Heating Fuel Prices Rise as ‘Real’ Maine Winter Descends

February 16, 2017

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $2.30 per gallon, up two cents from two weeks ago. The average statewide kerosene price increased three cents over the last two weeks, and is now $2.83 per gallon. Propane prices have continued to increase more than heating oil or k-1; the average statewide price for propane (for heating customers) is up another 6 cents, currently at $2.59 per gallon.

Heating fuel prices are up over last year’s record lows, and our recent wintry weather would indicate that Mainers will have higher heating bills this year – but how much? Heating degree days (HDD) is a quantitative index that reflects demand for energy to heat houses and businesses¹. And, as the chart below illustrates, Mainers are experiencing between 6 and 8 percent higher heating demand than last year, but still 6-13% lower than an average winter².

Heating Degree Days (HDD) in Maine, July 2016 through February 11, 2107³

City HDD 7-1-16 through 2-11-17 Deviation from 30 year normal (hdd) Deviation from 30 year normal (percent) Deviation from last year (hdd) Deviation from last year (percent)
Augusta 4215 -414 -9 250 +6
Bangor 4520 -312 -6 303 +7
Caribou 5299 -762 -13 369 +7
Houlton 5251 -630 -11 386 +8
Portland 3952 -583 -13 305 +8

This means that Mainers will be spending more to heat their homes than last year (higher prices and higher consumption compared to last year’s mild winter), but will still be spending less than during an average winter, by approximately $3404. In 2015-16, with HDD averaging 12-20% below the 30 year normal, and heating oil prices of $1.86 per gallon, the average Maine household paid approximately $1,339-$1,473 in heating expenses. This year, with HDD averaging 6-13% below the 30 year normal, and heating oil prices of $2.14 per gallon, the average Maine household will pay more, between $1,676 and $1,810, to stay warm.

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 Btu5

Fuel Price (in dollars) Fuel Price (dollars per million Btu)
Cord Wood ($250/cord) $11.36
Natural Gas ($1.53/therm) $15.27
Wood Pellets ($261/ton) $15.82
Heating Oil ($2.30/gallon) $16.58
Kerosene ($2.83/gallon) $20.96
Propane ($2.59/gallon) $28.36
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 February 14, 2017


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

2.30

2.28

2.36

2.28

2.24

2.36

High

2.60

2.55

2.60

2.55

2.55

2.43

Low

2.00

2.07

2.10

2.08

2.00

2.35

Kerosene

2.83

2.88

2.87

2.80

2.77

2.84

Propane

2.59

2.61

2.64

2.49

2.51

2.72

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 http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysismonitoring/cdus/degreedays/ddayexp.shtml
² Based on NOAA data from 1981-2010
³ http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysismonitoring/cdus/degreedays/wctyhddy.txt
4 Assumes: 30 year avg. heating oil consumption of 900 gallons, and heating oil prices of $1.86/gal (2015-16) and $2.14/gal (2016-17). Actual consumption in both seasons estimated using HDD deviation from 30 year normal.
5 Does not factor in the efficiency of the heating system

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For Immediate Release

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