Energy Star Oil Boilers: Increased Efficiency Means Real Savings

April 23, 2014

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, April 21, 2014, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.62 per gallon, down two cents from last week. The average statewide price for kerosene decreased two cents in the last week, to $4.09 per gallon. Propane prices are also lower; the average statewide price for propane (for heating customers) is now $3.19 per gallon, a drop of 4 cents per gallon. Last year at this time, heating oil averaged $3.50 per gallon; kerosene, $3.96, and propane, $2.75.

With the high costs of this heating season in the rear view mirror, now is a great time to think about how to cut heating costs for next season. The Governor’s Energy Office has spent the last 3 weeks highlighting different heating appliance options. This week’s topic is oil boilers.

Heating oil, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), has the highest heat content per gallon of all the common heating fuels, with around 138,000 British thermal units (Btu) per gallon. According to the United States Census Bureau, nearly 70 percent of all Mainers heat their homes with heating oil. The question remains, are all of these Mainers maximizing the amount of heat they can receive? The answer to that question is held within the efficiency of their heating oil appliance.

Heating oil appliance efficiency is measured in units called annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). AFUE measures how many British thermal units (Btu) of heat an appliance produces per 100 Btu of heating oil (1/138th of a gallon). According to the EIA, The standard heating oil appliance has an AFUE around 78. However, many of the new Energy Star certified oil boilers have an AFUE of 95, which means these appliances are nearly 100 percent efficient. If an 800-gallon heating oil customer were to switch from a boiler of average efficiency to one of the more efficient models, they could produce the same amount of heat with 143 fewer gallons. At this heating season’s average price of $3.71, this savings in oil would amount to about $530 per heating season.

For more information on Energy-Star certified heating boilers, visit: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=mostefficient.meboilers

In addition to the oil savings, replacing an old, inefficient oil boiler or furnace with one of the newer, Energy Star certified boilers, is a heating system upgrade that would qualify for a rebate from Efficiency Maine. Currently, there is a $500 rebate available for the most advanced central heating oil system. For details on Efficiency Maine’s Residential Heating Program incentives, call 866-376-2463 or visit www.efficiencymaine.com.

Using this week’s average heating oil price ($3.62) and converting to a common heating unit value (million Btu), the price of fuel oil is $26.10. This compares with an equivalent heating unit value for natural gas of $15.50 (at $1.55/therm); propane, $34.93 (at $3.19/gallon); kerosene $30.30 (at $4.19/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. The 95% efficient oil boiler described above is one example. Efficient electric heating appliances are another. For example, the cost of electricity stated above 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 April 21, 2014


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

3.62

3.57

3.64

3.65

3.58

3.70

High

3.90

3.90

3.80

3.84

3.70

3.75

Low

3.35

3.35

3.50

3.38

3.35

3.62

Kerosene

4.09

4.07

4.12

4.09

4.07

4.10

Propane

3.19

3.18

3.33

3.06

3.04

3.43

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 ($3.90) was found in one region in the state, and the lowest heating oil price ($3.35) 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.

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For Immediate Release

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