hope the builders paid for that!

mejon Sat 12-Jan-13 23:00:08

The house is 4 bedroomed Purple and not huge. We have a woodburner too that is used during the day. You say that the thermostat switches the radiators off once the porch is warm enough so the rest of the house is cold. For a new-build (or new conversion) with super-dooper insulation I wouldn't have thought you'd have got through that much oil in such a short space of time. Lordy if we used that much oil and it wasn't leaking somewhere I don't know what we'd do.

MostlyLovingLurchers Sat 12-Jan-13 23:00:42

Our last house was a newish 3 bed barn conversion, and used about 1000 litres every 4 months, but the guzzler was our oil fired range rather than the heating. So, i think from what you say about your useage you should at least rule out whether or not you have a leak - you will use more oil if your radiators are turned up high btw! If your pipe was above ground it would be fairly easy to spot whether you have a leak, otherwise the cheapest way is simply to turn everything off, say for a week, mark the tank, and see if the levels still fall. Is it possible the drive installation buggered your pipe?

PigletJohn Sat 12-Jan-13 23:06:14

November was unusually cold. It has recently warmed up a bit. I use about 14 times as much energy (gas) per day in frosty weather as in summer when I am just heating the water, you usage pattern may be similar.

Perhaps you have a large property, and if it is open plan a lot of heat will rush up to the ceiling.

Do you just have radiators, or UFH? Do you have a conservatory? Do you know the power of your boiler?

Go round and look at your radiators. Calculate, if you added the length of them all together, how long a radiator would it make? Count a double rad as one and a half times its length. How tall are they?

I expect you have thermostatic radiator valves. What number are they on? Are all rooms heated? Do you close the internal doors?

From the inside, can you see the exterior walls, or were they all insulated and boarded? Can you see the underside of the roof, or is there a loft and flat ceilings?

What do you know about the insulation that was installed?

Have you hot glass doors or glass walls?

Billwoody Sat 12-Jan-13 23:06:20

That does sound like a lot. We also have a 4 bedroomed newish barn conversion and I would estimate that we use 1500l a year. When you say you went out to look at the gauge on the tank - is it a watchman electronic gauge? We have one that shows in the house. Could there be something wrong with the gauge ?

Hey thanks all for replying
We have about 12 metres of radiators standard height and 3 towel rails 1 metre high.
The rads are all on high and no we don't keep doors shut. We use all the rooms and the bedrooms are always freezing.
The lounge and kitchen are open plan and have a high ceiling about ten foot but then its blanked off with a false ceiling and insulation.
The Walls ceiling and floors have 150mm kingspan in
Dont know about boiler spec sorry. Can find out tho.
Er what else....

All Walls boarded no stone showing although I did want that as a feature we decided too cold here for that!
It's 4 double beds, 4 bath large living area and double height hall/landing which is quite small really

Oh the gauge is onthe tank not a watchman. It goes down by an inch or so every few days.

specialsubject Sun 13-Jan-13 11:13:00

doesn't sound right at all - in basic terms, our 1300 litre tank goes down about an inch a week with the same heating time as you, and with a 30 year old boiler (on the list for the summer!). Bought 1000 litres since June and not out yet.

oil only generates slightly less heat per unit than gas, but it depends on boiler efficiency. However yours is presumably new? And yes, it only uses oil when switched on! I suppose someone could have a sneaky pipe into your tank and be coming along in dead of night, but it sounds more like a leak.

as the place is newly finished, is there someone you can get back to check? The boiler should be under guarantee too.

PigletJohn Sun 13-Jan-13 11:41:46

150mm Kingspan is very good. All the surfaces should feel warm.

If you are open plan and leave the internal doors open a lot of heat will be wasted and some rooms will be cold as the heat runs out of their doorways. Internal doors should be closed when the heating is used.

Are all the radiators equally warm?

Turn the TRVs down to half.

Turn the room stat to 20 (if it is currently higher)

Have you got a conservatory, glass walls or glass doors?

I have 4.8m wide glass doors in the lounge, windows are nordan double glazed.
No conservatory or fancy glass walls but there are six velux windows with tunnels into the lounge area.
Loft upstairs partially floored and all insulated with glass wool and kingspan.

All rads seem hot yes and stat set to 20 but it's in a small porch which heats up quickly. Maybe should leave the door open into the kitchen when it's on.
The lounge and kitchen is always boiling when heating is on but the other wing with bedrooms in is always cold.

Thanks special I have left a voicemail for our long suffering plumber. He had to come out and fix the system in nov when we ran out of oil. I didn't realise the guage had to be jiggled about to read it and it still looked like we had oil.
I read last night about turning the boiler temp down from 85/90 to 65/70
Water stat is set at 65

PigletJohn Sun 13-Jan-13 12:39:02

A condensing gas boiler is most efficient at about 60C but I don't know if that applies to oil boilers. The boiler temp must always be higher than the cylinder stat or it will never stop trying to heat it.

If the thermostat is in the porch (WTF?) and the porch heats up too fast, turn down the radiator in there so it heats up slower than the rest of the house. Do this at the lockshield valve, not the TRV if it has one (it shouldn't).

the thermostat would be more sensible in your main living room.

If the lounge and kitchen are too hot, turn down the rads. If they have TRVs start at the half position and adjust half a number at a time over the course of at least a day.

PigletJohn Sun 13-Jan-13 12:40:04


the glass doors will benefit from full-length curtains. Their heat loss will be vastly greater than an insulated wall.

Yes thermostat is in a silly place I agree. I may ask plumber to move it if that's feasible.
Ok will do as you suggest I have fabric ready to make curtains so will get on that.
Erm...what's a TRV? the turny number bit on the radiator? grin

And lockshield valve? That's something different to the TRV?
Where do you live piglet john, would you like to be my new best friend? wink

GrendelsMum Sun 13-Jan-13 14:09:42

I dont think it's that surprising, tbh, based on how much we get through. A 4 bed barn conversion sounds like you've got a huge space to be heating, even if its insulated, and I think you said you've got very big, full height windows.

We've got a 4 bed, 400 year old house, fully insulated but with big windows, and the place just eats heating oil.

We use 200l a month and only use the heating 4 hours a day.

Badly built new build in the west of Ireland sad no leaks, it's all grass between the tank abd house and the time we did have a very slow leak it was obvious as the grass died at the point of the leak.

PigletJohn Sun 13-Jan-13 14:43:41

thermostatic radiator valve
the thrmostatic knob is adjusted to a number corresponding to a comfortable temperature in thaty room. With the door closed, it will prevent heat being wasted by overheating that room.

lockshield valve
to set the flow to adjust radiators relative to each other. Adjusted with a small spanner on the spindle under the cover (shield) which is then screwed (locked) into place to prevent anyone fiddling with the adjustment. Amost all the adjustment is within one turn up from fully closed.

Thanks all. Hubby has been round adjusting all the rads today to half on and shutting doors!
200 litres a month I could deal with that would last us 5 months. But 500 a month? Arghhhh

kirstytate Sun 13-Jan-13 19:19:37

Another one here who says it doesn't sound too bad - but were in a 400 year old uninsulated house and the norm is to use around 100 litres a week when it gets really cold (heating on a few hours a day, relying on wood burners the rest of the time).

We significantly reduced our consumption by blocking up the gaps to the outside and replacing our open fire with another wood burner - but I would have thought that in a relatively modern barn conversion those things would be taken care of.

We also switch off radiators in little used rooms and rely on electric oil heaters in small rooms like the kids bedrooms as we find this more cost-effective. DH and I huddle in front of the fire after the kids have gone to bed!

thetigerwhocametoteax Mon 14-Jan-13 11:54:20

Hello there, think I remember you from the TTC whilst BF board. Congrats on your new baby and house. Glad we are not the only mad ones moving with an new baby - we had DS2 in August and moved in November to a 200yr old cottage that needs renovating. We are new to the oil heating, we filled up with 1500L when we moved in 2 months ago and I guess we've used a bit less than half so about 300L a month which is not too far off yours. We are a 5 bed poorly insulated (we are working on that!) stone house and have the woodburner on a lot. Been furiously sewing curtains and draught excluders and having plasterers over to insulate and replaster quite a few rooms. Hoping for a snugger winter next year!

Hello tiger. Congrats on ds2! Our dd was born in June and the house was finished in may. I was stamping around growling at the tradesmen whilst 8 months pregnant to get them to finish on time!
I think we would still be waiting for them if I hadn't!
How is your house coming along? And where did you move to? We are north of Inverness right in the country which is lovely but a bit cold hence the heating bills!

thetigerwhocametoteax Tue 15-Jan-13 12:44:29

Congrats on DD too! Getting the work done before baby arriving sounds far more sensible than us....Did you convert the barn from scratch? We sold our house in September and (madly) moved into a one bedroom flat above my work for 6 weeks then moved into our new house November - hard work! House is coming along slowly but we are only 2 months in, I am just impatient and its hard with 2 little people in the chaos. So far we have had a new staircase in and the place re-wired. We have a joyful week of stripping woodchip off this week then the plasterers come Monday to sort our lumpy walls and floorboarded (= drafty) ceilings out. Then will come the slow job of painting the place from top to bottom, getting some carpets and furniture in and getting it to feel like our home. I think it would be a very exciting project if it was just me and DH and we had plenty of time but finding it quite hard to motivate myself to start doing things after DS2 finally gone to bed - thats are only time to do jobs. We are in Yorkshire, out in the sticks too, minus 3 today so definitely a bit nippy but probably not as cold as far ooop north I guess! Had lovely morning of DS1 running about in the snow then coming in to toasty warm woodburner in lounge so just getting a taste of how lovely it will be here once we are sorted! Sorry that was a marathon - hope you are keeping warm and enjoying the little ones grin

Oh my goodness tiger you are very brave! You must be knackered doing all that plus looking after two kiddies.
Yes we converted my parents stable block and garage/store into our house.
It had been a farm previously so it was a stone built L shaped barn with earth floors.
It took nearly 11 months to complete but almost 2 years with planning etc.
We stayed next door with my parents which was trying to say the least
It's lovely now and seeing it when we drive in still gives me the 'wow is this really ours' feeling. But then i remember how much it cost and that feeling goes away lol

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Wed 16-Jan-13 20:00:59

Do you have a neighbour with a house the same as yours? If you do, asking them how much they use might help. I know there are lots of variables when comparing, but it may be able to give you some idea if there is a leak or not.

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Wed 16-Jan-13 20:02:22

Ah, I've just read you latest post and it answers whether there is a house likes yours in the area. Ignore me grin

Cheers moveit. Resigned to the fact that we are going to be cold or skint. Or both!grin

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