Monday 05 October, 2015

History of Heating Oil to Warm Homes

hot tea in bedIf you have ever been in a home warmed with heating oil, there is a depth to the warmth not found in homes that use electric or space heaters.  It is the most efficient source of heat and has a bright future to go along with its progressive heritage.  Originally marketed as a medicinal product, it wasn’t until a Pennsylvania chemist provided the needed insight to distill it and transform the energy industry as we know it.

From Wood to Oil

When our nation was first formed, fire was the way to procure heat.  It was used to keep the family out of the bitter cold and to keep warm food in bellies.  The use of oil was not a new method when it was first drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859.  There are records of it being used as early as the 4th century in China.  But for the Western World, coal was rapidly replacing wood until the internal combustion engine allowed for a more economical refinement of oil that heating oil emerged.  But it still wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that heating oil for homes began to surge and become the number one fuel source for home heating in Lynchburg, VA.

It is all about the Barrel

As long as there is crude oil, there will be heating oil.  There are 42 gallons of crude oil in a barrel and only around 20 gallons get refined into the gasoline we use to power machinery and vehicles.  Another 11 or so for diesel fuel, 4 for jet fuel and the rest gets refined into heating oil and for various petroleum based products such as crayons, tires, computers and cleaning products.  The amount is slightly flexible based on demand and the refinery that a company specializes in; however, the process is quite complex.

A refinery is essentially a factory.  It takes the crude oil and distills it.  The liquid oil is heated until it becomes a vapor and is then cooled back into liquid form in different chambers to be collected.  Now, that is the very simplest of explanations.  All the various forms are already in the highly complex makeup of crude oil.  We just separate them and then allocate the barrel in the best way possible.  This allows refineries to harvest heating oil all year long and store the distillate product until the demand picks back up in the winter.

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