About Heating Oil


Every oil heating system is based on one simple principle. The heat from the burner flame produces hot water,hot air or steam which is then circulated throughout the house for heat. Without question, your oil burner is the most important part of your heating system. But contrary to popular belief, an oil burner doesn’t burn oil.

Instead it combines fuel oil from your tank with just the right amount of air and then delivers it to the point of ignition at the burner head. This burning mixture of oil and air heats the air, water or steam that’s circulated through your home.

This is an extremely safe heating method because fuel oil in its liquid state will not burn. Ignition can only be achieved after the burner has atomized the oil into a fine spray of minute oil particles. These particles are mixed with air drawn into the burner, then ignited by an electric spark generated by the burner’s transformer. Oil burners provide a steady flame which is better for your system’s efficiency.

There are three grades of heating oil, #2, #4 and #6. Homeowners burn #2 heating oil, the cleanest and most refined of these three grades. Of the different heating fuels available to heat your home, the hottest flame is created by heating oil. Since oil burns 400ยบ hotter than natural gas or propane there are many advantages to using it to warm your home. Because it’s so hot, your home will naturally heat up faster, need less fuel, maintain your desired temperature more efficiently, and provide an atmosphere where you’ll just feel more comfortable.

In principal, all central heating systems work the same whether they are fueled by oil, gas, propane, or electricity. They have three basic components that work together to keep your home warm:

1. The furnace or boiler – serves as a heat source.

2. The ductwork or radiator – circulates the heat around the house

3. The thermostat – turns system on/off and controls temperature In addition an oil heat system includes a tank (your oil supply is stored locally in a tank) and sometimes a separate water heater.


Oil burners are all constructed with the same basic design. An electric motor spins a fan and oil pump simultaneously. Air from the fan is directed into a blast tube. At the end of the tube is a nozzle spraying the oil the pump has put under high pressure. The nozzle resembles a garden hose sprayer, but is smaller and more precise. It has a flow rating ( in gallons per hour ) to size the heat output. It also has a degree angle that determines the width of the spray. A letter stamped on the nozzle identifies the cone formed by the spray as hollow or solid.

Released from the pressure at the nozzle, the oil atomizes into a fog and is ignited with an electric spark. The spark is generated by a transformer that boosts the voltage upwards of 10,000 volts or more. The spark jumps across electrodes placed in front of the nozzle and is blown into the oil spray by the blast of air. Watching the ignition is an electric eye known as a cad cell.

Current generated by the fire on the window of the cell is conducted to a burner-relay and keeps the relay engaged and the burner motor running. If the fire goes out, the burner will shut down to prevent a build up of unburned fuel and an explosive condition. The burner relay also has a transformer built in that sends a 24 volt current to the thermostat that becomes the means of signaling for heat.

Why Smart Homeowners Choose Oil Heat

Oil heat Is Clean and Environmentally Friendly

Heating oil is nontoxic, contains no carcinogens, and is biodegradable. Residential oil tanks do not present a threat to human health or the environment. A properly maintained oil tank can last for decades. Oil heat has the least environmental impact of any type of space heating and hot water fuel, attributable to it’s high efficiency and clean burning. Natural gas and propane are similarly benign, while electric, coal and wood heat are far more detrimental to air quality.

Modern Oil heat systems are among the cleanest of combustion devices. New oil burners release near zero levels of smoke and combustion discharge. Residential oil burners produce less than one-third of one percent (.003) of total particulate emissions in the U.S. each year. Emissions from residential gas burners are about the same as from equivalent size oil burners, according to government research agency studies. Neither fuel releases particulate matter of any consequence. While electric heat at the point of use has no emission at all, the power plant creating the electricity may be giving off significant emissions depending on how power is generated.

Oil Heat Is Efficient

The single most important factor in your decision about home heating is the efficiency of your equipment. Common efficiency ratings for modern oil heating systems are over 80%. New technological and design improvements on oil heating systems continue to produce increased efficiency ratings.

Heating and hot water system efficiency is a measure of the amount of usable heat extracted from the potential energy of the fuel. For example, if your heating system is evaluated at 85% efficiency, it means that 85 cents of every dollar spent for heat and hot water are consumed within the home. The balance is exhausted through your chimney or flue exhaust. It’s the combination of high efficiency and minimal exhaust of emissions are desirable traits for a home heating fuel. Oil-fired equipment has always provided these features for both heat and hot water. There are many ways to compare heating system efficiency. The most widely accepted measure is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). Using the AFUE benchmark, Oil heat gets excellent ratings – Take a look:

Efficiencies of new oil equipment range from 83% to 94%.
The average gas unit sold has an AFUE in the low 80’s, while ratings on individual gas units vary from 78% to 95%.
While the high end efficiency of some natural gas systems may look attractive, they exhibit higher water vapor in the exhaust than an Oil heat system- which can be corrosive to the heating unit.
Air to air heat pumps between 51% and 62%;
Geothermal heat pumps 76% to 82% AFUE.

Electric resistance heat has between 27% and 31% AFUE; Electric heat is inefficient because nearly 66% of the heat value of the fuel is lost in the generation and transmission.

Oil Heat Is Safe

Oil, gas, and electric heat all have commendable safety records when the equipment is installed properly and maintained regularly. However, when heating units malfunction, safety hazards can occur. Should that situation arise, Oil heat offers important safety advantages:

Heating oil is non-explosive. If a heating oil leak should occur, it is not an explosive hazard. When natural gas or propane leaks, an explosive mixture of air and fuel forms rapidly. Heating oil will not burn in a liquid state. If you were to place a lit match into a vial of heating oil, the match would be extinguished because heating oil in liquid form is well below it’s flash point of 140 degrees F, the temperature at which it begins to vaporize in order to fire inside a burner. By contrast, natural gas and propane will burst into flames when mixed with air if a match is struck in their presence.

Oil heat is one of the safest fuels ever developed. A clear, champagne-colored liquid that’s nontoxic and non-explosive. An oil heat system doesn’t “burn” oil like a kerosene lamp. Before heating oil will burn, it must be vaporized. The burner unit in an oil heat system acts like a finely tuned carburetor, turning fuel into vapor for efficient combustion in a sealed chamber. When is the last time you heard of an explosion caused by oil heat? It doesn’t happen! Compare that to the weekly disasters involving natural gas, and you can see why oil heat is the safe choice.

Oil Costs Less

It costs far less to heat your home with oil than with electricity. And oil is competitive with gas. It’s a simple fact. History shows us oil heat costs less than almost anything you’ve bought in the last decade. While postage has gone up 40%.. apples 68%.. and cereal 75%.. heating oil has gone down 28%!


We all like to be comfortable. And oil heat is the most comfortable heat of all. An oil heat system distributes the warm cozy feeling you want quickly, bringing your home to a warm toasty temperature in less time than other fuels. Which means less chill. And less money.


Oil heat can do a whole lot more than just provide efficient heating. New complete oil home comfort systems supply cooling, and keep you in hot water all day long, plus heat hot tubs and swimming pools. Today, you can expect to get the most from your home comfort system. State of the art oil systems provide heating and hot water for the same annual costs other energy sources provide only heating. That’s like getting hot water FREE!

With an oil hot water heater, your home will never run out of hot water. A hot tub heated with an oil system will be heated to over 104 degrees in less than an hour. And a hot tub heated with an oil system will stay at a comfortable, constant temperature for a very low cost.


Heating oil is always produced along with gasoline when crude oil is refined. As long as we need gasoline, heating oil will be available. In fact, increasing gasoline consumption is resulting in a surplus of heating oil – a situation helping to keep heating oil prices low.

Most of our home heating oil is produced and refined here in the United States. Domestic and friendly petroleum reserves are available well into the next century. The total known reserves in the world are actually increasing rather than declining, due to improved exploration and extraction technologies. The full tank of oil at your home represents another measure of security.


Last but never least, service. The old American competitive spirit. With oil heating, you get to choose who delivers your fuel at competitive prices. You have the choice and control. So you can decide who you want by price, service and quality. The American way.

What Can You Do?

1) Tune-up your Furnace: Make sure your system is operating at peak efficiency by having our skilled, professional technician perform a comprehensive tune-up. Call us and schedule a routine maintenance and inspection of your furnace each autumn to make sure it is in good working order. As part of our tune-up we will change your filter so that the boiler will work less hard, use less energy and last longer.

2) If your boiler system is old, you might consider updating it. New furnaces are far more efficient than ever before which means that more of the fuel used by the furnace gets upstairs as heat. Consider upgrading your burner, furnace or boiler to a new high efficiency model. You’ll save moneyimmediately and for years to come.

3) Ask us to install a programmable thermostat to reduce your fuel consumption.

4) Check your home for drafts which rob it of heat.

5) Most importantly, remember the value of quality service. When temperatures are frigid, response and quality of service are of utmost importance. At Rockingham Oil we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality service possible when you need it most.

We want your business and we’ll prove it!

Call us NOW at
1-866-348-FUEL (3835) or
Derry: 603-434-9224
Pelham: 603-635-9955