How Much Heating Oil Will I Use During Winter?


Most Americans who use oil as their home heating method
live in the North East, specifically in New England and the Central Atlantic regions.


Whether you’re a veteran of icy winters, or a newcomer to a colder climate, you’ll want to know how to accurately estimate the amount of heating oil you’ll use throughout winter.


Although there’s too many variables involved in winter heating to be one hundred percent accurate to the decimal, you can certainly make sure you’re always prepared for your winter heating needs by using a little math and a little foresight.


If you just moved to a new home with oil heating


You won’t have energy bills from previous years to help estimate your winter usage. You may even be a complete stranger to oil heating.


Start with a rough estimate. Your winter fuel usage will be determined by the size and condition of your oil tank. Look at the plate on the burner to find out how many gallons it will typically use per hour.


For reference, an average oil burner uses 0.8-1.7 gallons per hour.


If you have already filled your tank at least once since moving in, divide the gallons it took to fill it completely with the number of days it took to require a refill. This is a good way to roughly estimate your daily usage.


Combine this knowledge with what you know about the size of your home, how cold you expect the weather to be, and your personal preferences for temperature inside the home, and you will be on your way to knowing how much heating oil you’ll need this winter.


You can also share information about your heating needs, your oil tank, and the size of your home with a reputable dealer; they can give you a more sophisticated estimate based on experience and data.


Using previous winters to plan


If you have been using oil heating for a while, you can check heating bills from previous winters to find your average cost per month.


There will usually be trends in seasonal weather that are similar from year to year, so you can plan accordingly. It’s also useful to look ahead to see if forecasters predict any unusual storms or cold snaps.


As you know, winter weather isn’t necessarily confined to December, January, and February, so allow for extra heating oil usage both sides of these months.


You should also consider the many factors that go into heating oil usage, such as the condition of your boiler, weather events, personal preference for indoor temperature, and the size of your home.


Doing the math on heating oil usage


There are many factors that affect heating oil usage, but an average example can be useful to help you do your own math.


Let’s say that an average home uses a 240 gallon capacity oil tank and that the home is about 2000 square feet. We can estimate how long it will take the household to use ¼ of their tank (60 gallons) depending on the temperature outside:


  • When the temperature outside is 15°F, it will take 6 days for the family to use ¼ of their tank.

  • When the temperature is 20°F, it will take them seven days.

  • When the temperature is 25°F, it takes eight days.

  • When the temperature rises to 30°F, it takes nine days.

  • In the spring, when the temperature is 50°F, it takes 20 days for the family to use 60 gallons of fuel.


As you can see, the difference in usage according to temperature is significant.


How to use less heating oil during winter


There are several ways you can reduce your reliance on heating and therefore save money:


  • Insulate your home, and address any cracks, gaps, and drafts.

  • Use candles, heavy fabrics, and winter bedclothes to make your home cozier in cold seasons.

  • Consider using a programmable thermostat and avoid keeping your thermostat set to one temperature.


Don’t overlook your basement. Basements are one of the biggest culprits for letting cold air into your home, so consider spending a day insulating your basement.


Don’t obsess about hot water. Since your furnace is already heating oil to warm up your home, you essentially get the hot water anyway, meaning that hot water doesn’t cost extra in the winter, assuming you’re not taking extra-long showers!


Do you want to estimate how much heating oil you’ll use this winter, or order it ahead of time? Contact BoilerJuice today to receive a personalized quote.