Domestic heating oil customers warming up against
April 15, 2019

Have you ever wondered how much heating oil you use when turning your heating on for a few hours at a time?

Or during that nightmare scenario, when the kids are on holiday and they crank up the thermostat, so you come home to a house like a sauna!

Online heating oil calculators are available and can be helpful, but they’re not always accurate. So, we thought we’d give you a better way of working it out.


Let’s start with a science lesson

To calculate how much heating oil you’re actually using we first need a science lesson, starting with energy.

Energy is measured in Watts, named after Scottish scientist and engineer, James Watt. However, the measurement more commonly seen is kilowatts (kW) – the equivalent to 1000 watts – as it takes a lot of watts to heat a home.

To breakdown energy usage, you need to know how long the heating is on for in hours. Therefore, total energy use is measured in kilowatt hours, or kWh.

From our records, we know the average UK household using heating oil as their primary source of energy expends around 26,000 kWh each year on heating.

Following it so far? Excellent, we’ll move on!


Energy value of Kerosene

Next, we need to establish how much energy there is in kerosene. A quick Google search will tell you that one litre of kerosene contains circa 10.35 kWh of energy.

Therefore, to calculate the volume of heating oil an average UK home uses in a year, we simply divide the total energy expenditure (in this example 26,000 kWh), by the amount of energy in one litre of kerosene; 10.35 kWh.

This equals 2,512 litres of heating oil, or 2 – 3 tanks; about what we would expect to deliver to an average-sized property in a year.


Heating oil usage calculator

Next, we need to consider seasonality, because even the coldest person doesn’t have their heating on all year round.

So, let’s say for argument’s sake the average UK household has their heating on for six months of the year, six hours each day. Six months is roughly the equivalent of 180 days, so for ease of calculation, we’ll go with that.

Dividing 26,000 by 180 gives us the amount of energy used by your home every day it is on. This equals 144.44 kWh.

Dividing this by the energy value of kerosene (are you keeping up?) gives us a daily use, which in this case is just under 14 litres.

Working out how much you use per hour then becomes easy. Simply divide 14 (litres used per day) by 6 (hours the heating is on per day) to get 2.33 litres.


Heating oil use per hour

From here, you can calculate how much heating oil you use every time you turn the heating on.

If, for example, you put the heating on for four hours on a chilly night, you’ll use approximately (2.33 x 4) 9.33 litres of heating oil.

And that nightmare scenario; the kids are off school and have the heating on all day?

Well, if we consider all day to be 15 hours, you would burn roughly 35 litres of heating oil – a whopping amount.


Don’t be caught short

Whereas this formula is a great rule of thumb for calculating heating oil usage, do remember it is a rough guide only. 

The precise volume will be affected by a number of factors such as external temperature, the age of the property, how well it is insulated and how efficient the system is.

That said, it is more accurate than some of the online heating oil calculators we have seen.

So, if you’ve had your fuel on a lot over winter, burning 2.33 litres per hour means you might be lower than you think.

If so, our advice would be to top up sooner rather than later.

After all, you don’t want to be caught short in the event of a cold snap in April, May or even June.


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