Why Do Households Use Oil For Heating?

cold snowy house with oil heat

Heating oil is a popular choice for home heating – especially in the Northeast. But what makes heating oil so popular here? It turns out that home heating oil is not only extremely efficient, but also very safe and easy to come by in the Northeast. In today’s post we’ll break down the origins of home heating oil and why it remains such a popular fuel for home heating.

Home Heating Oil and Forced Hot Air

The Northeast US has some of the oldest homes in the country – with many dating back to the 1800s or earlier. In the early 1900s, many homes were heated with coal-fired furnaces in the basement. Coal was delivered by truck and shoveled into a hot furnace to keep the home warm. In the 1930s, oil-fired furnaces were introduced, and slowly began to replace coal or wood-fired systems of the past. Oil was much more convenient than coal or wood. Not only did it produce more heat, but it was much easier to operate, as the oil could simply be stored in and drawn from a heating oil tank directly to the burner. This eliminated the need to manually add coal or wood to a burner in the basement.

The Transition to Home Heating Oil From Coal

The ease of heating with oil, coupled with the low cost and high heat output made home heating oil increasingly popular in the mid-1900s. Many coal delivery companies began to evolve into coal and home heating oil companies, and eventually began selling only heating oil.

The Benefits of Home Heating Oil

Home heating oil has many benefits when compared to other fuels such as natural gas, propane, electricity, or kerosene. For example, consider the difference between home heating oil and kerosene. Below are the main benefits of using home heating oil:

  • It’s Safe: At room temperature, home heating oil cannot be ignited. In fact, heating oil must be heated to 140° F and atomized before it can be ignited in a burner.
  • It’s Efficient: Heating oil produces over 138,000 BTUs per gallon. Home heating oil is significantly more efficient than propane, which produces approximately 91,500 BTUs per gallon. While oil furnaces are not able to deliver 100% of that heat to the home, they are able to deliver about 85% of it to the home, for about 117,725 effective BTUs per gallon. This compares to propane furnaces, which are about 95% efficient, and therefore produce approximately 86,925 effective BTUs per gallon.
  • It’s Cost-Effective: Oil prices in today’s market have dropped significantly from their peak. Oil is currently in the mid $1.50 range in the Northeast. This compares to propane which is well north of $2.00 per gallon. And considering a home needs 1.35 gallons of propane to produce the same amount of heat as one gallon of heating oil, the price for propane is nearly twice that of heating oil!
  • The Homeowner Is Free to Shop Around: Heating oil tanks always belong to the homeowner. Unlike with propane, you are free to buy from any supplier you’d like. This gives you maximum flexibility and saves you hundreds of dollars per year.
  • You Can Add Diesel If You Run Out: Since heating oil is virtually the same fuel as diesel, you will not be left in the cold if you accidentally run out. You can simply go to the gas station, grab five gallons of diesel fuel, and add it to your oil tank. Five gallons is usually enough to last the night until you can have the heating oil tank filled. Be sure to follow our guide if you ever run out of heating oil.

Home Heating Oil Is Extremely Easy to Monitor

Historically, folks with oil-heated homes have had to either sign up for ‘automatic delivery’ or remember to check their oil tank periodically. This would ensure they do not run out of home heating oil on a cold night.

Today, however, tools like the Smart Oil Gauge exist to alert you when your oil tank is low. You can track your usage per day, week, month, or year to know how much home heating oil you are using. You can adjust the thermostat to save heating oil as well. And finally, when you’re low, you can use a site like FuelSnap to easily shop for heating oil.

Home Heating Oil is a Great Source for Heat

If you’re shopping for a new home in the Northeast, you should feel comfortable if it is heated with oil. Home heating oil provides great value in that it is relatively inexpensive and produces significant BTUs per gallon.

Having a heating oil tank inside the house means you can buy heating oil on a site like FuelSnap from whichever heating oil dealer you’d like. Check local New England oil prices, and pay with a credit card to have heating oil delivered in no time. Do not worry about getting stuck with one single supplier as is often the case with propane or natural gas.

Happy heating,

Steve

How to Order Home Heating Oil | Buy Heating Oil with FuelSnap in CT

Ordering oil online.

Ordering home heating oil was once a truly daunting task. The fact that there are hundreds of home heating oil delivery companies to choose from is great. But choosing between them can be challenging to say the least. Ever try to Google “best oil company”? There are dozens of websites to choose from, making the choice quite difficult. You also need to consider how much heating oil to order and how to buy oil. If this is you, check out our blog post here on how much is in your tank.

When it comes to filling up, there are a variety of ways to order heating oil:

  • Automatic home heating oil delivery: old-fashioned, and expensive
  • Ordering fuel oil via phone: old-fashioned, and time consuming
  • Ordering heating oil online: quick, transparent, and secure

Automatic Home Heating Oil Delivery

This is the old way of ensuring you always had heating oil throughout winter. Automatic delivery means you sign a contract with a local oil delivery company. You give them ALL your business for the year, and they take care of scheduling deliveries at their convenience. So, in exchange for ALL your business, what do you get in return? You get to pay extra! How much are automatic delivery oil prices? Oil prices are, on average, $0.40 to $0.80 per gallon higher for automatic delivery customers. This adds up to hundreds of dollars extra every year, since most homes use 800 to 1000 gallons per season.

Before the internet, local oil companies convinced homeowners that there was tremendous value in automatic delivery. You would not have to run down to the tank to check the level periodically. Today, however, times have changed. With devices like the Smart Oil Gauge, you no longer need to remember to check the gauge. The Smart Oil Gauge gives you an app on your phone to tell you the level, and even alerts you when your home oil tank is low. This way you know exactly when the time is right to order heating oil.

With a Smart Oil Gauge, you can cut the cord, and start saving hundreds of dollars a year by discontinuing automatic delivery. When it’s time to fill up, you can choose from any heating oil company you’d like. Find a reputable dealer with a great price, and fill up on your own terms.

Worried about your heating oil service contract? If your oil company says you have to be on automatic delivery to receive a service contract, that should be a red flag. Check out this blog post on the truth about service contracts. You do not need to be on automatic delivery to receive a service contract.

Ordering Via Phone

Many home heating oil companies are a bit slow to evolve to the changing times. One of my favorite, long-standing local oil companies has no website. You have to call their phone number, press 1 to hear today’s oil price, then listen to a recording to find out the price. Then, if you want to actually order oil, you have to hang up, call back, and dial a different extension to place the order. Oh, and you don’t even get to talk to a human at this point. You have to leave a message on the answering machine and HOPE that someone received it and has scheduled your delivery.

At other home heating oil companies, you can call to order, and you end up on the phone with someone in the office. If this is the case, you’ll have to discuss payment options. Many companies will take a credit card over the phone. This is certainly more convenient than paying with cash or check. It also allows the final amount to be adjusted based on the amount delivered. With cash or a check, you’ll need to know the correct amount and meet the driver to pay for the delivery. In some cases, you may be able to mail a check in after the fact. This too, takes considerably more time than paying by credit card. You’ll want to know your options up front though, before placing the order.

Ordering heating oil by phone is cumbersome and requires calling multiple local oil dealers to compare prices. Be prepared to provide a credit card over the phone, or meet the driver with a check or cash when the delivery is made.

Ordering Heating Oil Online

By far the most convenient way to buy heating oil is online. Many modern home heating oil companies in CT have their own website, where you can create an account, and securely order heating oil online with a credit card. This is much more convenient than ordering by phone, but still does not allow you to price compare. If you Google “Connecticut heating oil prices”, a myriad of different websites will pop up. From anonymous sites that will not tell you what oil company you are ordering from, to every unique heating oil dealer’s website on its own.

Navigating through home heating oil companies online is cumbersome to say the least. With sites like FuelSnap, however, searching is easy. Find the cheapest home heating oil, and buy heating oil in seconds. Choose from real companies, with real-life user reviews before ordering. Choose the number of gallons and your delivery date to know when oil’s coming. Pay securely with a credit card, and know there will be no surprises when the truck comes. With a Smart Oil Gauge installed, you can order only what your tank will hold. You no longer have to estimate how much to order.

Using a heating oil site like FuelSnap, you can compare multiple heating oil dealers. You’ll know you’re getting the best price for heating oil, and are ordering from a trustworthy dealer.

What is the Best Way to Order Heating Oil?

Considering the options, the first question to answer is should I sign up for automatic delivery? Ten or twenty years ago we would have said yes. But today, with technology like the Smart Oil Gauge, you will save hundreds of dollars per year by NOT signing up for automatic delivery. You should always buy oil as needed, as this will ensure you are getting the best home heating oil price available at that time.

When your tank is low, it’s time to order heating oil. If your preferred oil company has a website, that may be a good place to start. However, you should always spot check other sites, or go to a marketplace site like FuelSnap, to make sure you are getting a good deal. The dealer with a great price at the beginning of the season may end up being much more expensive toward the end of the season.

Whatever you do, you’ll want to pay securely with a credit card online. Giving credit cards over the phone means the final charge is at the dealer’s discretion. When your card is charged up front, the dealer can refund you money for oil that was unable to fit in your tank, but the dealer cannot charge you more. This means you know the maximum you will spend – before the delivery.

Before placing an order for heating oil online, be sure to read reviews. Buy from only a trusted, local oil company, and never trust your delivery to an anonymous company online.

Happy heating,

Steve

COVID19 and Heating Oil – What to Know, and What to Do

It’s March 25, 2020, and we’re three days into the State of Connecticut’s order for non-essential businesses to send everyone home. Schools have been closed for almost two weeks now, and isolationism has become the new norm. Thank you all for doing your part to help flatten the curve and get through this pandemic.

We wanted to take a moment and highlight what steps Heating Oil and HVAC companies are taking right now, and what you can do as a homeowner to help. Rest assured, you will still be able to heat your homes during these difficult times. But with cases increasing rapidly, companies are making changes to curb the spread. What can you do? Make sure you order your heating oil online to reduce the burden on office staff. Pay with a credit card to eliminate interaction with the drivers. And reschedule any non-essential HVAC work for a later date.

Heating Oil – An Essential Business

Essential businesses have been defined in a variety of ways, and include must-have services, such as utilities and mail. Heating Oil and Propane delivery are included as essential, as we all need to heat our homes. In addition, with everyone home during the day, heating oil consumption has gone up in many homes.

While it is OK for the trucks to still make deliveries, many companies have started to implement changes to their operations, including:

  • Many have elected to forego ‘topping off’ tanks at this time, focusing instead on making sure no one runs out.
  • Driver head count has been reduced, with anyone who has been exposed to the virus or feeling even slightly ill being asked to self-quarantine for several weeks.
  • Some dealers are no longer leaving delivery tickets, or are leaving the ticket in a plastic bag by the mailbox instead of at the door.
  • Office staff are either sent home, or working at a very limited capacity.
  • Many dealers are NOT taking cash or checks (credit card orders only) to limit interactions with the homeowner.
Heating Oil Truck Making A Delivery.
Heating Oil Delivery Drivers Are Taking Extra Precautions During the COVID19 Pandemic.

HVAC Service – Also Essential

If you are having trouble with your heating system, rest assured that technicians are standing by. These are the steps HVAC companies are taking at this time:

  • Most, if not all, non-emergency service work is being postponed for the time being.
  • Technicians are wearing gloves and sanitizing all surfaces they come in contact with at a residence when performing service work.
  • Employees are practicing social-distancing, maintaining 6′ of separation from others.
  • Technicians are interviewing homeowners before entering the home, to confirm no one in the house is sick.

Smart Oil Gauge Keeps Property Managers Home

While we are not an ‘essential business’, we made sure to build up enough inventory over the past several weeks to get through this. I am personally shipping products out of my house while the whole team works remotely. Not surprisingly, we have seen an increased demand from property managers lately. They are using the Smart Oil Gauge to eliminate in-person visits to check on oil levels at various buildings.

What You Can Do As A Homeowner

Helping to curtail the spread of this virus is imperative at this time. Here are a few steps you can take as a homeowner:

  • Avoid scheduling any non-essential service work at your home at this time.
  • ONLY order heating oil online. This means using a site like FuelSnap and paying with a credit card. Buying heating oil online reduces the strain on office staff who otherwise would have to answer the phone and process the orders manually.
  • ONLY pay with credit card for your service work or Heating Oil. Handling checks and cash only puts the drivers and office staff at risk. Ordering oil online ahead of time eliminates cash and checks from the equation.
  • If you must have a technician in your home, sanitize all doorknobs and surfaces BEFORE and AFTER the technician performs the service.
  • Give plenty of space – 6′ minimum – to anyone who enters your home.
  • DO NOT go outside to greet the delivery driver as you may be accustomed to doing.

Stay Home, Stay Safe

Thank you again to everyone making sacrifices as we get through this unprecedented time. We will continue to provide support for anyone who needs it – don’t hesitate to reach out anytime.

Stay safe,

Steve

Using FuelSnap to Order Heating Oil with the Smart Oil Gauge

FuelSnap Founder Steve Using FuelSnap Application

With single digit temps around the corner, now’s a great time to order Heating Oil if your tank is low. When it comes to ordering oil for your tank, there are lots of companies to choose from, and many ways to go about it.

In today’s video we’ll walk you through the process of checking prices and selecting a dealer right through your Smart Oil Gauge app using the built-in FuelSnap feature.

Some of the key points we touch on are:

0:15 – When is the right time to order oil (“Reorder at a quarter” is a good rule of thumb).

1:05 – How to check Heating Oil prices where you live, and toggle through different delivery days to make sure you’re getting the best price.

1:40 – How to adjust the # of gallons ordered to see how the price is changed.

2:20 – How to read reviews for your Heating Oil dealers.

2:30 – Checking out – setting the number of gallons.

2:45 – Setting your Tank Address information (the more information here, the better!).

3:19 – Entering credit card information (*Note: Make sure the Billing Address is correct for the card you have entered).

3:42 – How to view the Order Summary.

3:50 – Submitting the order.

Give it a try in your app, and if you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to email us at info@fuelsnap.com or give us a call anytime at 203-456-1015.

Happy Heating,

Steve Williams

In The World of Nest and Ring, Danbury Startups Sales Heating Up

Steve and Joe, the Founders of FuelSnap and Smart Oil Gauge

Article by Alexander Soule, Hearst Media, February 5, 2020

Like so many entrepreneurs, Steve Williams launched his startup to solve a need — his own needs that is, after he bought a Victorian fixer-upper in Ridgefield, only to discover heating bills that were going through the roof.

Four years later, the bills are under control — and Connected Consumer Fuel continues to build a following for its Smart Oil Gauge sensor that feeds oil tank levels to homeowner mobile phones, along with up-to-date prices for those looking to order an on-the-spot delivery.

Williams and cofounder Joe Mygatt have developed the Smart Oil Gauge quietly in Danbury, even as Google and Amazon have accelerated consumer acceptance of devices like Nest thermostats, Alexa voice assistants and Ring doorbells with enabling technology for remote control via an “Internet of things.”

“If you think about it, the IoT space is growing like mad but there are certain little pockets like heating oil tanks that … have not been addressed,” Williams said. “If you think about this industry, that (oil) gauge probably hasn’t changed in 50 years. It’s a cork on the end of a little rod and a hinge. … They are so low tech.”

Avon is home to an early IoT innovator in iDevices, which a decade ago used its iGrill wireless meat thermometer as a springboard to developing other products like a propane grill tank fuel monitor, before being acquired three years ago for $60 million by Shelton-based Hubbell.

In setting out to find a way to accurately measure his fast-draining home heating oil tank, Williams leveraged technical experience from his days with Branson Ultrasonics, which is based currently in Danbury with plans to move into a new headquarters that is under construction a short distance north in Brookfield.

He enlisted his Ridgefield childhood friend Mygatt, a Princeton University graduate who worked previously for a robotics company, with the pair sharing a laugh this week at their early Smart Oil Gauge prototypes that amounted to a pile of wiring and a sensor mounted on a bread board.

The Smart Oil Gauge is comparatively elegant today, a white cylinder that screws into the top of oil tanks, pinging ultrasound hourly to deduce oil levels. An accompanying FuelSnap app allows homeowners to generate reports of their fuel consumption, as well as check up-to-date prices of local delivery companies and place orders.

After selling the Smart Oil Gauge initially on Amazon and the company’s own website at www.smartoilgauge.com — it is priced at about $160 today — Williams and Mygatt expanded into wholesale channels through heating contractors and oil companies, to include Sid Harvey’s, F.W. Webb and Torrco.

That led to a derivative product called Droplet for heating oil delivery companies, with Connected Consumer Fuel estimating it can help those companies get a better estimate on tank levels and eliminate one truck run annually for each customer account, a significant savings to their bottom line in an industry with tight profit margins.

Williams and Mygatt indicated they expect to find additional applications for the platform they have developed to sense tank levels. One market they have explored — but elected not to try to crack — is Canada, due to a wide range of tank designs that would force the company to design any number of iterations in order to fit into tank openings.”

Williams said the company may in time seek outside venture investment, but for now is plugging along fine funding the business through regular sales revenue since its 2016 launch and early glitches like dropping off home WiFi networks, which the company was able to solve.

“We built 10 of them and we said, ‘All right, if we can sell 10 we’ll buy the components to 100 circuit boards,’” Williams said. “We sold 10 in a few days, and then we sold 100. … I am using the 26th one we ever built, and it’ still kicking.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

$2 a gallon Heating Oil?

$2 heating oil on FuelSnap

February is here which means Winter is not over yet! We’ve had some freezing rain and a bit of snow in CT over the past week, and heating oil season seems to be back in full swing, despite a record hot January.

Corona Virus Impacts Heating Oil Prices

A few macro events have affected prices recently, the biggest of which is the Corona Virus that is becoming a global epidemic. Per Bloomberg as of today, the death toll of the Corona Virus has exceeded 805, which is the number of lives that the SARS outbreak claimed in the early 2000s. Fortunately, China has committed $10B to combatting the virus, and the US has installed checkpoints at all the major hotspots where foreigners enter the country.

Meanwhile, global travel has ground to a halt, with virtually all air travel in and out of China on hold. Believe it or not, this has quite a meaningful impact on the global demand for oil, so we’re seeing prices lower than they’ve been all season. FuelSnap prices are ranging in the low-to-mid $2 range, with some areas on Long Island even dipping below $2 this week.

Prices in Long Island have dipped as low as $2/gallon recently.

FuelSnap in The News

We had some exciting press coverage this week, where Joe and I were featured on the cover of the CT Post, New Haven Register, and the Danbury News Times (maybe elsewhere too?). I will write an additional blog post covering this article so you can read it start-to-finish, as some of these sites require a subscription to read the article.

Going into Valentine’s Day week, we’re continuing to add dealers to the FuelSnap network. Just this past week, we’ve added dealers in the central/coastal CT area, Suffolk County, Long Island area, and Portland, Maine area. We’ve got great coverage now throughout most of the Northeast and folks are loving the convenience of ordering through the platform. Lots to come in the coming months, so stay tuned!

Happy heating,

Steve Williams