Heating oil is a type of fuel oil which is burned in special burners and furnaces to produce hot air for heating living spaces. Oil has been used to heat homes for hundreds of years and it may actually surprise some readers that the energy source is still used to heat many homes in the first world.
In fact, in the United States alone, roughly 5 million homes use heating oil to stay warm in the winter. If each home averages about 3 residents then we are talking about 15 million people who stay warm through the use of heating oil. By this math, it is obvious that 1 in 22 Americans depend on heating oil for warmth. That is roughly 5%.
What is Heating Oil?
Essentially a barrel of oil is separated into different components using a distilling method. The lightest product which is produced comes in a flammable gas form which is burned off during the refining process. The heaviest stuff is sludge and tar, stuff they use to pave roads and cure roofs with. Right in the middle of the batch is where you find heating oil.
Heating oil is a close relative to kerosene and aviation fuel. It packs an energetic punch but also has a high flash point which means it’s safe. Donna B., who provides heating oil in Lynchburg Virginia said “higher in the barrel is where you find gasoline and lighter fuels that pack plenty of power, but have a lower flash point. They are slightly less stable than the fuel we use for heating oil and would not be ideal to heat your home.”.
Heating Fuel by Region
In modern times, it has been easier to hook a house up to an electric heat pump. Although this is easier for the home builder, it is not always more economical. Depending on supply and demand, heating oil can actually be cheaper or more expensive than the cost of electricity, which is still very fossil fuel dependent.
According to the EIA, the northeastern United States uses 82% of all heating oil that is consumed in the United States. The American south burns about 10% of the supply and the rest is used in the west and midwest.
The Future of Heating Oil
The use of heating oil is pretty steady. It is not growing or shrinking in use. People who use the oil product swear by it and would rather use it than any other heating method. Some people say it’s just easier to fill up their tank at the start of winter and be done with it.