Do I Have Enough Heating Oil for Winter?

Many Variables Affect Your Fuel Consumption

heating oil wisconsin Throughout the heating season, heating oil consumers generally need anywhere from 700 to 900 gallons during a normal winter.

Since many homeowners have a 275-gallon aboveground heating oil tank on their property, let’s use that as an example to estimate how long a full tank of heating oil would last.

First, you need to know that this type of tank typically holds only about 230 gallons of fuel when full. Why isn’t it 275 gallons? Space needs to be left in the tank to allow for expansion and prevent any spillage upon delivery. Those 230 gallons in a full tank should still give you enough heating fuel to last from 4-6 weeks if you own a 2,000 square foot home.

Of course, these are just rough estimates. Many variables affect the amount of fuel you consume. This includes the outdoor temperature, the size of your home, the quality of insulation in your home, the efficiency of your heating oil system and how well it’s been maintained, and the thermostat setting you choose.

Here’s one way your actual usage can vary. In an average size home, (about 2,400 square feet), if the temperature during a 24-hour period averaged 20 degrees, you probably would burn about seven gallons. On the other hand, if the average temperature was 40 degrees the next day, you would probably use a shade under 4 gallons during that time.

Watch Your Tank Levels

If you call to order fuel, make sure to check your heating oil tank regularly—especially in the middle of a cold snap. Don’t wait until your fuel level gets too low. It’s best to call when your oil tank gauge reads about ¼ full.

Many Wisconsin full-service heating oil companies offer automatic delivery, a free service that takes away the hassle of having to check your tank and order your fuel. It also lowers the risk of running out of heating oil. Some companies may also be able to install a device to your tank that wirelessly monitors your fuel usage so they will always know the exact amount of fuel in your tank.

Keep It Clear for Your Delivery Driver

After a snow or ice storm, please clear a path to your oil fill pipe or aboveground tank so your driver can reach it quickly and safely. You should also shovel/plow your driveway so it is free of snow and ice. Safety codes prohibit delivery drivers from trying to navigate slippery driveways. Heating oil delivery trucks also need a space wide enough for an ambulance to get through.

Pay Attention to Your Heating System

If you have a heating oil furnace, change or clean the air filter a few times during the heating season. A dirty filter compromises efficiency and can even result in a shutdown if it gets clogged with dust and other particles.

If you have an old steam boiler, check the water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause for boiler shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be flushed when the water in the gauge looks rusty. Talk with your heating oil technician if you’re not familiar with this procedure.

If you have a modern hot water boiler, its automatic filling system, controlled by the pressure-reducing valve, should maintain the proper water level at 12 to 15 psi of pressure. If there isn’t a pressure-reducing valve, manually feed the boiler by opening the water feed valve until the boiler pressure reaches 12 psi.

Finally, for safety’s sake, keep the area around your heating oil boiler or heating oil furnace as clean and clutter-free as possible. Never store anything flammable, like newspapers or cans of paint, anywhere near your system.

Count on Your Wisconsin Heating Oil Company

When it’s cold, your heating oil company will have an ample supply of fuel on hand to make sure you stay warm. And when it’s time to upgrade your heating system, your heating oil company can help secure rebates that could save you up to $1,200 on the new equipment.

Read about heating oil equipment rebates in Wisconsin.