Heating Fuel Prices Rise Again as Wintery Weather Descends on the State

December 23, 2013

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, December 23, 2013, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.72 per gallon, up six cents from last week. The average statewide price for kerosene is also up six cents, to $4.12 per gallon. Propane prices are continuing their steep climb; this week’s average statewide price (for heating customers) is up another twelve cents, to $3.02 per gallon. This rapid increase in price, due to the tight supplies region-wide, is 35 cents a gallon more expensive than it was at the start of the heating season in October.

As reported last week, propane prices continue to rise as regional supplies are significantly below average and demand is high, due to our early cold temperatures and stormy weather. In addition, heating oil and kerosene prices also continue to rise, as crude oil becomes more expensive http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-23/wti-crude-declines-from-two-month-high-as-rally-seen-as-overdone.html

West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI), the North American crude oil benchmark, was trading today near $100 per barrel, when just a couple of months ago, the per barrel price was closer to $90. Crude oil price fluctuations can occur rapidly, depending on changing world conditions. For example, political uncertainty in a significant petroleum exporting country, or an improved economic forecast in a significant oil consuming country like the U.S. or China, can be enough to cause these price fluctuations. Unfortunately, this means Maine households will use a larger percentage of their income to stay warm. “As every Mainer knows, home heating costs have been unaffordable for a long time and this winter holiday season is no different,” said Woodcock. “The bottom line is that heat is going to be very expensive this year and we really need to move forward in this state to bring modern and efficient heating equipment to more Mainers.” 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 $26.82. This compares with an equivalent heating unit value for natural gas of $15.50 (at $1.55/therm); propane, $33.07 (at $3.02/gallon); wood pellets, $14.67 (at $242/ton); cord wood, $11.36 (at $250/cord) and electricity, $43.96 (at 15 cents per kwh). These fuel-only prices do not take into account the type of heating system, nor its efficiency. For example, the electricity cost is for traditional baseboard heat. Other electric heating technologies, such as heat pumps and electric thermal storage (ETS), may offer consumers energy savings. Cold climate heat pumps, a recent technological advancement, are much more efficient than baseboard electric heat, so total energy costs are lower than many other types of heating fuels. ETS offers savings by utilizing off-peak electric rates, available in many areas of the state.

The Energy Office has a calculator on its web site that allows consumers to obtain more detailed estimates of home heating costs, and the price impacts of various types of fuel, heating systems and heating appliances. Heating costs vary considerably from home to home. The home heating calculator can assist homeowners in finding the best heating option for their home, location, lifestyle, and budget http://www.maine.gov/energy/index.html

As of December 23, 2013


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

3.72

3.70

3.73

3.74

3.67

3.84

High

4.00

3.90

4.00

3.95

3.80

3.91

Low

3.53

3.55

3.55

3.53

3.53

3.80

Kerosene

4.12

4.11

4.14

4.14

4.06

4.23

Propane

3.02

3.11

3.02

2.98

2.98

2.99

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. This week, within the Energy Office sample, the highest heating oil price ($4.00) was found in one region in the state, and the lowest heating oil price ($3.53) was found in two regions. 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 generally pay a higher per gallon price. The table above provides current Maine cash prices in dollars rounded to the nearest penny.

Efficiency Maine Trust 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