Winter’s 10 Percent Colder Temperatures Translating into Higher Total Home Heating Costs

January 22, 2013

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Tuesday, January 22, 2013, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.72 per gallon, up one cent from last week’s price survey. The average kerosene price increased one cent as well, to $4.15 per gallon. Propane prices were unchanged from last week, holding at an average of $2.72 per gallon. Propane prices continue to be much lower than last year.

Maine’s heavy reliance on oil for heating translates into high overall home heating costs for most Maine households. However, temperature also affects total costs. Temperature differences are measured using ‘heating degree days’, or HDD. Heating degree days are the extent to which the outside temperature differs from a base level (when heating isn’t needed, e.g., 65 degrees). So, the colder the day, the higher the HDD, and, the more fuel needed to maintain a home’s temperature. Last heating season’s milder temperatures moderated costs somewhat, but this heating season is, thus far, more ‘seasonably cold’ than last year. HDD for the three month period from October to December 2012 was 10% higher than the same period in 2011. More information on a month by month basis, all the way back to 1895, can be found at: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/time-series/index.php?parameter=hdd&month=12&year=2012&filter=1&state=17&div=0

More heating degree days mean higher heating costs for Maine households.

Using this week’s average heating oil price ($3.72) and converting to a common heating unit value (million Btu), the price of fuel oil is at $26.82. This compares with an equivalent heating unit value for natural gas of $17.00 (at $1.70/therm); propane, $29.78 (at $2.72/gallon); wood pellets, $14.48 (at $239/ton); cord wood, $10.50 (at $210/cord) and electricity, $43.96 (at 15 cents per kwh). The electricity cost is for traditional baseboard heat. Electric heat pumps, a recent technological advancement, are much more efficient, so total energy costs are lower than oil, kerosene, or propane.

The GEO has a calculator on its web site that allows consumers to estimate home heating costs and price impacts of various energy sources. See http://www.maine.gov/energy/index.html

As of January 22, 2013


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

3.72

3.67

3.76

3.76

3.64

3.84

High

4.30

3.80

3.95

4.30

3.80

3.85

Low

3.50

3.53

3.60

3.53

3.50

3.80

Kerosene

4.15

4.14

4.22

4.13

4.09

4.24

  Propane

2.72

 

 

 

 

 

It is important to note that the price for heating oil is a statewide average, and that prices in a given geographic region of the state may be considerably higher or lower than this average. Within the Energy Office sample, the lowest actual heating oil price of $3.50 per gallon was recorded in only one region of the state. The highest price of $4.30 per gallon was also reported in only one region. Also, the statewide average price for propane is based on a use of at least 900 gallons a year. Households using propane just for cooking or hot water may pay a higher per gallon price. The table above provides current Maine cash prices in dollars rounded to the nearest penny.

Efficiency Maine links Maine homeowners and businesses with qualified, certified contractors who provide access to energy improvement options. For program details call 866-376-2463 or visit www.efficiencymaine.com.

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For Immediate Release

Contact:
Lisa Smith
(207) 624-7445
lisa.j.smith@maine.gov