Weather Remains Cold, Heating Prices Remain Stable

February 25, 2014

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, February 24, 2014, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.87 per gallon, same price as last week. The average statewide price for kerosene increased two cents from last week, to $4.32 per gallon. The average statewide price for propane (for heating customers) increased by one cent, to $3.53 per gallon. Heating fuel prices are 34 cents (heating oil), 38 cents (k-1), and 88 cents (propane) more per gallon since the heating season began in October. Last year at this time, heating oil averaged $3.83 per gallon; kerosene, $4.30, and propane, $2.82.

Prices remained fairly stable during the month of February, seeing very little movement compared to December and January. For the month of February, heating oil prices decreased two cents, starting the month at $3.89/gallon and ending the month at $3.87/gallon. Propane prices saw the least amount of movement of any month this heating season, increasing 6 cents, starting at $3.47/gallon and finishing at $3.53/gallon. Kerosene prices also remained relatively stable throughout the month, increasing only 3 cents, starting the month at $4.29/gallon, and ending at $4.32/gallon.

Last February the story was different, with heating oil, propane, and kerosene increasing by 7, 10, and 6 cents respectively. Prices were more stable this February, but that provides little consolation to Mainers who are experiencing record high prices to heat their homes during a colder winter than we have seen in recent years. In terms of heating degree days, this February was 6.6% colder than last. Overall, when using heating degree days as a measure, this winter has been 18.7% colder than last winter. The chart below shows this trend, with the last 4 days of February based on projected temperatures from the National Weather Service.

Heating Degree Days (December-February)
Month 2012-2013 2013-2014 Percent Change
December 1104 1358 +23.0%
January 1324 1424 +7.6%
February 1129 1204 +6.6%
Total 3357 3986 +18.7%

Source: National Climatic Data Center

Using this week’s average heating oil price ($3.87) and converting to a common heating unit value (million Btu), the price of fuel oil is $27.90. This compares with an equivalent heating unit value for natural gas of $15.50 (at $1.55/therm); propane, $38.65 (at $3.53/gallon); kerosene $32.00 (at $4.32/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 February 24, 2014


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

3.87

3.87

3.89

3.87

3.84

3.90

High

4.20

4.20

4.09

4.00

4.00

3.90

Low

3.60

3.60

3.79

3.70

3.60

3.90

Kerosene

4.32

4.34

4.31

4.34

4.27

4.30

Propane

3.53

3.56

3.61

3.44

3.40

3.67

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 ($4.20) was found in one region in the state, and the lowest heating oil price ($3.60) was recorded 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