How Has COVID Impacts How Much Fuel you Burn

What School and Home can do to your Fuel Usage

COVID-19 and the pandemic have upended our entire world, from how we work, how we interact with friends and family, simply how we go about our day to day lives. For most of us, nothing about 2020 was normal, but our home life was probably impacted the most.

During the Spring most of the country shut down in Massachusetts we had several months stay at home order, schools closed and shifted to remote learning, and workplaces also shifted to a remote environment where possible. From a home heating perspective, that meant that people were home during the day, wherein years past they wouldn’t have. For many homeowners when they leave for work or school, they turn down the heat in their home, if no one is home, why heat an empty home? This is usually accomplished by manually setting the thermostat, a preprogrammed schedule, or a smart thermostat that acts based on your phone’s GPS. When you are staying home to work or school instead of leaving, two out of three of those triggers wouldn’t happen, manually setting the thermostat and the smart thermostat. After a few days of being cold during the afternoon, you would probably head over to the thermostat to adjust the schedule. The stay-at-home orders happened at a very ideal time, for these to have a little real-world effect on your home heating.

The stay at home orders happened in March and April, right as the temperature outside started to head upwards and your home naturally started to heat less. While you might have noticed an increase in usage during March while you were home during the day, by April your energy usage in terms of oil or propane probably started to level off. By May you probably weren’t burning any more fuel than you would have in a none pandemic year.

Now though as we head into the colder months and may have shifted to a permanent work or school from home situation, you will more than likely notice you are burning more fuel than you would have during a non-pandemic year. This can have huge negative effects on automatic delivery schedules and will require a more vigilant watch on your tank gauge for will-call customers. Automatic delivery schedules are well automatic, they are based on your yearly usage over several years, how many people are in the home, how old the home is, and the average temperature over several years. If any of these factors change they affect how often you’ll need a delivery. This includes renovations to your home, like new insulation or siding, making your home more energy-efficient. Or an addition requiring more heat to be produced to heat this new area of the home. The addition of a new person in the home or someone being home when they normally wouldn’t be home can have a huge impact on how much fuel you’re burning. If, for years, your automatic delivery schedule was based on 2 people being actively home for 8 hours a day and away for 8 with the remainder of the time at home associated with sleeping when many of us reduce the heat. Then it changes to 16 hours of being home and in need of a comfortable home you’re going to use a lot more fuel to heat your home.

Your oil or propane company simply won’t know that unless you tell them if you don’t inform them of any changes in your home you could find yourself running out of fuel before your next delivery. Your oil or propane company’s system is going to schedule your delivery based on the factors it knows, but your usage could require a delivery 5 days prior. This could just result in a larger than usual delivery, but in extreme cases or when there is extremely cold weather, this could mean you completely run out of fuel. Which could lead to damage to your home from frozen pipes or additional service costs for prime your heating system or re-light pilot lights.

Whenever something changes in your home, it is important to inform your heating company so they can adjust your automatic delivery factors.