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How Much Heating Oil Will I Use This Winter?

It’s only natural to want to estimate how much heating fuel you will use, especially if you’re struggling with a heavy load of other household expenses. While there are many variables that affect fuel usage—including outdoor temperatures, the quality of insulation in your home, the efficiency of your furnace or boiler and your family’s own heating preferences, there are a few rules of thumb that can help you get a handle on this.

Consider this example. If outdoor temperatures average about 32° over a 24-hour period, a typical 2,500 square foot house will burn about six or seven gallons of heating oil per day.

So if temperatures are right around the freezing mark and you have a quarter of a tank of oil left in your 275-gallon tank, you’ll have enough oil to last about a week. This is why you should call for your heating oil delivery when your tank gets no lower than one-quarter full, especially during cold weather.

Remember: it’s always better to be conservative and order your heating oil early rather than getting stuck in a no-heat emergency because your tank went dry. The best way to avoid these risks and hassles altogether? Ask your heating oil supplier about automatic delivery service, which frees you from the task of always checking the fuel level in your oil storage tank.

Reading your heating oil tank gauge: a refresher course

Even if you’re a long-time oilheat consumer, it never hurts to review the basics of reading the heating oil tank gauge, especially in preparation for winter. Here are four quick points.

  1. On top of the tank is a clear glass or plastic cube that is marked with numbers that resemble the gas gauge of your car: F, ¾, ½, ¼. A red marker or float commonly indicates the amount of fuel left in your tank – if the float is at the bottom of the gauge or not visible at all, your tank is empty or nearly empty.
  2. To make sure the gauge is working, carefully remove the outer case and gently press the float down. If it bobs back up to the original position, the gauge is working. If the gauge is not working, contact your oilheat service provider to get it checked out.
  3. In terms of estimating how many gallons you have in your tank based on the reading you see on the gauge, remember this. The most common size of heating oil tank is 275 gallons, but the size of the tank doesn’t indicate how much fuel it actually holds.
  4. When full, a 275-gallon tank holds approximately 225 gallons; the rest of the space is left to allow for air or debris at the bottom of your tank. So if your gauge reads “½” in a 275-gallon tank, you have about 110 gallons left, not 135 or so as you might first expect. Other tank sizes include 340 and 420 gallons (the size is often indicated on the side of your tank; older models may not include that information). But you will typically see that information on your oil delivery ticket.

Why not take care of filling your oil tank now so you don’t have to be worry about it later in the season? Contact your heating oil supplier today to request a delivery.

If you would like to read more about today’s modern oil storage tanks, please go here.