As we head in to spring your heating bill will begin to go down. This winter was harder than some, and colder than others. With that, the cost to heat your home was more than likely higher, as your fuel usage was greater.

Did you know that before next years’ winter weather hits, you can actually calculate how much heating oil you will use? Anyone that uses a fuel oil system for their home faces the challenge of ensuring there is always enough fuel in the tank no matter what the weather has in store for us. Along with the uncertainty of odd storms, unexpected freezes, comes the fact that prices fluctuate with supply and demand. It’s common to become frustrated when trying to determine how much you’ll use, and how calculating the cost of heating oil is figured.Calculating Heating Oil

The more you learn about fuel oil, the utilities that burn it, and how to estimate usage, the more accurately you will be able to estimate your heating oil needs.

We have three tips for you:

  1. How do you calculate your heating oil costs per month?
    • Look for the manufacturer’s plate on the burner: This number give capacity specifications in gallons per hour. The information could also be on the burner nozzle.
    • Gather the heating oil bills that you have: Look at the quantities used. You can easily find your average if you have a full years’ worth of bills. Total your cost and divide by twelve. That’s your average cost. You can do the same to factor the number of gallons of heating oil used.
    • An average oil-burning furnace uses approximately 0.8-1.7 gal per hour: Find out where yours stands, and if it is performing up to specifications. Depending on the age and design, some models use more or less that the average.
  1. Analyze the weather
    • Fluctuations in weather: We are all aware of how dramatically the weather can change, and the effect it has on our fuel oil consumption, and the cost of heating. The more you know, the better prepared you can be.
    • The Farmer’s Almanac:Yes, it’s true, they have a history of being a very good source of weather predictions. They have statistics that can be useful to estimate your heating-oil consumption. Using it, or other reputable sources that predict unusual patterns like polar vortexes, El Nino/La Nina, years and other local phenomena can help you know what the weather may do.
  1. Supply and Demand

As you are already aware, it simply isn’t easy to predict long-term demand because of the many factors that affect usage and price. Among the variables are:

  • Thermostat settings make a big difference in the rate at which your furnace burns fuel.
  • Strong wind can cause your home to sustain heat loss faster than when there is no wind.
  • A building with good insulation can still be drafty, which affects how much heat is needed and therefore how much heating oil is used.
  • How many heating-degree days you have affects operations — the number of days with an outdoor temperature lower than about 60 degrees.
  • Insulation prevents warm air from escaping through your walls, roof, doorways and other areas, so naturally a lack of it makes your furnace work harder to heat the space.
  • Oil-burner nozzle size might vary from two gallons an hour for an older furnace and in newer, more efficient models, about 0.65 gallons per hour.
  • Frequency of cleaning, adjustment and other maintenance affect oil usage, supply cost, and furnace operation.

Calculating the cost of heating oil can help you budget and plan for next years’ winter weather, whatever that might be.