How to calculate heating oil usage

Written by mark fitzpatrick
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How to calculate heating oil usage
A homeowner can calculate how much oil she is using in winter and compare it to the potential savings from installing a more efficient heating system. (old home image by Alexander Zhiltsov from

Heating oil use rises when a region experiences bitter cold winter months. With oil becoming more expensive each year, many consumers and homeowners are trying to calculate how much home heating fuel and oil they are consuming. Knowing how much your household consumes may help you figure out new cost-cutting strategies, such as installing better insulation or updating your heating system. You will need to know several variables first to find an accurate measurement of your heating oil usage.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Consider the heating efficiency of your household. Heating efficiency is how well your home heating system distributes heat throughout your household. In general, home heating oil systems that are relatively new operate at a 70 per cent to 85 per cent efficiency range. Any heating system older than a decade may only operate at a 50 per cent to 75 per cent efficiency range.

  2. 2

    Record how many times a year you filled your tank. Refer to old bills that state how much oil is being filled into your tank. Add up the gallons and see what it amounts to in a full year.

  3. 3

    Multiply the number of gallons used in a year by the standard measurement of heating value, the BTU or British thermal unit. One BTU is the potential to boil 0.454kg. of water. The BTU of heating oil per gallon is 138,690. The product of this calculation is your current oil usage. Keep the product of that calculation to the side.

  4. 4

    Consider a higher efficiency level for your calculation. If you know, for example, that your home heating is operating at 65 per cent, hypothetically state what could happen if your efficiency is raised to 90 per cent.

  5. 5

    Research what the average BTU is of a higher-grade heating system. This will vary depending on the efficiency of the new system.

  6. 6

    Compare the product of your actual home to what you could have with a more efficient home heating system. The different between the two values shows the inefficiency of your current heating system.

Tips and warnings

  • Although cost is important, adding cost to your calculation does not accurately work. This is because the cost of oil fluctuates on a daily level. Instead, this exercise focuses your concerns on how efficient you are consuming oil for home heating.

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