History of Oil Heat

Who would have thought that the petroleum, or “rock oil” the Native Americans used for medicinal purposes could become the vital fuel that it is today!
The production of oil is responsible for a significant percentage of the world economy, and its industrial usage is so vast that it affects all of us. Ensuring the comfort of American homes, there are an estimated 9,193 retail heating oil businesses in the United States, employing 99,811 people, with sales exceeding $16 billion.  Most importantly, millions of families depend on fuel oil every day of the year to keep their homes and families as comfortable as possible. Oil heat technology is constantly striving to deliver this comfort in an economical and earth-friendly way.

Did you know…
In 1883, the most prolific oil field in Pennsylvania, the Bradford Oil Field, produced an incredible 83% of the U.S.A.’s total oil output. Today, Pennsylvania still produces oil. According to the Department of Energy, in 2001, Pennsylvania produced 1.6 million barrels of oil, and its proved reserves were 10 million barrels, ranking Pennsylvania 23rd in the nation in this category, and accounting for less than 1% of U.S. crude oil reserves.

About Oil

For eons, people have understood the benefits of petroleum-based products. Whether used for building, preserving, heat, light or medicine, petroleum has played a significant role in furthering civilization and industry. It is said that as early as 3000 BC, Mesopotamians used petroleum — literally, “rock oil” — in architectural adhesives, ship caulks, medicines, and roads.
The earliest oil wells were drilled in China circa the 4th century. The Chinese burned oil to evaporate brine and produce salt. They no doubt used this extracted oil for lamps and probably, to a certain extent, to heat themselves and their dwellings. By the 10th century, extensive bamboo pipelines connected oil wells with salt springs.
In early 17th-century America, Native Americans routinely collected oil from pools that had formed on the surface. Using crude oil for fuel and medicinal purposes, the Native Americans may have also dug underground to reach fuel deposits.
During the excavation of salt mines in the 18th century, miners often found oil. Although it wasn’t what they were looking for, a few creative individuals realized the fuel’s value. In addition to being used as a lubricant and to cure ailments, crude oil led to a major breakthrough in the 1840s, when Canadian geologist Abraham Gesner discovered that kerosene could be distilled from coal or oil and used for lamp lighting.
The oil industry was now taking shape. In 1859, a retired railroad conductor named Edwin Drake drilled a well near Titusville, Pennsylvania. The well proved a success, and other prospectors drilled wells in the area. The industry was thriving by the 1860s, and soon river barges and railroads were transporting oil throughout the region. The first successful oil pipeline was constructed in 1865, and went from Pithole, Pennsylvania to Miller Farm on Oil Creek about five miles away. Just ten years later a 60-mile pipeline from the oil region to Pittsburgh was in operation.
By the 1880s, oil exploration had traveled to Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. America finally struck its first “gusher” in 1901, at the Spindletop field in eastern Texas. At the turn of the century, Texas, California and Oklahoma were the top oil-producing states in the nation.

The Oil Industry Travels the Globe

Following America’s oil boom, countries all over the world began production. In 1860, Italy became a producer, followed by Canada, Poland, Russia, Venezuela, India, Mexico and many others. Oil was discovered in Iran in 1908. Over the next thirty years it was determined that the Persian Gulf territories held a significant amount of oil.

Oil Heat and Home Heating

Before Oil heat made the lives of millions warm and cozy, homes were heated with coal that was shoveled into a steam boiler. When the oil burner arrived in the 1920s, it was welcomed with open (and shovel-less) arms.
Along with being cheaper than coal there were other benefits of heating oil. The large and unsightly coal bin was no longer needed, so homeowners could reclaim their space in the basement. Oil heat provided a more even heat with fewer drafts, which meant fewer health risks. Oil burners were clean — there was no soot seeping through the house to ruin clothes and furniture, and no ashes to haul away. In addition, the homeowner could control the temperature simply by touching the thermostat in the living room. Oil heat was dependable, too — the family could leave the house for weeks and return to find reliable, warm comfort.
As the decades passed, great technological strides made Oilheat more efficient, comfortable and dependable, as well as cleaner, quieter and safer. In addition, Oil heat dealers today offer a “menu” of full-service features — from convenient budget plans to comprehensive service contracts — that add more value to every drop of heating oil delivered.

1 Source: National Oilheat Research Alliance
Information in this section is quoted from oilheatamerica.com


Is oilheat expensive?

Heating oil actually costs less than it did in 1980, when adjusted for inflation, and serves about 23 million Americans in 8.6 million households.
Source: Oilheat America

Does oilheat produce as much energy as other fuel sources?

Each gallon of heating oil contains approximately 139,000 units of thermal energy (BTUs), making it an economically competitive energy source.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Heating with oil is inefficient?

Oilheating systems in use today use substantially less fuel than they did just 20 years ago. For example, an average home that used more than 1,200 gallons of heating oil in 1989 now uses only 900 gallons, or 25% less. This decrease in usage is attributable to advances in equipment efficiency and household conservation. New heating oil systems boast energy efficiency ratings from 83 to 94 percent.
Source: National Oilheat Research Alliance, America Petroleum Institute

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