Heating Fuel Prices Slightly Lower as Crude Oil Prices Slide Further

November 25, 2015

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, November 23, 2015, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $2.00 per gallon, down five cents over the last two weeks. Average kerosene and propane prices declined slightly or remained steady; the statewide average price of k-1 dropped three cents, to $2.58 a gallon, while propane prices, statewide, remained almost the same, rising only one cent to $2.19 a gallon. These are some of the lowest heating fuel prices Maine has experienced at this time of year. Heating oil prices are the lowest since 2005, and kerosene and propane prices are now lower than any time since 2009-2010, when the Energy Office first began tracking prices of these fuels (see charts below).

U.S. crude has plummeted from a $107 closing high in New York during June 2014 to just above $40 a barrel now. The Canadian heavy-oil benchmark is trading at about $15 less than that http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-18/opec-threatened-by-u-s-shale-hits-canada-harder-in-price-fight . Brent crude, the European price benchmark, is currently trading just above $45 a barrel. These low prices have dramatically changed the bottom line of many North American shale oil producers, as well as the economies of smaller OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) nations. However, as Bloomberg reports, Saudi Arabia remains undeterred in its quest to squeeze out higher cost producers and maintain its market share http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-24/opec-seen-holding-the-line-as-40-oil-looms-over-vienna-meeting . This will likely cause crude prices to remain low, and therefore, keep downward pressure on heating fuel prices.

Using this week’s average heating oil price ($2.00), and converting to a common heating unit value (million Btu), the price of fuel oil is $14.42. This compares with an equivalent heating unit value for natural gas of $14.94 (at $1.49/therm); propane, $23.98 (at $2.19/gallon); kerosene $19.11 (at $2.58/gallon); wood pellets, $15.39 (at $254/ton); cord wood, $11.36 (at $250/cord) and electricity (electric baseboard), $38.10 to $55.69 (at 13-19 cents per kwh).

However, fuel-only prices are only part of the calculation when determining which fuel will save you more this heating season. The type of heating system, as well as its efficiency, needs to be factored into the estimate. 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 . Efficiency Maine also has a calculator on its website that can help consumers evaluate their heating options http://www.efficiencymaine.com/at-home/home-energy-savings-program/heating-cost-comparison/

As of November 23, 2015


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

2.00

1.95

2.07

2.01

1.91

2.17

High

2.34

2.30

2.25

2.34

2.10

2.25

Low

1.66

1.66

1.75

1.66

1.66

2.15

Kerosene

2.58

2.70

2.53

2.54

2.51

2.55

Propane

2.19

2.16

2.12

2.16

2.26

2.37

The price for heating oil is a statewide average; 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 ($2.34) was found in one region in the state, and the lowest heating oil price ($1.66) 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.

Download Release (PDF)

For Immediate Release

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