Measures and Measurement

How is a heating degree day defined?

Early in the twenty-first century engineers developed the concept of heating degree days as a useful index of heating fuel requirements. They found that when the daily mean temperature is lower than 65°F (18°C), most buildings require heat to maintain a 70°F (21°C) temperature. Each degree of mean temperature below 65°F (18°C) is counted as “one heating degree day.” For every additional heating degree day, more fuel is needed to maintain a 70°F (21°C) indoor temperature. For example, a day with a mean temperature of 35°F (1.5°C) would be rated as 30 heating degree days and would require twice as much fuel as a day with a mean temperature of 50°F (10°C; 15 heating degree days). The heating degree concept has become a valuable tool for fuel companies for evaluation of fuel use rates and efficient scheduling of deliveries. Detailed daily, monthly, and seasonal totals are routinely computed for the stations of the National Weather Service.


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