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|Fuels for heating|
Heating oil consists of a mixture of petroleum-derived hydrocarbons in the 14- to 20-carbon atom range that condense between 250 and 350 °C (482 and 662 °F) during oil refining. Heating oil condenses at a lower temperature than petroleum jelly, bitumen, candle wax, and lubricating oil, but at a higher temperature than kerosene, which condenses between 160–250 °C (320–482 °F). The heavy (C20+) hydrocarbons condense between 340–400 °C (644–752 °F).
Heating oil produces 138,500 British thermal units (146,100 kJ) per US gallon and weighs 8.2 pounds per US gallon (0.95 kg/l), which is about the same heat per unit mass. Number 2 fuel oil has a flash point of 52 °C (126 °F).
Red dyes are usually added, resulting in its "red diesel" name in countries like the United Kingdom. In the U.S. the fuel oil dyed red is not taxed for highway use; the dye makes it easy to identify its use in on-road vehicles. Since 2002, Solvent Yellow 124 has been added as a "Euromarker" in the European Union.
Heating oil may be blended to create a product that burns similarly.
Heating oil is commonly delivered by tank truck to residential, commercial and municipal buildings and stored in above-ground storage tanks ("ASTs") located in the basements, garages, or outside adjacent to the building. It is sometimes stored in underground storage tanks (or "USTs") but less often than ASTs. ASTs are used for smaller installations due to the lower cost factor. Heating oil is less commonly used as an industrial fuel or for power generation.
Leaks from tanks and piping are an environmental concern. Various federal and state regulations are in place regarding the proper transportation, storage and burning of heating oil, which is classified as a hazardous material (HazMat) by federal regulators.
Heating oil is known in the United States as No. 2 heating oil. In the U.S., it must conform to ASTM standard D396. Diesel and kerosene, while often confused as being similar or identical, must conform to their own respective ASTM standards. Heating oil is widely used in United States and Canada.
The Department of Energy tracks the prices homeowners pay for home heating fuel (oil and propane). There are also a number of websites that allow home owners to compare the price per gallon they are paying with the Department of Energy data as well as other consumers in their area. Likewise the US Energy Information Administration collects heating oil price statistics and maintains historical price data for all major US markets during each heating season.
Heating oil is mostly used in the northeastern United States, with the majority of that heating oil coming from Irving Oil's refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, the largest oil refinery in Canada.
Heating oil is used sporadically for home heating around England, Scotland and Wales. As in Northern Ireland, it is the rural areas and communities that rely on oil. There are around 1.5 million people in Great Britain using oil for home heating. Great Britain has many suppliers of heating oil ranging from large companies such as BP and Bayford to the local oil supplier who will cover a very small area. Many villages may use buying groups to order heating oil at the same time, thereby accessing lower costs. Many heating oil suppliers will choose to list their prices on independent heating oil price comparison websites. These sites draw in home heating oil users and compare various local supplier prices in order to provide the lowest price available. In the UK and Northern Ireland, it is possible to search for prices by town name, county and postcode prefix.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have referred the UK oil market to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for review. The OFT has resolved to look at the structure of the market, with a view of the fairness for consumers and alternative energy options for off grid consumers such as heat pumps.
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The degree day system is based on the amount of fuel a customer has consumed between two or more deliveries and the high and low outdoor temperatures during the same period. A degree day is defined as one degree of temperature below 65 °F in the average temperature of one day. In other words, to arrive at the number of degree days in one day, the official high and low temperatures for that day must be obtained. The two figures are then averaged, and the number of units this average is below 65 °F is the number of degree days for that day. For example, if for Tuesday, November 3, the high temperature is 70 °F and the low is 54 °F, the average is found by adding 70 and 54, which equals 124, and then dividing by 2. The resultant figure is 62, and by subtracting 62 from 65, it is determined that there were three Fahrenheit degree days that day.
The K factor is the number of degree days in any given period divided by the number of gallons of fuel oil used in a given period. Multiplying K degree-days per gallon by the number of gallon of usable fuel remaining in a tank gives the number of degree-days before a delivery is needed.