Heating Oil Facts
  • By ezHomeHeating.com
  • In Blog
  • Posted January 23, 2015

Heating Oil Facts

Heating oil or Fuel oil is a low viscosity petroleum product which is primarily used for heating homes. It is predominantly used in the Northeast US States.


Heating oil (also known as No. 2 oil) is refined from crude oil. During the refining process, heating oil condenses between 475 and 670 degrees Fahrenheit compared to other distillates which condense between 650 and 750 degrees Fahrenheit.

Compositionally, it is quite similar to diesel fuel except for the amount of sulfur - slightly higher in heating oil. Heating oil is dyed red to clearly distinguish it from diesel. This is done to keep it tax-exempt and to make sure that its not legally used as diesel for for transportation (which is taxed).

No. 2 Heating oil has a flash point of 126 degrees Fahrenheit and produces roughly 138,500 BTU (British Thermal units) of energy per gallon.

Heating Oil Prices

The cost of heating oil is largely dependent on the cost of crude oil (as much as 60-70% of the total cost). Marketing and transportation costs account for the next biggest chunk (around 15-20%) and the remaining can be attributed to refining related costs.

Heating oil costs are also largely affected by the supply of crude which is controlled by the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) nations. Since the cost of crude is generally high in the winter months, heating oil prices are highest from October thru March.

Homeowners typically can save money on heating costs by filling their tanks in late summer or early fall months.

Average Heating Oil Prices


Heating oil is commonly delivered to homes via tanker trucks operated by independent oil dealers in local markets. Upon delivery it is stored in oil tanks located either in above-ground storage tanks in the basement/garages or in under-ground storage tanks.

A typical homeowner in the Northeast generally uses anywhere from 800-1300 gallons of heating oil during a typical winter.

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