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Heating Fuel Prices Rise Again, Straining Maine Household Budgets

MAINE – The Governor's Energy Office (GEO) conducted its weekly heating fuel price survey on Monday, December 30, 2013, and found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.76 per gallon, up four cents from last week.

The average statewide price for kerosene is also up four cents, to $4.16 per gallon. Propane prices, statewide, continue to rise; this week's average statewide price (for heating customers) is up another five cents, to $3.06 per gallon.

Heating fuel prices have risen 21 cents (heating oil), 23 cents (k-1), and 39 cents (propane) per gallon since the heating season began in October. Most of the price increases have occurred just since the end of November.

As reported last week, propane prices continue to rise as regional supplies are significantly below average and demand is high. Persistent cold temperatures and several winter storms, which have caused some prolonged power outages, have exacerbated the tight supply situation.

Heating oil and kerosene supplies are adequate, but crude oil prices (WTI) are still close to $100 per barrel, which means higher heating fuel prices. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), prices have climbed over 7 percent this month.

Using this week’s average heating oil price ($3.76) and converting to a common heating unit value (million Btu), the price of fuel oil is $27.11. This compares with an equivalent heating unit value for natural gas of $15.50 (at $1.55/therm); propane, $33.50 (at $3.06/gallon); wood pellets, $14.67 (at $242/ton); cord wood, $11.36 (at $250/cord) and electricity, $43.96 (at 15 cents per kwh).

These fuel-only prices do not take into account the type of heating system, nor its efficiency. For example, the electricity cost is for traditional baseboard heat. Other electric heating technologies, such as heat pumps and electric thermal storage (ETS), may offer consumers energy savings. Cold climate heat pumps, a recent technological advancement, are much more efficient than baseboard electric heat, so total energy costs are lower than many other types of heating fuels. ETS offers savings by utilizing off-peak electric rates, available in many areas of the state.

The Energy Office has a calculator on its web site that allows consumers to obtain more detailed estimates of home heating costs, and the price impacts of various types of fuel, heating systems and heating appliances. 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

It is important to note that the price for heating oil is a statewide average, and that 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 ($4.05) was found in one region in the state, and the lowest heating oil price ($3.58) was also recorded in only one region. Also, the statewide average price for propane is based on a use 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.

Efficiency Maine Trust links Maine homeowners and businesses with qualified, certified contractors who provide access to energy improvement options. For program details call 866-376-2463 or visit

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