.In the dead of winter or the heat of summer, it’s second nature for us to walk over to the thermostat and adjust the temperature to make our homes comfortable.
Because this routine is so habitual, you probably don’t think much about the system’s technical processes. Like the one that works to ensure humidity levels in your home are optimal, or the one that filters and cleans indoor air to keep you healthy.
This comprehensive system of heating, cooling, and ventilation is also known as HVAC.
If you’re a new homeowner or haven’t worked with an HVAC company, let’s discuss what HVAC is, how it works in your home, and where to go if your HVAC system needs repairs.
The acronym HVAC stands for:
Think of HVAC as multiple systems that:
HVAC systems consist of different layers and methods of output. Meaning, HVAC isn’t only about central air conditioning or central heating, though these are two of the most common systems.
Let’s explore each part of the system.
You have several system options for heating your home, including furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, and ductless systems. For each system, there are different methods of heat delivery:
Without the ventilation component of HVAC, homeowners might notice a fluctuation in inside temperatures, and risk too much (or too little) humidity in the home, and unhealthy air quality. The most common types of ventilation systems are:
Homeowners also have a few choices when it comes to cooling their homes. The most common is using central air conditioning in conjunction with central heating, but that’s not the only solution. There are also split or ductless, window and portable units.
All AC options operate in the same way, using energy to move heat from homes and buildings to the outside.
Most air conditioning systems use:
Refrigerant moves between a liquid and gas state, and as it changes, refrigerant can absorb and release the heat outside of your home.
Because there are so many working parts and methods of operation in HVAC systems, it’s wise to give them an annual tune-up by the experts.
Preventive care of your HVAC systems can extend the life equipment and reduce costly and untimely repairs. When your HVAC systems are operating well, you can save on energy bills and keep your home’s air quality safe.
A question that we get often is “How long will my heating oil last?” And on cold winter mornings, these are important questions to keep your family and your home warm.
You want to get the most out of your heating oil and you want to live as efficiently as possible and conserve energy.
Typically, the calculation for how long heating oil lasts is hinged on the size of your home and how long you leave your furnace running. Using a general rule of thumb, most homeowners use tanks 300 gallons or less for one and two-bedroom homes.
However, having a good understanding of how long your heating oil lasts is important and dependent on a number of factors other than the size of your home. External temperature, the condition and maintenance of your furnace, how extendable the life of your heating oil is are all factors to consider.
Several factors impact how long your heating oil will last. Let’s cover each of those.
The amount of heating oil consumed during a blizzard or extremely cold weather is different from that of a warm winter season. Extremely cold outside temperatures increase the rate of heating oil consumption — the more the temperature drops, the higher the rate of heating oil consumption. The wind is also something to consider, as it accelerates the rate of heat loss from a house.
What’s the condition of your furnace and how long have you been using it? Has it been well maintained or has it suffered some damages without adequate salvaging? Older, aging furnaces and ill-maintained ones have a tendency to consume more oil than newer models that have been designed for efficiency. You may want to consider upgrading your furnace and having regularly scheduled maintenance.
What your oil is being used for specifically is essential for determining how long your heating oil will last. Are you using it for heat, or for both heat and hot water? If you are using it for both, you’ll definitely consume more than the heat-only use case. Also, you may want to check how long your furnace stays on, especially if you do not have a programmable thermostat that can automatically adjust your temperature inside.
A measuring technique by Inspectapedia suggests that you can make a very rough guess of your usage by noting how many minutes per hour your oil burner is running. Denoting that oil burners use a spray nozzle that delivers oil at a flow rate of around 0.8 to 1.7 gallons per hour is important. You’ll also need to know your oil tank size and how much oil you have in it (if it’s not a full tank of oil).
Santa Energy’s tracking technology saves you a load of stress by calculating precisely when your home will need a heating oil refill and gets your heating oil filled automatically before you run out.
Using the calculation above, 1.7 gallons per hour x 10 hours a day (assuming the number of hours you spend at home is 10 hours) = 17 gallons a day. That means, 100 gallons of oil will last you about six days (100-gallon tank / 17 gallons per day = 5.8 days).
Or, if you want to calculate using a full day (24-hours), 1.7 gallons per hour x 24 hours a day = 40.8 gallons a day. If your oil tank size is 100 gallons, then your tank will last two-and-a-half days (100-gallon tank / 40.8 gallons = 2.45 days).
Following our previous calculations, 10 gallons of heating oil at a consumption rate of 1.7 gallons per hour should last 5.8 hours. (10-gallon tank / 1.7 gallons per hour = 5.8 hours).
Considering that most residential heating oil consumers are in the Northeast and about 20% of households in the Northeast Census region use heating oil as their main space heating fuel, it is helpful to make estimates based on outside temperature on how long heating oil lasts in this region.
Here’s a chart that’ll help you make estimates based on outside temperature:
|Average Outside Temperature (°F)||Approximate Gallons Used in 24 Hours|
The question after examining all of these is, how do you then conserve your heating oil?
Make sure you have the right and well-maintained equipment, from your tank to your furnace. Have your furnace tuned up to keep it working efficiently. Your tank should also be checked regularly for degradation, as a corroded or leaky oil tank will degrade your oil faster and external impurities can penetrate your oil.
If your house is well insulated, heating oil conservation is easier. Good insulation means the heat is retained in the house, rather than being dispersed through the roof, windows, and walls. Invest in an energy audit and insulate your home properly, seal gaps around the edges of windows and floorboards, reduce drafts.
According to Energy Saving Trust, you could stop losing around 33% of your heat through uninsulated walls which will make your home feel warmer and more comfortable and save costs.
Use a Smart Thermostat to regulate the heat, reduce heat wastage and adjust usage when you are not home.
Dressing in layers and decorating your house for warmth are effective ways of generating heat and conserving energy.
As the demand for a product increases, the price of that product begins to rise. Oil prices tend to increase with demand, so having your tank filled during a low-demand season is good for you, especially when supply problems can arise during the high-demand winter season.
In addition to our heating oil delivery services, Santa Energy provides a variety of other heating services including furnace maintenance, repair, and new heating system installation.
As such, one of the most common debates is whether Northeasterns should convert their heating oil systems to natural gas.
The first question to ask is will it save you money in the long run?
The federal government’s 30% tax credit for upgrading to a high-efficiency furnace ended nearly a decade ago, and homeowners that didn’t jump on the credit may be left asking themselves if it’s still worth the effort.
Let’s cover the differences in each heating source, from the BTU output, conversion costs and environmental impact to discover which fuel suits your home best.
British thermal unit (BTU) is the most common way to measure a unit of heat in the United States. Specifically, BTUs measure the amount of energy needed to raise one pound of water 1°F at sea level. This measurement is a gauge for energy use, energy effectiveness, and heating system sizing.
Simply put, the higher the BTU rating the more powerful, and higher heat output it has.
When comparing natural gas and heating oil, consider the following breakdown:
Mathematically, heating oil contains more heat per BTUs than natural gas (and than most other fuels available on the market). Therefore, heating oil outputs more heat, making it the more efficient option of the two.
Heating oil is at its most efficient and environmentally-friendly state when used as bioheat.
Bioheat is a blend of biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur heating oil. The advancement in fuel properties from heating oil is great news for Northeasterns, as the fuel can be used in your oil tank without any modifications to your tank or furnace.
From an environmental standpoint, bioheat is notable because unlike natural gas, it’s a renewable fuel, and touts lower carbon emissions.
During the Paris Climate Change Convention in 2016, more than 200 nations agreed to limit carbon gasses that pollute the earth by promoting the use of renewable energy sources and low carbon options. Bioheat falls under the same category as wind and solar energy, which are all acknowledged as sources of renewable energy.
Natural gas, on the other hand, falls into the same bracket as petroleum and coal, which are nonrenewable sources of energy, also known as fossil fuels.
Methane losses from natural gas systems pose a significant problem for global warming as well. Methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times more dangerous than poisonous carbon dioxide. And, according to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, methane ranks amongst the worst of the greenhouse gases.
When considering the environmental impact between natural gas and biofuel, the heating oil option wins by a landslide.
Homeowners considering the conversion from heating oil to natural gas need to estimate the cost to make the switch. The grand total will vary based on many factors, including:
However, according to CBS Boston, the switch can cost anywhere from $4,500 to $7,000. New England Cable News increases the prices even more, stating conversions can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000.
Though there may be long-term savings with a natural gas conversion, the upfront cost, coupled with the environmental impact cause many homeowners pause.
According to the Consumer Energy Council of America, this fuel conversion could be an “expensive gamble”.
Experts zero in on some of the dangers of natural gas as a caution to homeowners considering the switch:
Though every homeowner will need to weigh the pros and cons of natural gas and heating oil for themselves, it’s important to inform yourself on all aspects of the conversion.
Want to learn more about the difference between heating oil and natural gas? Check out the following resources: