How long will a full tank of heating oil last?

We live in the best part of the country – hands-down. The fried clams, epic beach days, red and orange foliage in the fall, pristine powder snow for skiing in the winter* – it’s awesome. But, there is a footnote you saw– and it’s a big one. It’s super cold here for a good chunk of the year, and the weather can be intense with snow, ice, and whatever else Mother Nature is tossing our way.

Since you don’t want to run out of oil (especially during cold snaps or in the middle of the festive holiday season!), you probably want to know: how long will heating oil last in my tank? It’s an answer that has lots of variables, but we will help shed some light on it and help you be fully prepared for the winter up ahead!

First: How much does a tank even hold?

If you are like most people, you may say “looks like a lot.” And, well, you are right! Your tank (likely 275-gallons) can hold about 240 gallons.

Average household consumption

Let’s do a quick science lesson. We promise it’s actually cool!

In understanding oil consumption (we'll get to all the variables in a second), it’s really neat to see how the outside temperature impacts your burn rate inside. Basically, the colder it is outside the more oil you will use inside – making you run through your oil tank faster.

To put actual numbers to this concept, here’s a very basic estimate of tempature and oil consumption in a 2,000 square foot house:

Average Outside Temperature (°F)  Approximate Gallons Used in 1 Day  Approximate Days 1/4 of a Tank of Heating Oil (60 Gallons for average tank) Will Last
15 10 6
20 9 7
25 8 8
30 7 9
35 6 10
40 5 12
45 4 15
50 3 20

Super cool, right? If you aren’t as fascinated by wrapping your brain around this estimate (it’s OK, we all can’t be cool oil nerds), here’s our general rule of thumb: If your energy usage is average and your home is around 2,000 square feet, a ¼ of a tank should last you about a week during mid-winter months when the temperature is around 20 degrees.

If your house is totally average and it’s the middle of winter then a full tank of heating oil will last approximately 3-4 weeks. Remember to always Order at a Quarter!

Specific variables matter the most

Not to toss a wrench into the general estimates we just laid out, but this basically can be turned on its head depending on a lot of things! Say what? Here – we'll show you.

Is it January or July?

You will use more oil in the winter.

What is the size of your home?

Bigger house means more oil.

Who is touching the thermostat?

Did you know that you can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by changing your thermostat setting on the time of day? The Department of Energy knows its stuff! So if you are tempted to “set it and forget it,” remember that a one-size-fits-all-temperature is going to cost you more than altering it to different times of the day (i.e. sleeping) or when you are away from the house.

Is your house letting out all of the heat?

How quickly and how often is heat escaping your house? If it’s super drafty and you are heating the outside more than your home, you are going to fly through oil, spend a lot, and still be pretty chilly in your house – aka the worst way to trudge through winter. Proper insulation (especially in the basement) goes a long way to maximizing your heating efficiency (and minimizing your costs), so make these investments into your home.

Is your heating oil system working properly?

Simply, your system will be the most efficient and effective if it’s working right. If it seems a little off, here’s some quick considerations:

  • Is your furnace OK? If you are debating repair vs. replacement, this may help.

  • Do your annual tune-ups happen? If you forget to make that yearly maintenance appointment, you’ll pay for it later. Well-maintained heating systems run more efficiently and typically use less heating oil – a major cost savings that can add up throughout the year. Check out more about why this matters so much here!

  • Is something else going on? Call a technician, or give us a ring and we can point you in the right direction.

What mood is Mother Nature in?

We can plan and estimate all we want, but we all know who is in charge - Mother Nature! If she’s feeling mild, your tank will stay fuller longer. If she’s ready to unleash winter on us, you’ll be extra BFFs with the Heatable app this season.

Ordering oil when you need it

Ordering oil is no perfect science – you’ve got some things in your control, some things outside of your control, and a whole lot of going with the flow! Good thing Heatable knows what’s up.

If you know you need oil, but not sure how much of it, hop onto the Heatable app and order a fill. We will fill the tank until it’s full (when the whistle in the vent pipe stops that means it’s set, and we will only charge you for what we put in the tank. So even though we put a hold on your card when you place the order, we don’t charge it until after the correct amount of oil goes into the tank and our truck computer “talks” with the computers in the office. You pay for exactly what you get and not a penny more!

p.s. Never forget to Order at a Quarter – it will make sure you never run out of oil!

Is there an expiration date for heating oil?

Have you ever wondered does heating oil expire or can heating oil go bad?

Great questions! And we are going to level with you: There isn’t one definitive answer out there, and while we aren’t chemical engineers or scientists, we do have enough insight to give you an answer! Here are some quick helpful tidbits here:

Heating oil is different than gas (it lasts longer!)

  • Gasoline is more volatile and will evaporate and destabilize over the course of six months and can lose its combustibility. (And gasoline mixed with ethanol will separate in as little as 3 months).

  • Heating oil is a more stable fuel. So while it won’t “expire” like gasoline, it’s not great if it sits a long time and doesn’t circulate through the heating oil tank and filter like it should. When it sits, water can possibly get into the tank and this condensation can result in algae, bacteria, or sediment that can build up and clog the system (lines, filters, burner).

Actual “expiration” timing:

  • Oil should last over 18-24 months, but ULSHO oil (what we use at Heatable) should last well over 2 years in a moisture free environment. And since ULSHO has less impurities, it should technically extend the “life” of heating oil if everything else is properly maintained and working right!

Avoid moisture at all costs:

  • We already know condensation will make stuff grow in your tank (ew), but it can also contribute to faster tank erosion in older tanks. Basically the bacteria and sulfur from the oil make an acid that eats away at it. It can happen if the vent and fill pipe are not properly installed or if the tank is left empty for long periods of time. And, as we know, a corroded tank could result in a tank leak – a pricy and messy outcome.

  • Since tank “moisture” isn’t going to scream out at you, the best way to prevent this situation is to have your annual tune up!

Wow – I’m totally empowered to know how long this oil in my tank will last. So, when I’m ready to make my next order, what do I do?

At Heatable, we’re all about bringing you heating oil in the smartest, fastest, least expensive, and easiest way possible. To get started, simply enter your zip code on our website or app and see if you live in one of our ever-expanding Maine & New Hampshire delivery areas. If you do, we’ll show you the current price of oil – and let you know exactly when we can deliver it (hint: very quickly, we’re kinda known for that). You’ll need to enter a few pieces of information for your first delivery, and then from there on out you can order heating oil anywhere, anytime, and all online with just two taps and a swipe on your smartphone. Just Tap, Tap, Swipe and we bring the heat!

Learn more about Heating Oil

Visit our Ultimate Consumer’s Guide to Heating Oil for everything you need to know about heating your home with #2 heating oil.

Why Heatable?

Heatable’s the smart way to order oil! Our website and quick order app put you in control of your heating oil purchases. You can order anywhere and at any time. Just enter your zip to see your super-low price and get started.

We provide lower prices for all! Heatable is committed to providing consistently low heating oil prices. Our technology and streamlined process allow us to offer the same low price to everyone – no negotiating necessary.

We’re heating oil superstars! Founded by industry veterans, we’ve been around the block (literally hundreds of thousands of times). We have our own fleet of bright orange trucks, and we make our own deliveries.

Heating oil delivery at your fingertips. Try us today!

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