Even though it'll soon be spring, you should still consider how to lower your oil heating costs. A modest home of roughly 2,500 square feet burns up to five gallons of oil daily. The more you can decrease the oil you burn, the less you'll pay.
Lower costs can be achieved with better management of your oil usage and your furnace and oil consumption. Here are some tips on each:
How to Manage Your Home's Oil Usage
Monitoring your oil usage can help you track how much you are using and when.
1. Perform an Energy Audit
The less energy your home needs, the less oil you will use. Local utilities will often come out to your home and do an energy audit for you. They will tell you of any areas that need to be sealed or caulked to prevent air from entering from the outside—or escaping from a warm inside, for that matter. An audit can ensure that you utilize the energy from oil at maximum efficiency.
2. Make Any Necessary Changes
Make any changes an energy audit indicates, such as if you have patio doors or windows that need to be weather-stripped. If you have an attic that needs to be insulated, have it insulated. If your vents need to be cleaned, have them cleaned. If any areas need to be sealed or caulked, have them sealed or caulked.
You may want to install new windows if they've become warped and let in a lot of air. Some energy audits will note that drafts come in if there is a gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. You can install a new door or place towels or blankets over the gap in cold weather.
3. Install a Programmable or Smart Thermostat
The lower your thermostat is set, the less oil you’ll use. A programmable thermostat will allow you to keep the temperature low during the day and higher when you get home. Many smart thermostats can be turned on or off from your smartphone.
4. Wear Warm Clothes
While you don't want to be uncomfortable in your house during the winter, there are many ways to keep the heat set to a minimum while still maintaining warmth. Wear warm clothing indoors as well as out. Dress in layers and wear natural fibers, like wool, because they keep heat in more than synthetics. Wool sweaters and socks will go a long way in keeping you warm. Don't forget to pile on the afghans as you watch television.
5. Manage Your Home to Be as Warm as Possible
Manage your home to keep it warm and conserve energy. First, move furniture away from any radiators or vents to ensure maximum circulation of the warm air. Second, take advantage of the sun. Open any drapes and window coverings. Prune trees or bushes in front of large windows and congregate in areas in front of them. Third, if you have a fireplace, use it for heating. Fourth, if there are any major rooms or areas you no longer use, seal them off so energy isn't lost through them.
6. Turn Thermostats Down at Night
Remember, blankets and comforters are your friends at night. If you use them, you can turn your thermostat down just enough so the pipes don't freeze. You can use your programmable/smart thermostat to turn the heat back up before you have to rise and shine.
How to Manage Your Furnace and Oil Consumption
Managing your consumption will keep heating bills low, and it's a relatively easy thing to do.
1. Maintain Your Furnace Annually
Furnaces need to be cleaned and maintained annually to perform at their best. You can reduce your overall energy consumption by making sure your furnace has regular maintenance appointments. The professionals who come out can advise you if the furnace needs any repairs before anything goes wrong. They can also let you know when a new furnace is needed.
2. Review Your Pricing Options
Shop for the best deal on oil pricing. It is sometimes possible to order oil at a fixed price for the year or to buy with a price cap. A fixed price is just what it sounds like: Your oil deliveries will cost the same for the duration of the agreement. A cap means your cost will never go above a maximum agreed-upon price for the season.
3. Buy Oil Off-Peak
Purchasing your oil during the winter often means it will be priced higher, as that's the time when demand is highest. If you can buy oil in an off-peak season, the price will often be lower. If the capacity of your home allows you to buy a lot of oil at once, you can benefit from buying off-peak.
4. Ask for Any Relevant Discounts
Some oil companies offer discounts if you can buy in large quantities or are a senior citizen. If either or both of these apply to you, it's worth asking about.
Lowering your oil heating costs can be done with two steps: managing your home's energy consumption, and managing your furnace and oil supply. Doing these things will help you stay warm and comfortable year-round.
Megan Wild is a home improvement specialist who loves fixing up old homes and making them beautiful and functional again. When she's not writing, you can find her hiking in the great outdoors or tweeting housing information @Megan_Wild.