Myths – and Facts – about Heating Oil

Facts vs. Myths

While Americans have been using oil heat to keep warm for a century, it remains a misunderstood fuel. Here are a few of the more common myths about oil heat, along with the facts that bust them.

Myth 1: Oil heating has a negative impact on the environment.

Fact: Oil heating is actually one of the cleanest options for heating your home. Fuel oil burns more than 90 percent cleaner than it did 40 years ago, with far fewer emissions (it’s virtually soot free – one reason oil heat emissions aren’t even regulated by the federal Clean Air Act). It’s also biodegradable.

Myth 2: Oil heat is a dangerous.

Fact: Oil heat is actually one of the safest fuels around. Unlike natural gas or gasoline, heating oil is not highly flammable at room temperature. In fact, if you dropped a lit match into a pool of heating oil, it would go out – just as if you had dropped it in water. To burn, heating oil must first be heated to a temperature of 140 degrees and then vaporized. Heating oil also poses an extremely low risk of carbon monoxide leaks.

Myth 3: Oil heat is inefficient.

Fact: A gallon of heating oil generates 139,000 British thermal units (BTUs), which means heating oil generates more energy than any other heating fuel. That’s why New Jersey homeowners need less heating oil than the equivalent gallons of propane or therms of natural gas.

Myth 4: Heating with oil is expensive.

Fact: Fuel oil for home heating is cheaper now than it was in 1980 if you adjust the cost for inflation. Although the oil market is notoriously volatile, heating oil remains an affordable and efficient way to keep your home and business warm.

Myth 5: Heating oil supplies are running out.

Fact: New oil deposits are being discovered every day – while there is a theoretical limit to how much oil we can discover, in reality there is no end in sight.

Myth 6: America gets most of its heating oil from the Middle East.

Fact: The largest supplier of heating oil to the US – other than itself (38 percent of US supply is produced domestically) is Canada, and by a significant margin. In fact, the US gets more oil from our neighbors to the north than from all Middle Eastern countries combined.