Truth Vs. Myth
There are some myths about Oilheat that need to be explained.
Myth No.1: The Oilheat supply could run out.
Truth: Heating oil customers have nothing to worry about. Oilheat reserves were at a 24-year high in the summer of 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal.1 Global petroleum reserves are plentiful too, and with over 100 oil-producing countries, the U.S. is not dependent on any one source for our supply.* In the event of a shortage, the United States is well prepared with 727 million barrels in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and approximately 2 million barrels in the Northeast Heating Oil Reserve. In addition to plentiful supplies of petroleum, there is a renewable supply of liquid biofuel that blends readily with heating oil to fuel an Oilheat system.
Myth No. 2. Oilheat is bad for the environment.
Truth: Oilheat produces near-zero levels of emissions today and is not regulated by the Federal Clean Air Act.2 Equipment manufacturers are introducing new oil burners that further reduce emissions by "reburning" the flue gases created inside a boiler or furnace. The Oilheat industry will soon adopt new reduced-sulfur blends that can be mixed with biofuel to create one of the cleanest heating fuels available.
Myth No. 3: Oilheat is more expensive than natural gas.
Truth: Annual price data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration for 1987 to 2008 shows that Oilheat was less expensive than natural gas in 20 of the 22 years in Massachusetts. In New York State during the same years, Oilheat was less expensive than natural gas in 15 out of the 22 years.
Myth No. 4: Oilheat is old-fashioned.
Truth: Oilheat and the equipment that it fuels are both on the cutting edge of heating technology. The fuel itself is being transformed through sulfur reduction, blending with biofuel, and the use of advanced additives. Oilheat boilers and furnaces improve every year with the incorporation of new technologies like secondary heat exchange and modulating burners. System efficiency has improved so much in recent years that the average Oilheated home cut oil consumption by 33.6% between 1978 and 2005.
Myth No. 5: Oilheat is dirty.
Truth: A properly adjusted and maintained Oilheat system burns cleanly, and any soot that is created occurs only where it belongs - inside the system's combustion chamber and flue. The liquid fuel should never be present outside the tank and the burner, and you should never smell it. If you can smell the fuel, ask your Oilheat dealer to check it out.
Myth No. 6: Oilheat tanks are a nuisance.
Truth: Oilheat tanks represent two of the fuel's great strengths: independent storage, and safety. When you have a supply of Oilheat in your tank, you are more impervious to supply disruption than your neighbors who use natural gas. Natural gas depends on uninterrupted service to keep your home warm, and any pipeline incident can cause an outage and put the home at risk.
There are some myths about natural gas that need to be explained.
Myth No. 1: Natural gas use benefits the environment.
Truth: Natural gas is 95% methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas with 84 times the Global Warming Potential of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. Methane losses from natural gas systems account for 18 percent of total worldwide methane emissions, according to the international organization Methane to Markets. Although methane is a potent contributor to global climate change, many U.S. gas utilities tolerate leakage as long it does not pose an immediate threat of explosion or fire.
Myth No. 2: Natural gas is inexpensive.
Truth: Natural gas is a fossil fuel that is "essentially irreplaceable," according to the Natural Gas Supply Association, and future pricing is a serious concern, according to U.S. News & World Report. A March 2009 article stated, "Natural gas is also gaining in popularity worldwide. Global consumption could increase more than twofold in coming years, and that could make for a very competitive and unreliable international market."
Myth No. 3: Natural gas is a domestic product.
Truth: The United States has only 4% of the world's natural gas reserves, while 73% is located in Russia, Eurasia and the Middle East, according to a May 2009 report by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). U.S. natural gas consumption is expected to increase by 18% by 2030, and DOE states that domestic production cannot keep pace with demand growth. "An increasing amount of imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will be required to meet anticipated consumption," DOE stated in a 2007 report.
Myth No. 4: There are no issues with natural gas supply.
Truth: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is organizing an OPEC-style cartel with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other world leaders to drive up natural gas prices. In December 2008, Putin declared, "The era of cheap energy resources, of cheap gas, is, of course, coming to an end." Russia has already demonstrated its willingness to reduce natural gas supplies during international disputes, having cut all supplies to Ukraine in 2006, then plunged Europe into an energy crisis in 2009 by reducing supplies by 20%.
Myth No. 5: It makes sense to convert to natural gas for home heating.
Truth: The Consumer Energy Council of America calls fuel conversion an "expensive gamble" and recommends that homeowners upgrade their oil equipment to achieve conservation, rather than switch fuels. Conversion is more expensive than upgrading, with a low likelihood of meaningful savings.
Myth No. 6: Natural gas is safe.
Truth: Natural gas is explosive, and leaks can be hazardous. In light of numerous deadly explosions, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended the use of excess flow valves that can keep gas from entering a home when there is a rupture in a gas main. Utilities install these valves on new homes, but many older homes are unprotected. Natural gas heating systems are also the leading cause of non-fire-related carbon monoxide deaths.
Myth No. 7: Natural gas is better than Oilheat.
Truth: Natural gas has no significant advantages over Oilheat. The costs and the life-cycle environmental impacts are similar. The big difference is in service, because full-service Oilheat dealers provide the preventive maintenance that every heating system needs, regardless of the fuel it uses. Oilheat dealers also provide great peace of mind by offering 24-hour emergency service. Gas utilities, on the other hand, generally provide neither preventive maintenance nor emergency service. As a result, gas customers may be wasting fuel by using poorly tuned equipment, and they might have no one who will help them in the event of a heat emergency.