How Long Will My Fuel Last Between Fill-ups?

home fuel use massachusettsOne question we get a lot here at FSi is, “how long will the fuel in my tank last between fill-ups?”

It’s not an easy question to answer, because there are a number of factors involved – some that we know with certainty and others that we do not. Some of the major contributors to your home’s fuel use include:

  • The size of your home
  • The length of the cold season
  • How cold it gets in the area
  • How insulated your home is
  • What materials your home is made from
  • How high you set your thermostat
  • The number of appliances run by your fuel source
  • The number of people living in your home

One other critical factor is the type of heating system you have, and what condition it’s in. A newer, more efficient heating system will burn less fuel per hour than an old one (all other things being equal), so if you find yourself using what you think is too much heating oil or propane, you may want to consider a heating system upgrade. A brand-new furnace or boiler can run as much as 30 percent more efficiently than an older one – enough to cover the cost of replacement in just a few years.

If you’re not ready to replace your heating system, you can keep your current one running efficiently by giving it routine heating maintenance. Scheduling a professional to inspect your heating system and give it any service it needs can lengthen its lifespan and help it use less fuel.

Estimates For Fuel Use

Uncertainties aside, there are some rules of thumb that will give you a rough idea of how much fuel you should be expected to use during winter. Here are some estimates for heating oil and propane.

Heating oil

For a modest-sized house (2,500 to 3,000 square feet) in the Greater Springfield, MA area, you should expect to burn about five to eight gallons or more of heating oil per day – a little more than one gallon per hour with the heating system running intermittently throughout the day. If you have a 275-gallon tank – which typically holds about 230 gallons of fuel (the rest is needed for air) – a full tank should last a little more than a month.
Of course, as you can see from the list above, that number is a rough estimate: every home is different and uses different amounts of heating oil every day during the cold months.


With propane, things get a little more complicated if you are running multiple appliances rather than a simple central heating system. To estimate how often you will need a propane delivery, you will need to know four things:

  • The size of your propane tank (typically 250 to 1000 gallons);
  • The number, types, and sizes of your propane appliances;
  • The amount of energy produced by each gallon of propane as it is burned (about 91,500 Btus per hour); and
  • How much fuel each of your appliances consumes in typical use (we will take a look at that below).

The amount of propane your appliances will use depends on factors ranging from the size and efficiency of each unit to how well it was matched to your space, installed, and maintained. But the following table should give you some idea of how much each appliance uses to do its job:

  • Pool Heater – 425,000 BTU (~ 4 gallons) /hour
  • HVAC Furnace – 100,000 to 200,000 BTU (~1 to 2 gallons)/hour
  • Fireplace with ceramic logs – 26,000 BTU/hour (1 gallon / 3 hours)
  • Gas cooktop/range – 65,000 BTU/hour (5 to 10 gallons / month)
  • Tankless water heater – 40,000 BTU/hour (~1.5 gallons / day)
  • Gas clothes dryer – 35,000 BTU/hr (< 1 gallon/ day)

If you want a better idea of how much propane your home might use – and how quickly – contact us today.

Looking for reliable heating oil and propane deliveries in western MA? Join the FSi family of customers. Contact us today to learn more!