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On Automatic Delivery? How does my oil company know I need oil?

Date: January 16, 2017

Are you on automatic delivery with your oil company? Have you ever asked yourself “how does my oil company know I need oil”? It is really quite simple.

Any reputable oil company will request a visit to your home as part of their account set-up process. During this visit, the company’s representative gathers information related to the specifics of your heating system, size of your oil tank, where your oil fill is located, etc.. Moreover, the representative notes the size of your home, type of heat (warm air, forced hot water or steam), size of the nozzle-rated in gallons per hour that your oil burner is firing. This information is entered into your account profile. Not only does this information help the dealer serve you better going forward but it is very important in helping the dealer assign an appropriate K-factor to your account/home.

Ah ha..what you ask is a K-Factor? A home’s K-factor represents the number of gallons of fuel the home burns per heating degree day. Heating degree day…what is a heating degree day? Heating degree days are determined by subtracting the low temperature of the given day from the high temperature of the given day. That number is then divided by 2. For example, let’s say the high temperature for the day is 40 degrees while the low temperature is 15 degrees. The average temperature is (40 minus 15) divided by 2 or 25 degrees. The final step to determine the number of heating degree days for this given day is to subtract the average temperature from 65. 65-25 = 40 heating degree days. Oil dealers typically subscribe to a service that tracks daily temperatures as their source for daily heating degree days.

Each morning the dealer adds the prior day’s number of heating degree days to the season total to date. This process is referred to as accumulating or accruing heating degree days. It is very important as it relates back to K-factor. Remember, earlier we learned a home’s K-factor represents the number of gallons of fuel the home burns per heating degree day. For example, say a home with a K-factor of 6.0 burns 150 gallons of fuel every 1,000 accumulated heating degree days. Degree days between deliveries are known as elapsed heating degree days. click here to view a graph and chart detailing monthly temperature and heating degree days at Boston’s Logan International Airport. The dealer’s computer system contains software that uses K-factor and heating degree day information to automatically generate delivery tickets for customers.

It all makes sense. Cold days are days with a large number of heating degree days. When temperatures are very cold homes burn more oil than during mild temperatures. Heating degree days accumulate quickly and your oil dealer makes deliveries to your home more often. This is how your oil dealer knows the answer to your question “how does my oil company know I need oil”.

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