Maine Still Most Heating Oil Dependent State in the U.S.

March 15, 2017

Augusta, Maine – The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, March 13, 2017, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $2.26 per gallon, down four cents from a few weeks ago. The average statewide kerosene price, now at $2.79 a gallon, followed the same trend, also down four cents. The average statewide propane price, peaking at $2.60 in late February, has since decreased five cents a gallon, and this week is now $2.55 per gallon.

Over the last ten years or so, many Mainers have taken measures to reduce their heating oil consumption, from adding energy efficiency measures such as insulation and air sealing, to replacing their old, inefficient heating systems with more efficient ones. In addition, some households have switched their primary fuel source from oil to another fuel, such as wood & wood pellet systems, propane, natural gas, and cold climate heat pumps. As a result, the number of households relying on heating oil as their primary fuel source has dropped from a high of 75.6% in 2009 to 64.9% in 2015¹. However, as the chart below illustrates, Maine is still the most heating oil dependent state (for home heating) in the country.

Heating Oil Consumption per Capita 2015 graph

This means Mainers remain more vulnerable to volatile oil prices than other states, as we depend on heating oil for both heating and transportation. 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 Btu²

Fuel Price (in dollars) Fuel Price (dollars per million Btu)
Cord Wood ($250/cord) $11.36
Natural Gas ($1.46/therm) $14.63
Wood Pellets ($261/ton) $15.82
Heating Oil ($2.26/gallon) $16.30
Kerosene ($2.79/gallon) $20.67
Propane ($2.55/gallon) $27.92
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/athome/home-energy-savings-program/heating-cost-comparison/

As of March 13, 2017


Heating Oil

Statewide

Southwest

Central

Eastern

Western

Northern

Average

2.26

2.23

2.32

2.23

2.20

2.36

High

2.65

2.50

2.65

2.50

2.50

2.48

Low

1.96

1.98

1.99

1.96

1.98

2.30

Kerosene

2.79

2.84

2.81

2.75

2.72

2.83

Propane

2.55

2.50

2.63

2.46

2.46

2.80

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 $2.65, and the lowest heating oil price found was $1.96. 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 U.S. Census, American Community Survey
² 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