Some homes in the United States are heated with home heating oil. There are approximately 8 million homes in the nation that use this form of heating, and most of them are older homes. Heating oil is delivered to the house where it is usually stored in a tank in the back yard or elsewhere on the property. Heating oil is the least desirable form of heat for homes due to the expense of this type of heating. According to the Energy Department, the average home that uses oil for heating spends over $2,000 each year to heat their home. Natural gas is the least expensive form of heating energy for homes, and it costs an average of only just over $700 each year to heat a home with it. Electricity is another popular type of heat, and it costs around $1,000 each year to heat a home with this form of energy.
The popularity of heating oil rose after World War II when it was used to replace coal that once heated homes. Natural gas and electric are used more in newer homes, while those that use home heating oil equal about seven percent of American homes. There are some remote areas in the mountains and in other distant areas where heating oil is still commonly used. This is because there are no natural gas lines or electric access that can be used to heat homes. Many homes and apartment buildings in the Northeastern part of the U.S still use home heating oil. It is also commonly used in older buildings in New York City.
Oil is a much dirtier form of a heating source than natural gas or electric. It pollutes the air and does not have the advantages of gas or electric, which are much cleaner fuels. Heating a home with oil is considered to be safe if proper precautions are taken with the home heating oil tank. Filter protectors are recommended to keep ice and snow from damaging the oil tank, which could result in leakage. Heating oil companies sell these and other precautionary equipment to keep home heating oil tanks safe.
Home owners should inspect their oil tank each year to look for signs of rust, wear, or damage. If any of these are found, the heating oil company should be notified. Another important part of the tank that should be inspected is the base underneath the tank. If it becomes cracked or uneven, it should be repaired. Oil leaks are dangerous to the environment and can cause the value of a home to decline. The fuel line must have a sleeve over it to protect it from damage. Lines may be on the ground or buried, but either way, they should have a sleeve on them for protection to guard against oil leakage.
Many heating professionals recommend that homeowners use a heating oil additive to keep sludge in the tank from forming. If there is a substantial amount of sludge, it can clog pipes and filters and cause the heating mechanism to not work properly. Oil tank service technicians are typically the workers who go to homes to service oil storage tanks. If there is a problem with sludge, the technician may blow the oil lines out to remove the clogs caused by sludge. When oil flow is improved, heat in the home is usually improved. Unfortunately, the only way to completely remove the sludge from an oil tank is to replace the tank with a new one.
Homes that use home heating oil sometimes have problems with the outdoor tank and getting the heating oil into their furnace. Natural gas or electric are preferred by most people because these problems do not exist with these forms of home heating.