What are the Benefits of Heating Oil?

The great news about heating oil is that it’s a safe, efficient, durable heating source.

If you’re new to using oil to heat your home or have been using heating oil and are just wondering about the benefits, read on, ‘cause if you want benefits, we’ve got benefits.

Heating oil is safe

A lot of people wonder if heating oil is actually safe. And we don’t blame them. After all, heating systems work by warming air or water with a controlled fire—a controlled fire that is intentionally lit inside your home every day, several times a day.

Fortunately, home heating oil won’t burn in a liquid state, so it’s not like your oil tank is going to spontaneously combust—and if a leak should happen, it’s not an explosive hazard. In fact, even if you lit a match and put it in the middle of your oil tank, the oil wouldn’t light; the only thing that would happen is that the match would go out. For real.

Heating oil is now safer for the environment and public health

Additionally, with the advent of Ultra Low Sulfur (ULS) heating oil, heating your home with oil has become better for the environment and public health.

Say what now? Well, all heating oil contains a certain amount of sulfur. That sulfur content is measured in parts per million (ppm). At the refinery, heating oil goes through a process called hydrodesulphurization (a mouth full) to remove the sulfur. Traditional oil has a sulfur content of 4,000 ppm; ultra-low sulfur heating oil only has a sulfur content of 15 ppm. Talk about a dramatic decrease.

If you’d learn more about safety, visit Consumer Heating Oil Safety Concerns.

That decrease translates into good news for the environment and public health, because lower sulfur content in heating oil significantly reduces the amount of nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, and particulate matter emissions—all of which are linked to environmental and public health issues. Lowering sulfur emissions is a tremendous win.

Another win with ULS heating oil is that it makes your heating system more efficient.

Heating oil is efficient

You’re probably wondering what it means to say that home heating oil is efficient. The best way to show what that means is to talk about heating oil in relation to natural gas. Home heating oil contains 35% more British Thermal Units (BTUs) per gallon than natural gas. If you’re not up on your BTUs, a BTU is a way to measure energy. It’s the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at sea level.)

So, put another way, a gallon of heating oil produces 35% more heat than a gallon of natural gas. Heating oil is efficient because you can use less fuel to make the same amount of heat. It’s also efficient because it produces the hottest flame of any home heating fuel, allowing it to warm your house faster.

And that efficiency part extends to your heating system as well, because using ULS heating oil improves its efficiency. Here’s why:

Sulfur doesn’t burn, so during the heating cycle, it builds up in your furnace’s heat exchanger (for more on how a furnace works, read What’s the Difference Between Heating Fuels?) With traditional heating oil, that sulfur buildup decreases the efficiency of your heating system because it clogs the flow of heated air.

Today, Ultra Low Sulfur heating oil contains less sulfur, and thereby reduces the amount of sulfur buildup and allows your system to run at a more efficient level.

ULS heating oil also reduces the frequency of system cleaning. A cleaner heat exchanger will make your heating system run more efficiently and save you money. 

Just want the Cliff notes? Here you go:  ultra low sulfur heating oil = less sulfur buildup in your heat exchanger = a cleaner burn = a more efficient heating system. Everybody wins.

Don’t forget today’s more efficient heating systems

The heating systems on the market today are also markedly more efficient than they used to be. Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is a measure of how efficiently your furnace or boiler can use fuel. The more efficient your heating system, the more heat you’ll get per unit of fuel (in other words, the less oil you have to buy).

Today’s oil furnaces and boilers can have an AFUE rating of over 95 percent.  That means they use all but 5 percent or less of the fuel needed to heat your home. Pretty sweet.

That said, not all boilers are equal—and if yours isn’t in tip-top shape, it might not be getting that A+ efficiency rating. Make sure to get an annual cleaning (which typically includes an efficiency test) to make sure you’re heating to your full potential.

Heating oil systems are durable

Most oil furnaces and boilers come with a 10-year warranty, but that doesn’t mean your system will only last for 10 years! In fact, new heating oil systems should last for 15 to 25 years or more, if you do a good job of taking care of them. And using ULS heating oil will help your furnace running smoothly and efficiently thereby lengthening the life of your system.

Safe, efficient, durable. It’s easy to see why so many New Englanders count on heating oil to heat our homes through those long and snowy winters. Now you just need to keep the tank filled—and we can help with that! Need some tips on when to order? Visit “When Should I Order More Heating Oil?”.

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