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A lot of misinformation is circulating about fuel oil for home heating. Some of the bogus facts can cost you money. Learn the truth about fuel oil for home heating.

Straightening Out Fuel Oil Myths

home oil tank

  • Myth: Heating with oil is expensive.
    Fact:
    Fuel oil for home heating is cheaper now than it was in 1980 if you adjust the cost for inflation. According to Oilheat America, some 8.6 million households use fuel oil for heating.
  • Myth: Oil heating isn’t as energy efficient as other fossil-fuel alternatives.
  • Fact: A gallon of heating oil has an output of 139,000 British thermal units (BTUs), which makes it competitive with most other fuels. In addition, modern oil heating systems are much more energy efficient than they used to be, using less oil to produce the same amount of heat energy. A typical residence that used 1,200 gallons of fuel oil for home heating in 1989 might use only 900 gallons today. This trend is expected to continue.
  • Myth: If there’s sludge in my oil tank, it’s the fault of my oil dealer.
    Fact:
    Your oil dealer only has a responsibility to deliver clean fuel oil to your home or business. While an oil dealer can and should ensure watertightness in their big storage tanks and delivery trucks, the dealer has absolutely no control over processes at the refinery, such as the refining process itself, blending and general conditions. A professional oil dealer should make sure that bulk storage tanks are sealed tightly from water intrusion, and they’re without debris, such as gasket residue, lint from rags, etc.
  • Myth: Refineries take shortcuts when producing fuel oil.
    Fact:
    To a large extent, an oil refinery is at the mercy of the product that comes into the facility. Garbage in, garbage out, as the old saying goes. The relative quality of crude oil depends on a number of factors, including what part of the world the oil came from. On the other hand, “sweet” crude, which has a lower sulfur content than “sour” crude, might come from the same continent.
  • Myth: When it comes to fuel oil, there are no uniform standards.
    Fact:
    The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) has a system that standardizes five basic grades of fuel oil — Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6. The fuel oil you use for heating is No. 2. During testing, technicians account for flash point, pour point, percentage of sediment and sulfur content.
  • Myth: Dealers employ additives to prevent sludge buildup in residential fuel tanks.
    Fact:
    You can use the best additive in the world, but it’s still not going to totally prevent sludge forming in the tank. To prevent sludge buildup, some preventive care is necessary, specifically having the bottom of your fuel tank cleaned, then using recommended additives on a set regimen. This will slow but not stop sludge from returning to the tank.
  • Myth: If your fuel oil tank has sludge at the bottom, you’re out of luck. Your only recourse is to replace the tank.
    Fact:
    Cleaning the tank is a practical and cheaper alternative to replacing it. This should be done every three to five years. Consider this: Cleaning costs comprise a 1/50 of the cost of replacing the tank. Only replace the tank if there’s a hazard of leakage or failure from long-term rusting and corrosion.
  • Myth: Heating with oil has serious environmental consequences.
    Fact:
    Compared to 40 years ago, fuel oil burns more than 90 percent cleaner, with substantially less emissions. In the macro sense, residential oil heating comprises only 0.33 percent of total particulate emissions in the U.S. Meanwhile, the heating oil industry is working with federal environmental agencies to reduce sulfur content in oil from 1,500 parts per million to 15 ppm by 2018.
  • Myth: Oil heating isn’t renewable.
    Fact:
    The heating oil industry is steadily moving toward fuel blends that contain a significant proportion of renewable fuel. This offers the prospect of making heating oil the alternative with the lowest emissions of any fossil fuel. Look at it this way: If just 1/20 of Americans heated their homes with a quality renewable fuel blend, it would equal removing 700,000 motor vehicles from the roads, according to Oilheat America.

Learn more about fuel oil for home heating from the experts at Griffith Energy Services, Inc., or give us a call today at 888-474-3391 to schedule an appointment!

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