Heating Fuel Prices Stabilize This Week

January 19, 2017

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, January 16, 2017, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $2.28 per gallon, up only a cent over last week. The average statewide kerosene price increased one cent as well, to $2.81 per gallon. Propane prices increased a little more this week, up three cents over last week, to $2.46 per gallon (for heating customers). Since the heating season began in October, heating fuel prices have increased 18% (heating oil), 14.6% (kerosene), and 12% (propane).

Propane use, in Maine, represents approximately 8% of the residential heating market, but many Maine households, particularly in rural areas, use propane for cooking, drying clothes, as fuel for backup generators, and to provide lighting and refrigeration for isolated camps. For these Mainers, the cost of propane can often be much higher than prices quoted on the Energy Office’s website, which pertain to heating customers. The propane industry is not as price transparent as the heating oil sector is, so the reasons behind these price differences are often not evident to consumers. To assist Maine propane customers with this more complicated market, the Energy Office has developed a primer on residential propane pricing, and it is available on the GEO website http://www.maine.gov/energy/publications_information/Propane-101-Consumers-Guide.pdf

In this publication, the Energy Office summarizes all the market forces contributing to the delivered price of propane to a Maine household, and also offers suggestions on how consumers can obtain the best value for their heating dollars.

The following table compares the prices between various heating fuels, and converts these prices to a common heating unit value (dollars per million Btu).

Comparison of Heating Fuel Prices per Million Btu*


Fuel Price (in dollars) Fuel Price (dollars per million Btu)
Cord Wood ($250/cord) $11.36
Natural Gas ($1.49/therm) $14.91
Wood Pellets ($261/ton) $15.82
Heating Oil ($2.28/gallon) $16.44
Kerosene ($2.81/gallon) $20.81
Propane ($2.46/gallon) $26.93
Electricity (baseboard) (15-18 cents/kwh) $43.94-$52.75

Fuel prices are only part of the calculation when determining which fuel will save you more money over the course of a heating season. The type of heating system, as well as its efficiency, is also an important factor in determining final costs. The Energy Office has a calculator on its web site that allows consumers to explore these fuel options further, as well as compare efficiencies of heating systems most closely matching their own system. 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 January 9, 2017


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

2.28

2.25

2.32

2.29

2.21

2.38

High

2.60

2.40

2.60

2.43

2.40

2.50

Low

2.00

2.08

2.10

2.10

2.00

2.30

Kerosene

2.81

2.84

2.80

2.80

2.75

2.84

Propane

2.46

2.45

2.50

2.38

2.39

2.63

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 found was $2.60, and the lowest heating oil price found was $2.00. Also, the statewide average price for propane is based on consumption 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.


¹ 2015 estimates for primary heating fuel used by occupied residences, American Community Survey (ACS), U.S. Census Bureau.

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For Immediate Release

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