If you live in the northeast, you have probably become accustomed to spending significantly more on energy in the winter months as you heat your home. If your home is heated with heating oil, there is good news: there are several ways to save money on heating oil over the course of a winter season. Below are the top 10 ways to save money on heating oil, starting with the most significant.
- Discontinue Automatic Delivery. Automatic heating oil delivery was popular for decades, since it meant homeowners did not have to periodically check their oil tanks and call the company to refuel. Because of this convenience, however, dealers charge an average of $0.50 more per gallon for automatic delivery! This equates to hundreds of dollars per year when compared with simply buying oil as needed. To estimate how much oil your house goes through in a given season, check out this post here. Since an average home uses over 800 gallons of heating in a given season, you can expect to save $400 dollars or more simply by ordering oil as needed and taking advantage of the ‘spot’ price.
- Install a Smart Oil Gauge. As they say in business: what gets measured, gets managed. Establish a baseline to determine how much the following steps save you. A Smart Oil Gauge will tell you – by the hour – how much oil your heating system is consuming. It will show you daily, weekly, monthly, and annual totals as well. Track this to see how much heating oil these improvements save you over time. It also will alert you when your tank is low, so you can cut cancel your automatic delivery contract and start saving hundreds of dollars per year right away.
- Install a Programmable WiFi Thermostat. Once you’ve gotten the usage data out of your Smart Oil Gauge, you can start to monitor your heating oil consumption throughout the day. You can see, for instance, how much oil you burn during the day when nobody is home. Then you can set the thermostat to automatically lower a few degrees during the day and see how much oil this saves you. With some systems, you may find that you burn more oil by adjusting the temperature – only a Smart Oil Gauge will give you this type of insight though.
- Tune-Up Your HVAC System. You should have your HVAC system tuned up annually, or at least every other year to ensure it is running as efficiently as possible. Cleaning out the system will ensure that as much heat as possible is created for every gallon of heating oil used, and that your filters are clean so air can flow freely through your house if you have forced hot air. A tune-up also acts as preventative maintenance so you will be less likely to have a breakdown in the middle of winter.
- Seal Drafty Doors. Adding something as simple as foam tape around the perimeter of an entry door can seal off the door quite significantly. Touch your hand to the perimeter of the door and feel for cold spots to know where cold air is coming in. Usually the bottom of the door ends up letting the most cold air in. If this is the case, installing a simple under-the-door sweep can seal it off nicely while still allowing the door to open and close easily.
- Seal Drafty Windows. Especially in older houses, you will find that a lot of heat escapes through the windows. To find out, put your hand near the window and feel for a draft. To eliminate the draft, install plastic film over the windows to create a seal. Cut the plastic to size, use double-stick tape to secure around the perimeter, and then use a hairdryer to shrink wrap the film in place. Consider doing this on any exterior French doors that you are not using during the winter as well.
- Add or Improve Insulation. Insulation – the pink cotton candy-like substance that you see inside walls – is what acts as your home’s blanket. Insulation keeps warm air in and cold air out during the winter months. Homes built earlier than the mid-1900s almost never have insulation. If this is the case, you should consider getting a quote for some blown-in insulation. You can add blown-in insulation from the exterior of the house without replacing all the siding. Instead, you can add insulation through small holes or by removing individual strips of siding. This can pay dividends if you plan on staying in your home long term.
- Close Off Unused Spaces. We especially recommend this for homes with forced hot air. Simply close the air vents in any unused rooms, and close the door to that room as well. Be sure to not close off too many vents in one particular part of the house though. This could create back pressure that is detrimental to your heating system. If your home uses a boiler, adjust the temperature down in the parts of the house that are unused. Just be careful during extremely cold weather though, as turning the heat down too far can lead to frozen pipes.
- Upgrade Your HVAC System. Oil-fired HVAC systems tend to last as long as 30 years! That said, they do tend to lose efficiency over time. As a result, they convert less of the heating oil to heat as the furnace ages. If your furnace is over 15 years old, you may consider installing a new one. Newer oil furnaces or boilers are much more efficient and generate more heat than older ones. Track your consumption using a Smart Oil Gauge to see exactly how much heating oil the new system saves you.
- Replace/Upgrade Your Windows. Along with replacing your HVAC system, replacing your windows can have a major impact on your heating oil consumption. That said, both of these improvements can be quite costly. Therefore, we we only recommend them if you are going to be in the home for many years and you’ve already gone through the list above. Newer, dual-paned windows are significantly more energy efficient than the single-paned windows found in older homes. Dual-paned windows feature an air gap between the panes that acts as an insulative barrier keeping the cold air out and the warm air in.
Start To Save Money on Heating Oil Today
Hopefully you’re able to take some of these suggestions and start to save money on heating oil today. Just remember, the biggest savings is achieved by cancelling your Automatic Delivery contract. Instead, ordering heating oil online through a site like FuelSnap. You’ll start saving money immediately, and then you can start to look at energy efficiency improvements. And to really understand your consumption, start by tracking your heating oil usage using a Smart Oil Gauge. Understand your baseline heating oil usage by collecting data for a year. Then, start working your way through the list above to save money on heating oil. Most of these improvements will pay for themselves over time, and all will lead to a more comfortable home during the winter months.