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Energy Facts

Energy Prices

  • Natural gas prices have been rising steadily over the last two years.
  • This past winter, natural gas prices spiked considerably, and prices are expected to continue rising.
  • Demand for natural gas from home conversions, electric generation, and exports is expected to increase in the coming years.
  • High demand creates higher prices.
  • Gas companies can bill consumers for the gas that leaks out through the pipelines and doesn’t reach their homes.
    • Between 2000 and 2011, consumers paid $20 billion for gas they never received.
  • Gas company bills have hidden charges for: peak delivery rates, customer charges, commodity charges, conservation adjustments, sales service charges, transportation service charges, and more.
  • For nearly 30 years, gas and oil were comparably priced – and heating oil had the advantage most of the time.

 Considerations before Converting to Natural Gas

  • Converting can cost up to $11,000 (or higher with high-efficiency equipment).
  • That doesn’t necessarily include: additional equipment like water heaters, gas line installation, permits, taxes, chimney liner, oil tank abandonment or removal, heating system removal, plumbing, electrical and even landscaping.
  • When homeowners finance a heating system conversion, they’re going into debt on a gamble.
    • If natural gas prices continue to go up, or if Oilheat prices drop, you may never earn back your initial investment.

 Environment

  • Natural gas is mostly methane, which is 20-84 times more harmful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
  • Pipelines are leaking methane and natural gas into the atmosphere at alarming rates – in 2011, lost gas could have met all of Maine’s energy needs for a year!
  • Ultra-Low Sulfur Heating Oil (ULSHO) has near-zero emissions, and is now blended with biodiesel, creating Bioheat® fuel. 

 Renewable Choice

  • Bioheat® fuel is a renewable resource – made from a variety of biomass (soybean, corn, algae, other oils) products and produced in the United States
  • At B17 to B20 blends (17%-20% biodiesel, 83%-80% Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil), Bioheat® fuel can produce lower lifetime emissions than natural gas. Over 20 years B2 has been cleaner than gas.

 Safety Concerns

  • Natural gas leaks can cause explosions destroying homes and claiming lives.
  • Faulty natural gas heating systems are among the major causes of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Oilheat is not flammable in its liquid form, and produces visible warning signs in the event of a malfunction.

Energy Supply

  • The current natural gas pipeline transmission system is insufficient, which leads to higher natural gas prices.
  • Utilities need to shut off natural gas service to large users like schools, hospitals and factories to have enough supply for high-demand periods.
    • These “interruptible” users turn to heating oil when the gas company shuts them off.
  • Much of the natural gas pipeline system is old, deteriorating and leaking, leading to environmental and safety concerns.
  • Natural gas pipelines need to be shut down during road construction, pipeline repair work and during emergency situations or extreme weather events, which can leave homeowners without heat for hours or even days.
  • Heating oil is stored safely on the property, so it's readily available whenever  needed.

 Service

  • Most heating oil dealers are independent local businesses which have been in the community for years.
  • Heating oil customers have freedom of choice – they can change dealers at any time, which makes customer service a priority.
  • Heating oil dealers usually offer 24/7 emergency service along with regular maintenance and repair services, including service contracts, budget and price protection programs, and personal attention.
  • Natural gas utilities are corporate, publicly-held entities which are more concerned with the shareholders’ return than the homeowners’ comfort.
    • Many natural gas utilities are owned by international corporations or large financial holding companies like J.P. Morgan.
  • Natural gas corporations are notorious for not being accessible to customers during emergencies like major storms when power and energy are shut down.
  • Natural gas companies do not usually offer equipment repair, and will only service and repair pipelines.

Ways to Save on Heating Bills

  • Upgrading an existing heating system costs about one-half to one-third of the cost to convert to natural gas.
  • New, high-efficiency heating equipment can save the homeowner up to 30 percent in energy bills for immediate savings.
  • Smart controls can provide even more savings. Consider a programmable thermostat for 5%-10% in savings annually.
  • Annual heating system tune-ups reduce energy consumption by up to 5 percent.
  • Insulation and envelope sealing (windows, doors, attics and cracks in the wall) can lower energy usage and drafts.