What's the minimum oil we need?
October 10, 2006 8:38 AM   Subscribe

What's the minimum oil will it take to keep our new apartment warm through the winter? We're in a relatively moderate climate (Pacific Northwest).

The tank is totally empty. The landlord says it's a good idea to keep it above 100 gallons at all time.

A few factors:
* We'll only be here one winter and don't want to buy more than we need.
* It's a 650 square foot apartment.
* We'll only be heating it from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. each week day when it's chilly, probably 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.
*It's very rarely all that cold out here. The average daily low temperature is in the high 30s (F) three months a year, then in the 40s five months a eyar.

I saw this thread,, but it applied to the Northeast, where people actually get cold in the winter. If we run out of oil, we'll probably just wear extra sweaters and be fine.

Again: we want to buy the least we can safetly get away with. How do we figure this out?
posted by croutonsupafreak to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
Best answer: I live in Portland, and have a forced air/oil furnace system that heats a floor about twice the size of yours. Unfortunately with out past experience it is hard to predict this because of several variables. Furnace efficiency, how well your apartment is insulated, and do you have one of those digital thermostats that you can pre-program. One place to start is to call the oil company that regularly fills your tank, or other apartment buildings that are similar to yours and find out how much oil they use in the winter... For your reference, our house is an older 1920's house with somewhat drafty windows and sub par insulation, with a basement and attic that are not heated. Last winter we went through one tank (275 gal) and went a couple weeks in march without heat while it was down. So assuming everything else is the same, but you are heating half the space, I would say 150 gal would be more than enough for you. If the tank runs out of oil a few things will happen, you'll have to wear sweaters or use space heaters if it is cold, and more "gunk" from the bottom of the tank will get into the system, and you might possibly have to prime the system if air gets into the line for next winter. This is why the landlord will tell you to keep at least 100 gal in the tank. I will also say that you should turn on the heater and make sure the furnace kicks on (you see a pilot light or feel it getting warm). If not it was probably run too low and you might need it serviced to get primed. On some systems this is an easy task, something you can do over the phone, but if it is more complicated and requires a service call, I would suggest asking the landlord to pay for it, since the previous tenants might have run it too low.

Good luck.
posted by retro88 at 10:22 AM on October 10, 2006

Maybe you could talk the landlord into filling the tank now with an agreement that you'll be sure to fill it when you leave. Then you won't have to worry about buying the right amount, going cold, or the junk at the bottom of the tank getting into the system.
posted by sulaine at 10:31 AM on October 10, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the great advice, retro 88. I think we'll go with 200 gallons, with the hope that we never have to buy any more for the rest of the time that we live here.

We tried that, sulaine, but it wasn't an option.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:28 PM on October 10, 2006

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