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How Much Heating Oil Should My Home Use in Winter?

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It’s important to know how much heating oil your home uses in winter.  Not only does it help you make sure you always have an adequate amount of fuel in the tank to keep your home warm and comfortable. But knowing your average fuel use can help you find ways to cut back, thereby extending the life of your fuel supply and help you reduce your heating costs.

The amount of heating oil a household uses depends on several factors:

The size and design of your home  

The size of your home, the number of people who live in it and their lifestyle preferences will influence the amount of oil you use each day. Typically, homes with a larger footprint will need to use more fuel than smaller homes. When there are more people in a home, the daily fuel use is also typically higher compared to a household with just one or two people. A typical 2,500 square foot home in the northeast will use around 880 gallons of heating oil per year. Houses with good insulation will use less fuel oil, while poorly insulated houses with drafty windows can expect to use more heating oil. Additionally, if you have a secondary heat source, like a wood burning stove, you may use less oil.

The temperature outside

Typically, the warmer it is outside, the less oil your heating system will need to use to bring your home up to a comfortable temperature. When it’s 50 degrees or so outside, you might use just a couple of gallons of oil in a day. Should the temperature drop to 20 degrees, you might use seven or eight gallons of oil daily. Your furnace or heating system will need to work harder to keep the temperature in your home comfortable. In Connecticut, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration where the average temperature in December is around 30° F, a typical 2,500 square foot home will use approximately 4-6 gallons of heating fuel oil per day.  It is worth noting though, that a tank of oil might last for a different duration at the start of the cold season compared to at the height of the season.

The desired temperature in the house

You’ll use more oil per square foot, for example, if you want to keep your house at 70 degrees compared to someone who wants to keep the temperature in their house at 65 degrees. The higher the temperature setting, the longer your furnace stays on, hence 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 efficiency of the heating system

Is your furnace or boiler burning oil as efficiently as possible? Furnaces that haven’t been properly maintained or are aging will consume far more oil than a clean and state-of-the-art model. Experts estimate that up to 75% of no heat calls in the winter are related to a lack of proper maintenance. The more energy-efficient your heating system is, the less oil you’ll go, even on colder days. 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% to your heating oil bill.

Using heating oil for both heat and hot water

Hot water heaters generally run on heating oil, propane, natural gas, or electricity. If yours runs on heating oil, then you’ll want to make sure you always have enough oil in the tank during the summer as well as the winter. And the more people in the house taking hot showers, the more heating oil you can expect to use to heat the water. Fortunately, hot water heaters do not use nearly as much heating oil as your furnace or boiler uses to heat the entire house. Typically, you can expect to use an average of 0.5 to 1.0 gallons of heating oil per day to keep the water hot. If you have a large house, or an instant hot water recirculating pump that constantly moves the hot water throughout the house, expect your consumption to be on the higher end of the range.

A word of advice about heating oil usage…

It’s a good idea to monitor your oil usage so you can determine ways to save on heating costs. But it’s more important to sign up for automatic delivery so that you do not miscalculate how long the fuel will last. And if you are already signed up for automatic delivery, don’t turn the truck away because you think your tank is full. Rather than relying on potentially aging gauges and homeowner estimates, heating oil providers, like Levco, use a proprietary system to calculate and schedule the right time for your delivery, keeping you warm and comfortable even on the coldest days of the winter.

Stay up to date with Levco by liking our page on Facebook and check back on our blog for more important HVAC tips. If you have any questions, feel free to give our team a call at (203) 533-8249 or contact us today!

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Phone: (203) 533-8249


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