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Degree Days

I hope that most of the readers are familiar with the words DEGREE DAY, but if not I will give you a quick overview of the meaning. A heating or cooling degree day is of measurement to determine how hot or cold the temperature has been over a 24-hour cycle. Whenever the temperature is below 65°F, you have what is referred to as a heating degree day. To determine the HDD, you simply take the high and low temperatures added together and divide by 2, and this will give you what is referred to as the mean temperature. Then take this mean temperature and subtract it from the base figure of 65°F and now you will have the HDD for that 24-hour period.

If you’re wondering where to get these numbers, there are many sources, such as the daily newspaper or one of the many electronic HDD devices. You may also hear the term K FACTOR, which is simply a number showing how rapidly a home owner uses their fuel, often also referred to as a burn rate.

The term “useable degree days” is simply the number of days that can lapse before the next delivery. Also keep in mind that all automatic deliveries are set with a usable reserve so as to avoid a run out and no heat call. Reserves are set based on the size of the most common tanks. Examples of reserves would be approximately as follows: 275 tank =75 gallons; 550 tank= 150 gallons; and 1000 tank= 250.

Now let’s think about the winter, or non-winter, of 2015 -2016. I have spoken with a great number of oil company owners and their biggest complaint was a poor winter for selling fuel. I can only remember about 4 cold days, and one was at -9°F and three days later it was in the 60°F range.

Every oil company owner or manager told me that they were off between 1000–1200 degree days and some said their gallonage is off 20-30%.

Let’s analyze the fall-out from this kind of winter, and who other than the oil companies were effected. The installers likely did not sell as many boilers and furnaces, the service companies did not sell as many parts and the wholesale distributors probably are left with a larger than normal amount of inventory. The reason, in my opinion, is that without the cold weather the boiler and burner run time was greatly reduced and this in turn reduced the failure rate of the boilers and parts. Just think that all this was the fallout of fewer degree days.

On a more positive note, I’m hearing from many contractors that they are getting calls for A/C a month earlier, and oil companies are already starting to push for their seasonal tune up service and the swimming pool installers are already back to work.

On a final note, I’ve always said that the two things that we can’t control is the weather and the sea!

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