How Much Heating Oil Will I Use This Winter?

Written on: September 28, 2022

Many Factors Affect Winter Fuel Usage

heating oil use new york While heating fuel prices seem to be on a slow downward trend, many homeowners remain concerned about how much heating oil they will use this winter—and how much it will cost them in the long run.

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 general guidelines that can help you estimate how much heating oil you can expect to use.

Here is an 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 came up empty. The best way to avoid these risks and hassles altogether? Ask your heating oil supplier about automatic heating oil delivery service, which frees you from the task of always checking the fuel level in your oil storage tank because you’re worried about running out.

How to Read Your Heating Oil Tank Gauge

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

  1. On top of the tank is a clear glass or plastic cube that is marked with numbers that resemble the gasoline 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 heating oil service provider to get it fixed.
  3. 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. Here’s what we mean. When full, a 275-gallon tank holds approximately 225 gallons; the rest of the space is left to allow for air or sediment 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 heating oil delivery ticket.

Why not take care of filling your oil tank now so you don’t have to be worry about it later—when everyone is asking for fill-ups? Contact your heating oil supplier today to request a delivery—or ask about the availability of automatic delivery for your heating oil.

Read more about heating oil storage tanks.