How the New Bioheat Fuel Differs from the “Old” Heating Oil

types of heating oil massachusetts People who live in the Commonwealth are probably more familiar with Bioheat fuel than other areas of the country. That’s because many homeowners and businesses in Massachusetts have been using Bioheat fuel to stay warm for quite a few years.

As you probably know by now, Bioheat fuel is a blend of renewable biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur heating oil. It represents one of the best ways for reducing carbon dioxide in the environment without sacrificing comfort or needing to undertake expensive, disruptive equipment replacements.

So how does Bioheat fuel stack up against the traditional heating oil we relied on for decades? First, the similarities. Bioheat fuel basically works the same as traditional heating oil in your boiler or furnace. You can use it in your existing heating oil system without modification.

Bioheat Fuel Equals Lower Emissions

Bioheat fuel offers a responsible, immediate road to carbon reduction. That’s because Bioheat fuel reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 86%, compared to traditional petroleum heating oil. Bioheat fuel also helps eliminate harmful sulfur oxides and particulate matter.

In terms of fuel efficiency, you don’t lose any heating power with Bioheat fuel either. On the contrary, it burns much more efficiently, reducing heating system maintenance, improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions. It also has the highest Btu content of any alternative fuel!

A Realistic Clean Energy Plan for Massachusetts

Over the last couple of years, you may have heard about the clean energy goals and net-zero emissions targets that are mandated in Massachusetts by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008. Massachusetts aims to be a pioneer in the U.S. in the fight against climate change and the renewable liquid heating fuel industry is playing an important role to make that a reality.

To achieve these critical clean energy goals, our energy mix must be both reliable and renewable. Biodiesel, or Bioheat® fuel, is renewable by definition and is having an immediate impact on reducing carbon emissions across the state. Biodiesel supply is abundant, and the infrastructure is in place to significantly increase supply even further. 

The heating oil industry remains committed to helping the Commonwealth reach the net-zero carbon emissions goals outlined in the state’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2050. And that can be done without saddling homeowners with unnecessary and expensive conversions to other energy sources.

Heating oil companies in Massachusetts continue a proven pathway to reduce carbon emissions (CO2) with their embrace of Bioheat fuel. This clean-burning fuel–also referred to as advanced biofuel –is produced with recycled and organic materials such as animal fats, used cooking oil, and vegetable oils. This renewable liquid fuel is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and it’s produced under rigid specifications

Moving Towards Renewable B100 Bioheat Fuel

Some Massachusetts heating oil companies that started off delivering Bioheat fuel blends at 2% (known as B2) are now offering a B20 blend. And retailers who are registered with the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard are delivering blends above B20 if the fuel meets the program’s rigid specifications. Meanwhile, the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) and Clean Fuels Alliance of America continue to pursue research on making B100 Bioheat fuel a reality.

You can enjoy all of the benefits of Bioheat fuel with your next heating oil delivery. Learn more about the benefits of Bioheat fuel.

Sources:
https://mybioheat.com/
https://www.biodiesel.org/

How to Prevent Oil Delivery Delays

heating oil delivery massachusetts Anyone who has been stuck on the road during icy or snowy conditions during a Massachusetts winter storm can emphasize with what heating oil delivery drivers have to contend with when Mother Nature stands up and roars.

For delivery drivers, ice and snow can turn an already tough job into a potentially hazardous one. Maneuvering with a heavy hose while navigating slippery surfaces can be challenging as well. In some cases, drivers have sustained injuries when they lost their balance because of icy surfaces.

Keep Your Property Clear for Your Oil Delivery Driver

After a snow or ice storm, please clear a path to your oil fill pipe so your driver can reach it quickly and safely. You’ll also need to shovel or plow your driveway so it is free of snow and ice. Safety codes prohibit oil delivery drivers from trying to navigate slippery driveways. Fuel trucks also need a space wide enough for an ambulance to get through.

How to Avoid Running of Oil

To make winter deliveries easier and stress-free for you, ask your heating oil company if they offer automatic delivery service. They will use your past heating fuel usage and current weather conditions to know when to schedule a delivery before you run low. This eliminates the work and worry of managing your fuel supply.

But if you still prefer to call for heating oil, you need to give your heating oil company extra time when conditions are harsh in order to avoid running out of fuel. It’s best to call for more fuel when your oil tank falls to the one-quarter mark.

Staying Warm with a Safe Home Heating Fuel

Remember that when you get a heating oil delivery, you’re receiving a home heating fuel that has a remarkable safety record because it is biodegradable, nontoxic, and nonflammable.

For further peace of mind, modern heating oil tanks have been designed to be virtually leak-proof. Whether your oil storage tank is located in your basement or outside your home, the tanks being installed today are designed with corrosion-resistant materials.

Don’t Forget about Your Heating System

Ensuring you have removed any obstacles to getting a timely oil delivery is important. But you shouldn’t forget about paying some attention to your heating system during the cold months.

First of all, make sure you’re keeping the area around your heating system as clean and clutter-free as possible. Never store anything flammable, like paint or old newspapers, anywhere near your system.

If you have an oil furnace, check the air filter a few times during the heating season and clean/change it if it looks dirty. A dirty filter compromises efficiency and if it becomes badly clogged with dust and other debris, can force your system to shut down.

If you have a steam boiler, check the water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause for boiler shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be “flushed” when the water in the gauge looks rusty.

If you have a hot water boiler, make sure the water level of the boiler is half-full. The boiler’s automatic filling system, controlled by the pressure-reducing valve, should maintain the proper water level at 12 to 15 psi of pressure. If there isn’t a pressure-reducing valve, manually feed the boiler by opening up the water feed valve until the boiler pressure reaches 12 psi.

You Can Count on Your Heating Oil Company

Every year around this time of year, we hear inspiring stories about how technicians, drivers and other staff went out of their way to help a customer find a solution to a serious home comfort or safety issue.

But that’s just another day on the job for them. Employees of heating oil companies approach their work every day with a can-do attitude. The dedicated team at your local heating oil company takes pride in their responsive service and they truly care about your comfort and safety. That’s especially true when we’re facing big snow storms or single-digit outdoor temperatures and below-zero wind chills.

So, rest easy. You can always expect a fast and courteous response whenever a situation arises where you need help in a hurry. Responsiveness and dependability are among the most important attributes of Massachusetts heating oil companies.

Where It Comes from, How It Keeps You Warm

heating oil massachusetts If you’ve kept your home warm with heating oil for a while, you probably already know that heating oil, like many other products, comes from the refinement of crude oil.

Through the process of distillation, hydrocarbons are removed from the crude oil, which is further purified and blended to make the heating oil that your fuel company ultimately delivers to your heating oil tank.

The lightest fractions of crude oil eventually become propane, butane and petrochemicals, while slightly heavier fractions are used to produce gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, diesel fuel and No. 2 home heating oil. Diesel fuel and No. 2 heating oil are virtually the same in terms of their chemical composition, but they are taxed differently.

In recent years, there have been significant strides in the refining of heating oil that make it much cleaner and increasingly greener. Notably, most of the sulfur content has been removed, which is why today’s heating oil generates so little soot compared to the past. Heating oil is also being blended with renewable biofuel made from plants and other organic matter. This further reduces the fuel’s carbon emissions.

Leading the Way with Bioheat® Fuel

Massachusetts fuel companies are already leading the way on sustainability with Bioheat fuel, which must meet rigid production specifications. It is a “drop-in” fuel that requires little or no heating system modifications.

Renewable biofuels offer a responsible, immediate path for carbon reduction. Biofuels reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by as much as 86% over traditional petroleum heating oil. The fuel also helps eliminate sulfur oxides and particulate matter, which contribute to climate change problems and health issues.

A Growing Industry for Bioheat Fuel

Homeowners are using Bioheat fuel today across Massachusetts. This fuel burns so cleanly, it is helping homeowners save money on both fuel and system maintenance.

Nationwide, some three billion gallons of biofuel were consumed last year, and biofuel use is expected to exceed six billion gallons by 2030. This will eliminate over 35 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions annually. That is excellent news for the environment! Read more about getting a heating oil delivery that includes a biofuel blend.

How Heating Oil Keeps You Warm

You either have an oil furnace or oil boiler in your home. A furnace uses air to heat your home, while boilers use water. Furnaces and boilers can both use fuel oil to heat, and it starts in the combustion chamber, where the oil is tuned into a flame by the oil burner.

The burner can be considered the engine of your heating oil system. When your house gets chilly, the thermostat will send a signal to tell the oil burner in the furnace or boiler to turn on. A fuel pump then starts to draw the oil from the tank and through fuel lines to reach the oil burner.

There is a device on the burner called the nozzle, which turns the oil into a very fine spray. This oil mist mixes with air and ignites in the combustion chamber, which gets very hot. This heat then gets moved around your home and comes out either through radiators or baseboards (if you have a boiler) or vents (if you have a furnace).

How efficiently this is done depends a lot on the design of the burner. Modern burners contain electronic pre-purge and post-purge controls to ensure ultra-clean starts and stops. New two-stage burners also have an efficiency level that’s 5–15% higher than older ones because they have been designed to conserve fuel.

Read more about heating oil efficiency.

Preventive Maintenance for Heating Oil Systems

boiler service massachusetts Regular maintenance is a vital money-saving investment for your heating oil boiler because it keeps your equipment running safely and at peak efficiency. Four out of five heating system breakdowns are preventable if you follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations.

Boiler maintenance is accomplished through a professional tune-up done by your local full-service heating oil company. This allows a licensed heating oil service technician to fix minor issues before they become big problems (worn parts, etc.) (Find out if you need furnace maintenance or boiler maintenance).

Regular tune-ups can also help you conserve heating fuel over the winter. That’s because your professional heating oil technician will conduct many tests to make sure your heating system is running at the best possible efficiency. Any adjustments and repairs can be done after this initial evaluation. Here are some of the tests they may do:

  • CO2: Testing for carbon dioxide levels shows how airtight your heating system is. A high level of CO2 means your system has air leaks. Your technician will find and seal up those leaks.
  • Draft overfire and stack temperature: These two tests measure the amount of heat and volume of air going up the chimney.
  • Smoke reading: This test looks for smoke, which indicates a few problems, such as some of your fuel not turning into heat when burned. Second, smoke build-up in your system reduces its efficiency.
  • Draft at breech: This test measures the draft inside your heating system. If the draft is weak, it won’t vent combustion products properly. But a draft that is too strong sucks heat out of your home.
  • Total efficiency: Your professional heating oil technician combines all the readings taken while testing your heating system to give an overall efficiency rating for it.

Boiler Maintenance: Tasks You Can Do Yourself

If you have an older steam boiler, check the water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause of boiler shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be flushed when the water in the gauge looks rusty. If you have a modern hot water boiler, the boiler’s automatic filling system should maintain the proper water level.

When to Replace Your Boiler

Like any piece of equipment, your heating oil boiler will eventually have to be replaced one day. If you think it’s time to replace your old boiler, please contact your heating oil company. If you have an old heating system that’s been prone to repairs lately, a replacement system may be a better option than annual boiler maintenance.

Here are five signs that will help you determine if a replacement system is the better move.

  • How old is it? If your boiler’s age is creeping up on 20 years old, you’ll save money on your annual heating costs in the long run by replacing it with a new, more efficient system with advanced technology.
  • Do you see any corrosion? Just like your water heater, if you see outward signs of rust on your boiler, its time is limited. A professional inspection may also reveal damage to piping or other boiler components.
  • Is it keeping you warm enough? A properly working boiler should keep you comfortable even on the coldest nights, but a boiler’s operating performance diminishes with the passage of time.
  • Your heating costs continue to increase. Your boiler’s efficiency slowly degrades the older it gets. Lower efficiency means higher heating costs. Add in a higher number of repairs for an old system and this is another strong sign that you would do well to let go of your old heating oil boiler.
  • Diminished hot water production. If you depend on your boiler to heat your domestic hot water and you’re not getting as much hot water as before, this could be a sign of a leaking or corroded coil on the boiler – a precursor to boiler failure.

Today’s Heating Oil Systems: Incredibly Efficient

The latest heating oil boilers are small, smart, and super-efficient and can save you 20% or more on your annual heating costs. There are many different equipment options to fit your budget and your local heating oil company has expertise in all types and models of oil heating equipment. See how much you can save with a new boiler installation.

Read These Tips Before You Request a Furnace Repair

furnace problems massachusettsWhile there are many different situations that can cause your heating system to operate poorly–or not work at all—we’ll keep the focus of this blog on four common problems that occur a lot. Fortunately, these are usually easy and inexpensive to fix—or to avoid altogether.

Please note that in most cases, these tips apply to both heating oil furnaces and heating oil boilers. Not sure which type of heating system you have? Read Boiler vs. Furnace: What’s The Difference?

1. Power Interruptions

If your heat stops working and you’ve confirmed that there isn’t a power outage in your neighborhood, your next step should be to check for a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse. You also should check to see if the power switches to your boiler or furnace have been accidentally turned off

If you find that power switches for your heating system have been turned off by mistake, simply turn the electrical switches back to the “on” position and your problem may be solved. If only all solutions were that easy!

Typically, there is a power switch located on the side of the heating system or on a wall nearby. In addition, farther away, often at the top of the basement stairs, there is an emergency switch with a red cover plate that is labeled. People will sometimes turn this switch off by mistake, thinking it is the power switch for the basement light.

If your power switches are not the problem, check your circuit breaker box to see if all circuit switches are still in the “on” position. Flipping the proper switch to on again may be all you need to get your system running again.

However, please keep this in mind: a circuit breaker rarely ever trips for no reason. If this happens once and never happens again, it may be just a fluke. But if this happens more than once, contact a heating oil service professional, as this could indicate a serious problem.

2. Malfunctioning Thermostat

Many instances of heating systems not working can be traced to the thermostat, whose job it is to send a signal to your oil boiler or oil furnace to call for heat. But this signal may be interrupted if the wiring of the thermostat has begun to deteriorate. A build-up of dust inside your thermostat is another common reason why your thermostat is not operating correctly. Another thing to look for are weak batteries in the thermostat.

3. Lack of Maintenance

If you have a warm-air oil furnace, change or clean the filter on a regular basis during the heating season. Dust and dirt are the natural enemies of your furnace; a dirty filter compromises efficiency and can even cause your furnace to shut down.

If you have a steam oil boiler, check the water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause for boiler shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be flushed when the water in the gauge looks rusty. Contact your Massachusetts heating oil company if you’re not familiar with this procedure. You can also watch this quick video.

If you have a hot water oil boiler, make sure the water level of the boiler is at half-full. The boiler’s automatic filling system, controlled by the pressure-reducing valve, should maintain the proper water level at 12 to 15 psi of pressure.

And of course, you should always schedule preventive maintenance from your heating oil service provider so you don’t have to worry about your furnace or boiler breaking down during the winter. Annual service will also improve efficiency, helping you to conserve fuel.

4. No Heating Oil

If you call to order your fuel, make sure to check your heating oil tank regularly—especially in the middle of a cold snap. You should not let your oil tank fall below the ¼ mark. To prevent run-outs, see if your heating oil company offers automatic delivery service, which is designed to prevent run-outs.

If you have questions or any problems with your heating oil system, please reach out to your Massachusetts heating oil service provider.

A Promise of a Cleaner Future for Massachusetts

bioheat future massachusettsIn recent years, Massachusetts homeowners have heard about the commonwealth’s plans to reduce carbon emissions. The Clean Energy and Climate Plan proposes the replacement of one million natural gas, propane gas, and oil-fired residential heating systems with electric heat pumps by 2030 to help reduce carbon emissions.

But there are some fundamental questions and doubts about the feasibility of the plan, including the ability of the electric grid to handle the added electricity load of such a massive conversion to heat pumps.

On Track for Net-Zero Carbon Emissions

Massachusetts fuel companies are already leading the way on sustainability with Bioheat® fuel, a clean-burning blend of ultra-low-sulfur heating oil and biofuel/biodiesel produced with recycled and organic materials such as animal fats, used cooking oil, and soybeans. Biofuel must meet rigid production specifications and it is a “drop-in” fuel that requires little or no heating system modifications

Biofuel offers a responsible, immediate path for carbon reduction. Biofuels reduce CO2 emissions by 76% to 86% over traditional petroleum heating oil. The fuel also helps eliminate sulfur oxides and particulate matter, which contribute to climate change problems and health issues.

The heating oil industry is on pace to achieve the same 2050 carbon-reduction goals as Massachusetts’ Decarbonization Roadmap — without saddling homeowners with unnecessary and expensive conversions to other energy sources.

A Growing Industry for Bioheat Fuel

Homeowners are using Bioheat fuel today across Massachusetts. It can be utilized with existing oil-fired equipment and is as economical as traditional heating oil. Bioheat fuel burns so cleanly, it is helping homeowners save money on system maintenance.

Nationwide, some three billion gallons of biofuel were consumed last year, and biofuel use is expected to exceed six billion gallons by 2030. This will eliminate over 35 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions annually. That is excellent news for the environment! Read more.

As we look for more ways to decarbonize our economy, Bioheat fuel is leading the way in Massachusetts and across the country. For more information about Bioheat fuel, please go here.

Innovation Strikes Again in the Race Toward Cleaner Energy

cleaner biofuel massachsuettsResearchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are close to solving a problem that could make biofuel production even more eco-friendly.

To reduce the carbon intensity of biofuel production, researchers wanted to find a way to break down cellulosic biomass found in straw, switchgrass, and unused parts of corn. The problem is that when you extract fermentable sugars from this biomass, you generate chemical compounds that kill the yeast cells needed to make biofuel.

So, MIT researchers developed a yeast strain with a more durable cellular membrane that could withstand these compounds and convert them into ethanol. The results of their study were stellar – with this heartier yeast, they improved fuel ethanol creation in five cellulosic biomass types by 80%!

This study is extremely exciting. It could move biofuel generation away from more carbon-intensive plants like corn and toward less intensive feedstocks that would otherwise go unused. It’s another example of how research is driving innovation in biofuel. Scientific advances make the product that heats your home cleaner and more sustainable every day!

Green Fuel for the Future Continues Its Growth

With all of this good news about the positive benefits of using various organic products like switch grass as a biofuel crop, you might wonder where home heating oil stands. Don’t worry. Not only is today’s heating oil environmentally friendly but it’s also a vital part of America’s progress toward reaching net-zero carbon emissions.

Advanced heating fuels like Bioheat® fuel combine ultra-low-sulfur heating oil and biodiesel, composed of organic products like used cooking oil, tallow, fats, and algae. Produced in the United States, it is one of the cleanest-burning energy sources.

Biodiesel is a gallon-for-gallon substitute for petroleum-based fuels. Widespread regional use of Bioheat fuel annually prevents more than 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of removing 320,000 vehicles from the road.

Plus, homes that heat with energy-efficient Bioheat fuel use less energy overall. Right now, and in the years ahead, you should feel great about heating your Massachusetts home with renewable heating oil!

You can learn more about Bioheat fuel here.

A New, High-Efficiency System Will Save You Money

boiler installation massachusettsLike any piece of equipment, your heating oil boiler will eventually have to be replaced one day. Here are five signs that will help you determine if a replacement system is in order.

1. Age

Well-designed and properly maintained boilers can last 20 years or more. But why should you hold onto an aging, fuel-guzzling monster that is constantly demanding you feed it more and more oil? This costs a lot of money! You’ll save money on your annual heating costs by replacing your aging boiler with a new, more efficient system. New oil boilers heat your home using significantly less energy compared to older generation equipment. But more on that later in this blog.

2. Signs of Corrosion

Just like your water heater, if you see outward signs of rust on your boiler, its time is running out. A professional inspection may also reveal damage to piping or other boiler components.

3. Your Comfort Levels

Is your old boiler keeping you warm enough? A properly working heating oil boiler should keep you comfortable even on the coldest Massachusetts nights, but a boiler’s operating performance diminishes with the passage of time.

4. Your Heating Costs Continue to Rise

Your boiler’s efficiency slowly degrades the older it gets. Lower efficiency means higher heating costs and things get even more painful when you mix in today’s high heating fuel costs. Add in a higher number of repairs for an old system and this is another strong sign that you would do well to let go of your old oil boiler and upgrade to a new one.

5. Diminished Hot Water Production

If you depend on your boiler to heat your domestic hot water—and you’re not getting as much hot water as before–this could be a sign of a leaking or corroded coil on the boiler, a warning of potential boiler failure.

Today’s Heating Oil Systems: Incredibly Efficient

The latest oil boilers—along with modern oil furnaces–are small, smart, and super-efficient and can save you 20% or more on your annual heating costs. There are many different equipment options to fit your budget and your local heating oil company has expertise in all types and models of heating oil equipment.

According to the National Oilheat Research Alliance, homeowners now need about 700 gallons less oil to heat their homes each year than they needed in the 1980s. That’s because new, high-efficiency heating systems feature enhanced technology and control capabilities to provide optimal comfort while decreasing energy costs. Another popular feature of modern, high-efficiency heating systems is that they operate significantly quieter than old heaters.

In contrast, heating systems from the “old days” were built with thick metal components that do a poor job at transferring heat. Unfortunately, many of these systems are still in use today and people who hang on to them pay so much more to heat their home than someone who has upgraded their heating oil system in the past few years.

Despite this potential for big savings, many people don’t bother to update their heating system until something major goes wrong. They don’t realize that a new, high-efficiency system could actually pay for itself in a fairly short period of time.

Improvements in Fuel Quality

The combination of continually improving ultra-low sulfur Bioheat® fuel with increasingly efficient heating oil systems is the 1-2 punch that will help homeowners save significant money on their heating bills. At the same time, their oil-heated homes will be on the path to becoming carbon-neutral.

To get started on the road to energy savings, reach out to your local heating oil service provider and they’ll be glad to crunch some numbers for you. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much you could save.

The More Efficient Your Home, the More You Save

home energy tips massachusettsNow is an ideal time to make some home improvements, especially in terms of raising your home’s energy efficiency levels.

Besides partnering with your home heating oil company to replace low-efficiency heating equipment and schedule heating system maintenance before the fall, do your own self-audit to find areas where you can make improvements. Here are some suggestions:

Weatherize and Insulate

Caulk any air leaks around exterior doors and windows. While you’re at it, replace door weatherstripping that might have worn away.

Also, consider hiring an expert to evaluate the insulation levels in your home. Most homes are under-insulated, especially in the attic. Adding enough insulation to meet recommended R-values is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s overall efficiency and comfort. Read the Energy Department’s Guide to Home Insulation.

Install Ceiling Fans

Using ceiling fans will help you feel cooler in the summer even with your thermostat set at a higher temperature. You can also use them during the winter to push down warm air trapped near the ceiling, which means you can use less heating oil and still stay warm.

Install Flow-restricting Showerheads

You can reduce your hot water use by as much as 50% without affecting shower pressure. Make sure you also scrub away mineral deposits on your showerhead from time to time to prevent clogs.

Use a Smart Programable Thermostat

Studies show that about nine out of ten people say they’ve rarely or never programmed their thermostats because they’re not sure how to do it. That’s a shame, considering that managing the temperature of your home is one of the easiest ways to save energy and lower both heating and cooling expenses. (Tip: Spend a little time watching “how-to” videos online).

Once you’re more comfortable programming your thermostat, follow this advice. In the spring and summer, the U.S. Energy Department recommends setting your central air conditioning system to 78°F when you’re at home. Program your A/C system to shut off 20-30 minutes before you leave home each day; return the temperature setting to normal comfort levels 20 to 30 minutes before you come home.

In the winter, the optimal setting is 68°F when you’re at home. Dial it down toward the 60°F range when you’re asleep or out of the house. The temperatures you ultimately choose will depend on factors like the outdoor temperature and your family’s comfort preferences. Remember, these are just guidelines.

If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, getting one is a smart move. When used correctly, it will pay for itself in just a short time. If you choose a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can control your home’s temperature from your smartphone.

Pay Attention to Your Oil Furnace or Oil Boiler

If you have a forced-air system (one with vents rather than radiators or baseboards), the most important self-maintenance task you have is to check your air filters regularly, cleaning or changing them when needed. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Clogged filters rob your furnace of efficiency by making it overwork to keep you warm; that means higher heating bills and more wear and tear on your equipment. Note: the same principle about air filters applies if you have a central air conditioning system in your home.

If you have an older steam boiler, check the water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause for boiler shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be “flushed” when the water in the gauge looks rusty. If you have a modern hot water boiler, the boiler’s automatic filling system should maintain the proper water level.

To learn about how you can positively impact your home’s energy efficiency through upgrades to systems like high-efficiency heating oil boilers and heating oil furnaces, please go here.

Understanding the Energy Markets and Price Fluctuations

heating oil prices massachusettsGlobal crude oil prices soared to their highest point in eight years after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. As you probably know all too well by now, as the price of crude oil goes, so goes gasoline, heating oil and the many other products derived from it.

This latest news seemed as if an unseen force somewhere was taking pleasure in piling on more misery for consumers already exhausted by two years of surviving a pandemic. Prior to this, energy prices in all sectors—oil, propane, natural gas, and electricity—had been on a steady rise because global oil production hadn’t yet caught up with the pent-up demand that quickly followed the perceived end of the pandemic.

Even before the war in Ukraine further accelerated price increases, frenetic consumer spending–combined with persistent supply shortages–had sent inflation rates in our country to their highest level in 40 years.
 
The only good news is that this shocking price spike occurred near the end of winter, instead of the beginning. You can view a heating oil price update from the U.S Energy Information Administration by going here.

You can also check out the history of heating oil prices in Massachusetts here.

So how did we get here and where are we going now?

Lagging Oil Supply

As was noted before, global crude oil production hasn’t yet caught up with pent-up demand. So, why can’t we just drill for more oil at home?

It’s not that simple. First, even if the U.S. did drill for enough oil and keep it all here to gobble up for ourselves, that crude oil would still be tightly married to the global oil market—and beholden to whatever the world’s highest bidder is willing to pay for it.

This “solution” is also ignoring the fact that right now, oil companies are feeling enormous pressure to give up fast growth in favor of steadier profits and stock-boosting finance moves, such as higher dividends, more share buybacks and reduced debt. Read more about this here.

Investors have also been reading the tea leaves, and realize that a zero-carbon emissions world is not too far off in our future. Big money is holding back on fossil fuel investments as legislators try to move the country toward more renewable energy. Investors instead are looking to sink their money into long-term, profitable opportunities in the burgeoning green energy field.  By the way, the heating oil industry is making excellent progress with making our fuel more dependent on renewable energy, too. Read about the benefits awaiting us in the future with Bioheat® fuel.

How Your Massachusetts Heating-Oil Company Can Help

When prices spike like this, people tend to think that their local heating oil company makes more money. In fact, the opposite is true. Customers cut back on fuel use, and they have trouble paying their bills. Meanwhile, heating oil companies have to pay their suppliers within a few days at much higher rates. Supply chain issues remain a big challenge to overcome. It’s an awful mess for everyone.

Although your local heating oil company cannot control world energy prices, they do have some ways to make things a little easier.  Consider your Massachusetts heating-oil company your energy-saving partner.

During the heating season, your full-service heating-oil company will always maintain and ensure an ample supply of fuel to make sure you stay warm and safe.

Your local heating-oil company may be able to make life easier with automatic deliveries of fuel so that you don’t have to worry about calling for deliveries or running out of fuel when you need it the most.

To take away any worries about the normal ebb and flow of oil prices, contact your heating-oil company. Many companies offer programs designed to save you money and keep your heating bills manageable—no matter what happens with world oil prices or heating-oil prices in Massachusetts.

Rest assured, your Massachusetts heating oil supplier will do everything possible to ensure that they can make deliveries—no matter the cost or difficulty they face.

What Will Happen Next with Oil Prices?

We don’t know where things will go from here, but if history is a guide, we can expect to see prices drop pretty significantly in the not-too-distant future. If you would like to read the U.S. Department of Energy’s short-term energy outlook, please go here.

Nothing will make your local Massachusetts heating oil company happier than when prices return to normal.  Until then, trust your heating oil supplier to look out for you and let’s hope that—regardless of what happens with energy prices—we will soon be living in a more peaceful world.