Congratulations. You just purchased a new home! There are a lot of decisions you will need to make as you settle in. If your home is heated with Bioheat® fuel, some people may be telling you to switch to electric heat pumps. There’s a lot you should know before you consider making that change.
Bioheat® Fuel is a Clean, Renewable, Lower-Carbon Fuel
- Bioheat® fuel is made with renewable biodiesel. The biodiesel reduces carbon emissions and helps your heating equipment run better.
- Bioheat® fuel works in any oil-fueled heating system. No modifications needed. No new equipment needed. It gets delivered the same way traditional heating oil is delivered, by the same company that delivered traditional heating oil in the past.
- Your local Bioheat® fuel retailer can deliver Bioheat® fuel with anywhere from 2% to 100% biodiesel, but most likely is delivering a 5% (B5)-to-20% (B20) blend.
- Bioheat® fuel is getting better every day. Many homes are being heated with B50 (50% renewable biodiesel) or B100 (100% renewable biodiesel). Some homes are combining B100 systems with solar panels for net-zero carbon emissions.
- The higher the blend of biodiesel (the “B” number), the lower your carbon emissions.
- Biodiesel is made from recycled cooking oils, refined (rendered) animal fats, soybean oil, or other vegetable oils.
- If we converted all the used cooking oil from restaurants and hotels in the U.S. to biodiesel, we could offset 10% of the country’s heating and transportation diesel needs.1
Switching Fuels is Expensive!
With all the talk about converting homes to electric heating, there is little talk about the actual cost to convert from Bioheat® fueled equipment to heat pumps. It could cost as much as $42,000!2
- Most average homes need at least two heat pumps, larger homes at least three, and if you live somewhere the temperatures regularly drop below freezing, you will need a cold-climate heat pumps costing up to $9,000 each.
- There’s a good chance you will need to upgrade your home’s electric service to handle the additional load, so add another $3,000 - $5,000 for electrical work.
- A new heat pump water heater will cost you $3,000 - $4,000.
- If your home had a steam boiler, you would have to convert your steam boiler to hydronic, to work with the heat pump. That could mean a mess of construction to update the pipes in your walls, and another $5,000 - $7,000.
Electric Heat’s Dirty Secrets
- Heat pumps produce less warmth when the temperature starts to get near freezing, and the outdoor unit needs to defrost – sometimes as frequently as every half hour. When that happens, you will need to rely on a “back-up” heating system – usually less efficient electric equipment, but many homeowners keep their trusty Bioheat® fuel system.
- Most of the electricity running heat pumps (and everything else) comes from carbon-spewing fossil gas or coal powered generators.
- Power plants in the Northeast are the source of more than 24 million tons of carbon emissions each year. You would need to drive 4.7 million cars to produce that much.
- There isn’t enough electricity or the transmission infrastructure available to meet current demands. Virtually every utility and transmission organization in the country has warned of rolling blackouts during peak demand periods, like during extreme cold. Every heat pump or electric vehicle adds to the demand, making rolling blackouts more likely all year round.
There’s no reason to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a heating system that won’t keep you warm, is not truly “clean” energy, and doesn’t work well in cold weather. You can save more and be more comfortable when you stick with Bioheat® fuel.
The Economics & Environmental Performance of Biodiesel vs. Electric Heat Pumps, R. Sweetser, R. Albrecht. 2019