How Central Heating Oil Works

During the summer months, we all wish we had central air. Did you know you can also have central heat during the winter months? With the right heating oil systems, you can easily set up heat throughout your home. Before we go into how central heating oil works, let’s review the types of oil heating systems:


Most of the North American households depend on a central furnace to provide heat for their homes. A furnace works by blowing heated air through ducts that deliver the warm air to rooms throughout the house. There are actually two types of furnaces. Atmospheric furnaces and the more modern furnaces. Atmospheric furnaces are older, and unfortunately less efficient models. Their name is derived from their venting system, where their gases go up through chimneys, and the exhaust air has to be very hot in order for the venting process to work correctly. Newer, modern minimum-efficiency furnaces are more effective. A fan pulls exhaust air through a heat exchanger attached to the furnace. The fan creates a draft, and gases go up the chimney. When heating with oil, the most efficient furnaces are newer condensing models. Less heat escapes to the outside. Instead of immediately venting hot exhaust, these furnaces cool gases first.


Boilers are another type of oil heater. While furnaces carry heat in warm air, boiler systems distribute the heat in hot water. The liquid travels through the house, providing heat through equipment like radiators or baseboards. The unused/cooled water then cycles back to the boiler for reheating at a later time. A less common oil heater is a steam boiler. After water boils, steam moves through the system, bringing heat to radiators. Steam then condenses, and the gases are vented through a sidewall or chimney.

If you’re looking for a new boiler, there’s some good news. According to MassSave, replacing your old oil boiler with a new one can increase the efficiency of your system from 78 percent or less to 86 percent or more. MassSave actually has some rebates available on new oil heating equipment. Click here to learn more.

So now how does oil central heating actually work?

Oil central heating works in a similar way as gas heating. Oil fuels the boiler, which is the source for hot water and space heating in a wet heating system.

The components of an oil central heating are basically the same as any other system. You need to install a boiler, electronic controls, the necessary piping network, radiators, and depending on the type of boiler, cold and hot water cylinders. Heating oil is normally used in a ‘wet’ heating system, where an oil-fired boiler heats water, then provides central heating via radiators and hot water through the taps in your home.

The operation of an oil-fired boiler is much the same as a gas-fired boiler. That means that the same heating and boiler problems will occur regardless of whether a gas or oil boiler is being used.

Another difference is with heating oil, you can plan and budget how much you spend before ordering oil. With gas, you don’t know how much you have used until you receive the bill in the mail.

If you have questions related to your oil heating system, contact our experts today. has successfully married the ease of using the Internet to order a necessary product - heating oil.

- Karen C. - Belchertown, MA