How much heating oil does my heating system use in the winter?



When meteorologists mention “cold snap” or “polar vortex”, many homeowners are concerned about running out of heating oil and keeping their home warm. There are several factors that contribute to how much oil your boiler or furnace uses and how long a tank of oil will last.

The amount of heating oil used is mostly determined by outside temperatures. As temperatures fluctuate, so does the amount of oil that is needed to heat your home appropriately. The average above ground home heating oil tank is 275 gallons. Depending on how a heating system was installed, some homes may have smaller tanks or could have two 275-gallon tanks.

The below chart will help homeowners estimate the amount of heating oil used in a 24-hour period related to the outside temperature here in Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania. This estimate usage represents a typical 2000 square foot home that burns 750 to 900 gallons per year.

chart detailing how many gallons of heating oil are used based on outside temperatures

Other Factors Affecting Heating Oil Use

There are several other factors that can contribute to using more or less heating oil based on the approximate figures in the chart above.

Size of home

The amount of heating oil you use will be dependent on the size of your home. If you live in a home larger than 2000 square feet, your usage will be higher.

Insulation of home

Having a well-insulated home helps to conserve oil. If you feel drafts around windows and doors, you are losing warm air. Seal any gaps you find around doors, windows, and outlets.

Efficiency of your heating system

It is important to make sure your heating system is running at peak efficiency. A yearly clean and tune-up ensures your system is in good condition and running as efficiently as possible. Annual maintenance also helps to save on fuel costs and extends the life of your system. If you have multiple repairs throughout the winter season, we recommend looking at what system replacement options are available. It is better to prepare for an upgrade than dealing with an emergency replacement during the middle of the winter.

Use oil for water heating

Oil water heaters do not use nearly as much oil as your furnace or boiler. The average daily usage is between 0.5 and 1.0 gallon of heating oil. Add this additional usage to the approximate gallons used by your heating system.

Heating Oil Delivery Options

Every home’s oil usage is different. There are a few ways to ensure your family is warm and comfortable and that you do not run out of heating oil. Running out of heating oil can be a major inconvenience and lead to additional costs. Not only will your home be cold, but your system will also need to have a prime-and-start service performed. This service makes sure the oil line from the fuel pump to the heating system is clear and there are no sediment clogs in the fuel filter.

We offer two options to receive heating oil deliveries – automatic or will-call.

Automatic Customers

Automatic customers do not need to monitor their tank’s gauge and find time to request their next delivery. We utilize special software to track current temperatures and past oil usage to estimate when the next delivery should be made. There are no additional costs to enroll in our automatic delivery program. Automatic delivery customers should contact us if their heating oil needs change. Things that can affect a change in oil use may be more people living in your home, you are no longer using a supplemental heating source or start using another source of heat.

Will-Call Customers

tank gauge on heating oil tank

Will-call customers would be responsible for monitoring their fuel usage and requesting their next delivery through our easy-to-use online portal or calling into our office. We request will-call customers order their deliveries when their tank’s gauge is at ¼. This allows us adequate time to schedule your delivery well before your tank would be empty.

For example, there is approximately 70 gallons of oil remaining in a 275-gallon tank when the gauge reads ¼. Using the chart above, if the average daily temperature is 30˚F, the approximate gallons used per day would be 5.3 gallons.

Our goal is to make a delivery within three business days of an order – well before the tank in this example would run empty.

Looking for a reliable heating oil provider?

The Rhoads Energy Family of Companies has been serving the heating oil needs of homeowners throughout Lancaster, Chester, Berks, Lebanon, and Western Montgomery Counties for many years. In addition to reliable delivery, we also offer price-protection plans. Our Bundle Up plan helps homeowners control their winter heating costs.

If you are a homeowner in Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery, Main Line, or Chester County, click here.

If you are served by one of our other fuel delivery divisions, click on the company name below to request more information or our rates.

EG Smith, serving Berks County

Reilly & Sons, Serving the Exton Area