Don't be caught cold this winter!

Published on 03/12/2018

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The winter of 2017/2018 was extremely challenging. Whether you had to navigate the ‘Beast from the East’ just to get into work safely, or you were involved in helping the country continue running by keeping  schools and hospitals open, roads clear of slush, or by checking in on an elderly neighbour, the whole country had to respond quickly to ever changing weather conditions.

The intensity of the snowfall was unprecedented, with some areas of the UK experiencing record snowfall levels and record low temperatures for March. The sudden and severe impact took a lot of people by surprise, particularly when it came to stocking up on the essentials such as heating oil and LPG. The end of February and beginning of March is typically a time when organisations are winding down their use of the heating in anticipation of the spring. This meant that many people were caught out with low stocks of heating fuel by the unforeseen weather and turned to their LPG or Fuels suppliers for urgent orders. Unfortunately, as the whole country was being affected by the inclement weather, it seemed like every single customer was trying to order more fuels and suppliers battled to meet demand. This led to lead times being extended, and the poor road conditions led to some rural customers having to wait several days longer for their order than they’d expect.


The challenge

While the ‘Beast from the East’ may have been a once in a generation occurrence of an exceptional pattern of weather, the ESPO Energy team are encouraging their customers to think ahead this year about their winter planning, especially when it comes to securing supplies of essential fuels that you will need to keep your staff, customers, and students warm as well as keep your premises open across the winter months.

While ESPO suppliers have invested multi millions of pounds in their supply chains in order to add extra capacity this winter in the event of another big freeze, the ESPO Energy Team are encouraging customers to stay one step ahead of the weather and ensure that their tanks are adequately topped up, supplier contact details are to hand, and you have a plan in place to ensure you don’t run out!


The solution

Whether your heating system runs on LPG or other types of Liquid Fuels, the general principles of managing your tanks over the winter period are similar;

Keep an eye on your gauge!
Sounds simple, but remember to keep a regular check on the contents of your tank to ensure you’ve got enough to last you for the Winter Season.

If your premises uses LPG tanks and your contents gauge is 40% or below, then you should place an order with your supplier before you run too low! Remember though, no tank can be filled above 85% to allow for natural expansion of the gas when under pressure.

For other fuels, simply keep an eye on your tank monitoring system (such as your Watchman or Apollo device) and check the levels. Each pip on the device represents 10% of capacity filled, so if you can see 4 pips or less, it’s time to fill up!

Know your details
Make sure you keep your key details on hand so if you need to place an order quickly, you have all the information ready. Some examples of key information you should keep to hand; your account number, site address, any access or delivery time requirements (in case your site is only open for deliveries at certain times of day, or access to the tank is down a grassy track which could prove a challenge for large trucks) and finally supplier contact details, which are available on the espo.org website or via the ESPO Energy team.

Remember lead times
At cold times of year, it is wise to remember that everyone else will likely be in the same rush to order fuels as you! Therefore, please remember supplier lead times may be affected as they try to satisfy everyone’s demands. For LPG customers, lead times are up to 7 days and for Liquid Fuels, the standard lead time is 48 hours. Suppliers state that these can be extended in the event of inclement weather or in times of high demand however, so it pays to be ahead of the game and get your order in before you need it.

Consider technology
If you simply want fuel to turn up when you need it, consider investing in telemetry solutions that monitor and manage your tanks automatically. Our LPG and Liquid Fuels suppliers offer telemetry technology based ‘top-up’ solutions that monitor when your tank is running low, and broadcast your tank levels to your supplier and you. Suppliers will then automatically arrange a delivery to you. Often, suppliers will be willing to fund some of the cost of the telemetry solution as it makes things easier for them too, as they can plan deliveries around their anticipated demand.

If you run out…
In the scenario that your tanks do run dry, don’t panic! Running out of LPG or oil will usually not damage your boiler as there are safety mechanisms to turn off your burner if there is no fuel to combust. You will need to place an order with your supplier as soon as possible, and there may be a further charge to pay for an emergency delivery too. Ensure that you take steps to retain the heat you have too, by closing curtains and blocking draughts etc.

In particular, running out of heating oil may lead to the sludge that collects at the bottom of your tank getting into your lines and potentially becoming lodged there. This requires an engineer to come out and clean the lines, which is an expense best avoided!

Find out more

For more information please contact our Energy team on energy@espo.org or 0116 294 4042.

Alternatively, visit the following framework pages: For winter/Christmas fuel ordering supplier opening times and details, click here.
 
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