Who uses heating oil?

About 6 million households in the United States use heating oil as their main space heating fuel.1 Some households also use heating oil for water heating, but in much smaller amounts than the amounts used for space heating. Some commercial and institutial buildings also use heating oil for space and water heating.

Because space heating is the primary use for heating oil, demand is highly seasonal, and it is affected by temperatures. Most heating oil use occurs during the heating season (October through March).

Heating oil is important to consumers in the Northeast

Most of the U.S. households that use heating oil are located in the Northeast.2 In 2014, about 3.6 billion gallons of heating oil were sold to residential consumers in the Northeast, equal to 88% of total U.S. residential fuel oil sales. In 2014, about 37% of total commercial sector consumption of heating oil was in the Northeast.

The number of houses with heating systems that use heating oil has declined over time because heating systems in homes that previously used heating oil are being converted to other types of systems. Most new homes use natural gas or electricity for heating.

1 U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, Table WFO1, January 2016.

2 Includes Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADD) 1A and 1B.