Conserving Home Heating Oil

One of our biggest goals for this winter was to cut back on the amount of home heating oil that we used.  I just went back through my records and found some interesting progress.


In winter 2007-2008, we got our oil tank filled four times:

  • November 23
  • December 28
  • January 23
  • March 6

We got the tank filled again in May, and that oil lasted us throughout the summer, fall, and into December of 2008.

In winter 2008-2009, we’ve only had our tank filled twice:

  • December 13
  • February 20

We’ve basically cut our home heating oil consumption in half from last winter to this winter.  When we factor in the drop in the cost of oil, it’s a savings of over $1700! 

How did we do it? We froze our buns off!  We lowered the thermostat in our house to 55 degrees, and we supplemented with wood in our woodstove, which helped us bring the temperature up to 60-65 degrees on most days.  We’ve definitely adjusted to the cooler temperature, but we also bundle up at home.  I’ve worn my warm sweatshirt over my clothes almost every day, and I’ve doubled up on socks.  If we’re sitting on the couch, it’s always under blankets. 

Ed and I are proud that we conserved so much oil, both for our bank account and for the environment.  However, almost all of the guests at our house complained that it’s too cold, and there were many times that we exlaimed we were sick of winter and tired of being cold.

We hope that by next year we’ll be able to get a new wood-burning furnace that will heat our home more efficiently than our wood stove, but I’m not sure if that’s a realistic goal for next year.  The bonus would be that it would heat our hot water, too, so we would save even more oil.  We’d also be able to bank the fire before we go to sleep or leave for work, which would keep our house warmer.

Have you been trying to conserve fuel this winter? How’s it going?


Filed under Home, Sustainable Living

10 responses to “Conserving Home Heating Oil

  1. We have a combination wood/oil furnace and we much prefer to burn wood to heat our house and our domestic hot water, as long as it’s cold enough outside! In the summer, we really can’t use wood to heat our water because it also heats the house when you don’t need it, but it saves significantly on oil costs and use throughout the winter.

    Also, we have seen a pretty dramatic drop in oil prices this winter, so your bottom line may reflect that as well. But, I know that visitors to your lovely home will attest that you do, indeed, “freeze your buns off” there!

    BTW, how are the “Snuggies” working?


  2. I actually haven’t tried to conserve fuel this winter. We had a baby in August, so this wasn’t the winter to freeze our buns. But your post reminds me of my childhood. We had only wood heat in our home, and so wood fires always feel nostalgic and homey to me. Plus I relate to wearing lots of layers and using blankets indoors. It’s not quite the same as the programmable thermostat I have these days. 😉

  3. We just recieved our monthly energy bill today. We’re on budget billing, both natural gas and electricity on the same bill. It’s well into March after a very cold winter, and we’re still “ahead” $9.07! That never happens!. We have a programable thermostat and keep the house 68 during the day and 60 at night. Last year we added more attic insulation, but I think we’ve just been much more conservative on electricity this past year, as well as reaping the benefits of new windows, installed at the end of last season. We’ve been paying $179.00/mo. for gas and electric for a 2300 square foot house with three people living in it. I’m pretty pleased, though, of course, the goal is still to keep reducing as much as possible.

  4. Rob

    I am, doing fine this winter budget wise on electricity, which is my home heat and water heating- I did buy two programmable thermostats, one in the living room and one for the dining room/ kitchen making in effect “zone heating”. My power bills have dropped considerably. I have also been keeping the house colder- 55 whne I am gone or sleeping- 65 when I am here. I also have an electric fireplace- phony I know but it does help to keep it warm when I sit in the living room. AM thinking about a wood stove or a pellet stove though. BTW it is snowing tonight here in western washington!

  5. Rob

    PS- I should have said my power bills dropped considerably, keeping in mind I added an addition ( the living room) last year- when construction was going on I had two space heater heating the living room- pretty much ran all day and night!

  6. Our heating plans for the winter didn’t work out like we’d hoped. We’ve had one problem after another with our corn stove. There are only about 5 parts that can break but by the time we went through all of them, plus dealt with some less than clean corn, we’ve only been enjoying the corn heat for about a month. The rest of the winter we had to heat with our fuel oil furnace. We spent a lot of money this year compared with last year when our furnace rarely ever kicked on. It was a really bummer to our budget and our efforts and conservation. The good news is that Brian is now practically a professional at repairing the stove so we should have relatively smooth sailing from now on. We also learned which elevators don’t clean their corn very good.

    I’m glad you are enjoying your wood heat. I agree that an outdoor wood furnace would be ideal. We would love to have one but just couldn’t make the investment right now.

  7. It’s a struggle to reduce our consumption… but I think making the decision and working on it is a great start.

    Amber- I totally understand why you have more important things to worry about this winter!!!

    Jena- We’d actually like to get an indoor wood furnace. That way, we can run into the basement to load wood instead of going outside in the cold.

  8. aja

    Living in an old, no insulation carriage house with gas heating has been rough. The worst part is previous tenants took out the fireplace. We only heat the upstairs and we basically turn the heat way down at night, but our bills went way up when my guy moved his office into the house.

    But we layer and layer. I look crazy with my Elmer Fudd hat, 2 sweaters and big socks, but oh well 🙂

  9. We did pretty much the same thing- we installed a woodstove, filled up on oil in July (terrible timing!!!!) and lowered the thermostat to 55. We just got another fill up in late January! This saved lots of money and we didn’t need to depend on oil nearly as much as in past years.

  10. Peter McMillin

    We live in Connecticut and use a wood stove to help with the oil bill. We also used to shop around and buy oil with cash. This saved us a lot of money. The website has all the dealers.

    Good Luck,


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