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There are many negative associations and downright misconceptions associated with oil heating, but this is actually a safe and effective way to heat your Edgewater, Maryland, home. If you’re using heating oil for the first time, this quick primer will give you a better idea of what to expect. Once you understand how it works, you’ll find you’re well-equipped to use heating oil both efficiently and affordably.

Is Heating Oil Safe and Clean?

Heating oil has a very low risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. As it is a liquid, and not a pressurized gas, there’s no risk of an explosion. Modern heating oil burners are extremely clean and do not release odors or soot when operating properly. As biodiesel heating oils become more readily available, those who rely on oil heating will have the opportunity to become even greener in their heating efforts.

How Much Oil Does the Tank Hold?

If you have an aboveground tank, you can determine its capacity with a few simple measurements. Simply multiply the length, width and height by 0.0043 to get the tank’s capacity in gallons. In-ground tanks prove a bit trickier. If you’re able to fill it from empty, you’ll have an idea of its total capacity. A professional can assist with more complex calculations by measuring the amount of oil in the tank before filling, and the amount needed for it to reach capacity. Oil tanks come in several standard sizes, and typically hold 288, 340, 420, 518, 550, 555, or 675 gallons.

When Should I Order Heating Oil?

You may want to consider placing your first heating oil order is in early fall before the heating season. Prices tend to spike as temperatures drop. Depending on the capacity of your tank, a single fill-up may last you the entire season. After a year or two of use, you will have a good idea of how much heating oil you need to get through the winter. Many factors come into play, including the size of your home, furnace efficiency, outdoor temperatures, and indoor comfort level.

Though it’s impossible to provide an accurate estimate of how much heating oil a home will use, a general rule of thumb is to plan for about 100 gallons per month for the three coldest months of the year. The remaining nine months typically use the same amount of oil together as the three coldest months combined. So, if you use 300 gallons of heating oil to make it from December to February, you will probably use about 300 gallons again to get from March to November.

What are Degree Days and K-Factors Used For?

Many heating oil companies monitor your usage to determine when you will need oil delivery again. These calculations are performed using degree days and a K-factor. The degree days calculation adds the high and low temperatures on a given day, divides it by two, and subtracts 65 from the quotient. This number is added to your home’s K-factor.

The K-factor determines “degree days per gallon” (think something similar to “miles per gallon” here) to estimate how quickly you use heating oil. Over time, our heating oil company can settle on a relatively stable K-factor for your home. We can then calculate your next delivery using your unique K-factor and our own calculations.

What Factors Influence Oil Prices?

You’ll undoubtedly notice that heating oil prices fluctuate much the way gas prices do. They’re impacted by supply and demand, market competition, regional operating costs, and speculation. Following both the news and the weather may give you an idea of what to expect in the way of oil prices. If a cold front is coming, you won’t be the only person to rush to fill up their oil tank. Wholesale heating oil prices can give you a clue about market activity, but they won’t always reflect local prices.

If your home relies on heating oil, it’s important to find a reliable supplier so you know who to call when you’re running low. Your tank and oil furnace both require annual tuneups in addition to your regular fill-ups to stay in peak condition. Contact Griffith Energy Services at 888-474-3391 to make an appointment now.

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