How Much Heating Oil Will You Use This Winter?
Many factors will determine how much heating oil you need this winter. Read this article to discover the best ways to calculate your heating oil needs, and the safest options available for ensuring consistent delivery of heating oil to your home throughout the winter.
Determining How Much Oil You Use
The two factors that will have the biggest impact on your heating oil use is the size of your home, and how long you leave your furnace running.
To start, the size of your home will have an impact on the number of gallons required to keep your house warm. The most common sizes of heating oil tanks are:
- 288 gallons
- 340 gallons
- 420 gallons
- 500 gallons
- 550 gallons
- 675 gallons
- 1,000 gallons
As a general rule of thumb, most homeowners use tanks 300 gallons or less for one and two-bedroom homes. Larger three and four-bedroom homes require tanks closer to 500 gallons.
On average, an oil-burning furnace will burn between 0.8 and 1.7 gallons per hour while in operation. So, if you have a one-bedroom home, requiring a 300-gallon tank, and you keep your furnace running for 10 hours, you’ll need to fill your rank after 17 days.
1.7 gallon per hour *10 hours a day = 17 gallons a day. 300-gallon tank / 17 gallons = 17.64 days
Factors That Alter Average Wintertime Heating Oil Usage
Of course, the equation above is only a ballpark figure. How much heating oil you use will also vary based on the factors below.
- The outside temperature. How warm you keep your home will have an impact on the amount of fuel you use. Warmer winter weather, like in the 50-degree range, might require only 2 gallons of fuel each day. However, when the temperature drops to 15 degrees, you might use as much as 8 gallons a day to keep warm.
- How long you leave your furnace running. The longer your furnace stays on, the more fuel it will use. Try turning down the thermostat at night and when you’re gone to cut heating oil usage. You can also install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the inside temperatures for additional cost savings.
- The size and design of your home. Smaller, single-story homes with good insulation, will require less heat that large, multi-story homes with old insulation. Additionally, home characteristics like if your ceiling is insulated, or if there are drafts in the shingles and eaves will play a role in the overall efficiency of your heating oil. To cut down on lost energy, consider adding more insulation to your home, cutting down on drafts by applying caulking and seals, and replacing old weather stripping around your doors and windows.
- The age and condition of your furnace. Is your furnace burning oil as efficiently as possible? Furnaces that haven’t been well-maintained, or are aging will consume far more oil than a clean and state-of-the-art model.
- The size of your oil-burner nozzle. Older furnaces might also have larger oil-burner nozzle sizes than newer models. For example, if your furnace is more than 20 years old, your nozzle probably uses two gallons an hour, whereas more efficient models only use about 0.65 gallons per hour.
It may also be time to consider replacing your furnace or any of its parts that are aging. Oil burners, furnaces, and nozzles that are approaching or are more than 20 years old may add 15-25% on your heating oil bill.
The Most Accurate Heating Oil Assessment
To get the best assessment of how much heating oil you will use throughout the year, gather your bills for as many months back as you can.
- Add together how much you spent on oil last year
- Divide the sum by 12 for a monthly average spend.
Compare your monthly spend to the average cost per gallon of heating oil (roughly $3.00) to see how many gallons you used.
You can also consult with a heating oil expert to get their take on your heating oil consumption and help determine the best way to keep your heating oil filled automatically.
Heating Oil Delivery
How long will oil remain ‘usable’?
Heating oil will generally last between 18 and 24 months inside a tank, as long as you take care of your tank and use high-quality oil. If you have a partially full tank left when you turn off the heat for the spring and summer months, your oil should still be in good condition once you turn the heat back on in the fall.
Tips for Oil Delivery
You may be surprised to learn that there are many factors that can impact delivery reliability and the price of your fuel.
September and April are great months to order oil. Both are downtimes for heating oil delivery and allows you to fill up your tank without competing with the demand that pours in closer to the winter season.
Check oil prices year-round
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average cost for heating oil in 2019 was just over $3.00 per gallon. However, each month marked subtle changes to the price a consumer will pay. For example, in February, the cost was $3.20, and in October, it was only $2.90. By paying attention to the ebbs and flow of oil prices, you can cost-effectively fill your tank.
Companies like Santa Energy also provide price protection plans to help homeowners avoid the costly volatility of the heating oil market.
Work with a company that automatically delivers your fuel
Keeping up with heating oil can be difficult. Remove the worry and hassle of monitoring your fuel levels by working with a heating oil company that does the heavy lifting for you.
Santa Energy offers tracking technology that calculates precisely when your home will need a heating oil refill and ensures delivery before you run out.