Turbulent fuel market: order heating oil now or wait?

Oil prices are at record levels.

Turbulent fuel market: order heating oil now or wait?

Oil prices are at record levels. And in the autumn there will also be an oil embargo. What should we do now: quickly fill the heating oil tank or hope for a price relaxation?

Filling up the tank of the oil heating system in spring or summer: This advice no longer applies. The war in Ukraine has thrown all expected price developments upside down - and now there is also an oil embargo for Russia. The EU is planning an import stop for Russian oil for the next heating season of all times.

Uncertainty as to how things will continue is causing prices to rise again. And she asks homeowners with oil heating when they should order from the fuel dealer. But even experts cannot give clear advice, because depending on how the situation develops, the price swing can swing in both directions.

"Personally, I would make sure that there is enough in the tank, but I wouldn't fill it up," says Louis-F. Steel from the board of the Federation of Energy Consumers. However, if you have a high need for security and maybe have some money on the high edge, you might fill up the oil tank now to be on the safe side.

"You can only give advice if you make a price prediction - and that's not possible at the moment," says Martin Brandis from the energy advice team at the Federal Consumer Association. However, he warns against letting the tank run empty. "Consumers should always bear in mind that there are also delivery deadlines if they suddenly have to heat up."

So what if you have to fill up despite the high prices? You can get a feeling for the price differences between the providers via the many heating oil comparison portals on the Internet. Here you can find out about the current market prices. In an analysis of eight heating oil portals by the consumer portal "Finanztip" in 2020, Heizoel24.de and Esyoil.com usually showed the cheapest offers.

In principle, the sales price on the day of the order applies, even if the delivery is weeks later. "It would be dubious to want to raise the price shortly before filling up - consumers shouldn't get involved with that," says Stahl from the Association of Energy Consumers. And he advises to commission regional providers in any case - because of the short distances. Otherwise there may be costs for the journey.

Both experts advise that it is important to insist on a confirmation by e-mail or post after ordering. It must contain the price including all costs, which must be paid after delivery.

Also important to know: If you only fill up a small amount of heating oil, you may have to pay a surcharge. "In that case, it can be worthwhile to jointly order with neighbors if they also need oil," says Brandis. Attention, however: Only order together with people you know and trust. Because if one doesn't pay, the others are liable.

Apart from that, there are the following to consider when buying heating oil:

Agree on a fixed price: Homeowners should agree on this when ordering and have the supplier confirm this in writing. Then this price also applies if the heating oil becomes more expensive by the time of delivery. Unfortunately also vice versa.

Think about a collective order with the neighbors: this can save money, since the logistics costs of the supplier will decrease. Disadvantage: If you order for everyone, you may be liable with your money if the others don't pay.

Counter set to zero: Make sure that the counter is set to zero when the pumps are switched on at delivery. In this way, you can check the amount you have filled up.

Fill up without foam: while the counter is running, only fuel oil needs to be visible in the sight glass. If foam appears or if the heating oil disappears completely from the sight glass, the measurement must be interrupted automatically. If the meter continues to run, air is measured instead of liquid during this time.

(This article was first published on Friday, May 06, 2022.)


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