Information is available from the Trading Standards Institute to help consumers. Please note the county council is not responsible for this information.
In the guide
This guidance is for England, Scotland and Wales
Many homes are connected to the mains gas supply. However, there are homes, particularly in rural locations, that are not on the mains network. In these areas oil, butane and propane gas, delivered by tanker, are commonly used for home heating and cooking, often combined with solid fuel and renewable heating. Storage tanks can be sited over or underground and some tanks can send a 'smart' message to the supplier when they are running low.
There are laws that control the sale and delivery of oil, butane and propane gas. Oil and gas must be accurately measured and you should receive a ticket that states how much has been delivered. Unfair trading practices are prohibited and it is an offence for a trader to give a false or misleading statement of quantity.
When you buy bottled gas from a trader, you are making a legally binding contract that is covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The law gives you rights and remedies against the trader if the bottled gas is not of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or as described.
How is oil measured?
Central heating oil, derv (diesel) and paraffin in bulk are measured by the litre in one of two ways:
Oil is pumped from a compartment on the delivery tanker through a meter that has been testing for accuracy and sealed. From there, the oil flows into your tank. Each meter has a ticket printer attached.
Every compartment on a tanker has a number and its own numbered dipstick marked with graduations and quantities.
Measurement is made by 'dipping' the compartment before the delivery and noting how much oil is present, then 'dipping' after the delivery to calculate how much has been received.
Dipstick deliveries are not as commonplace as they used to be.
Oil deliveries: what to check
Ask the trader if there are any minimum delivery requirements that apply to an order or contracted delivery of oil.
The tank itself, as well as any relevant documentation, may be marked with its capacity. Check with the supplier if you are unsure. If you are still not certain, the capacity of a standard rectangular tank should be easy to calculate. Multiply the tank's height by its width and then by its depth. Measured in metres, this will give an approximation of its cubic capacity in litres. Note the level of fuel in the tank before and after delivery; a similar calculation can then be used to estimate the amount that has been delivered. Your tank may have a 'sight tube' to help with this. If not, you could produce your own dipstick for your tank and note the height increase, or even mark the stick with actual calculated quantity estimates.
If your tank is of irregular shape and its capacity is difficult to calculate or you'd like to double check, you could consider the following:
What you are looking for:
How is gas measured?
GAS IN BULK
Bulk propane is measured by the litre and, like heating oil, is delivered by road tanker if it is for domestic use. The meter used to measure the fuel as it goes from tanker to storage tank is checked and sealed to prevent unauthorised access. Each meter is fitted with a ticket printer. Some meters are fitted with electronic meter heads and the printer for this system may be located in the driver's cab.
Gas deliveries: what to check
Bottled gas is sold by reference to the net weight (in kilograms) of the contents, which should be clearly marked on the cylinder and should also state 'butane' or 'propane'.
The bottling plant where the cylinders are filled must use accurate equipment that has been checked and tested to ensure accuracy. Net weight = the weight full (gross weight) less the weight of the container when empty (tare weight). The empty (tare) weight is normally on the neck or rim of the cylinder or on a permanent label.
If a false or misleading statement of quantity has been given, report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service for referral to trading standards as action can be taken against the supplier under the Weights and Measures Act 1985 and/or the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
If you enter into a contract because a trader misled you or because the trader used an aggressive commercial practice, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 give you rights to redress: the right to unwind the contract, the right to a discount and the right to damages. The 'Misleading and aggressive practices: rights to redress' guide gives more information.
When you buy bottled gas from a trader, you are making a legally binding contract that is covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The law gives you rights and remedies against the trader if the bottled gas fails to meet your expectations.
Key rights - the gas should be:
The 'Sale and supply of goods: your consumer rights' guide gives more information.
Bottled gas: what to check
You should consider the hazards of storing oil and gas, as both are highly flammable. Your obligations differ depending upon whether you are storing as a trader or consumer. If in doubt, contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for further information.
Having made sure you received what you paid for, make sure you keep it and you use it. Fit security devices to your storage tank and access points to it wherever possible.
Points to remember
Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) (trade body for the heating oil industry)
Foxwood House, Dobbs Lane, Kesgrave, Ipswich, IP5 2QQ
Tel: 01473 626298
Email: email@example.com (or complete the contact form)
Last reviewed / updated: October 2020
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab.
For further information in England and Wales contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 2231133. In Scotland contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000. Both provide free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues.
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The county council is not responsible for this information.