Heating Oil Vs. Fuel Oil

Home Heating Oil Can Go by Different Names

heating oil wisconsin Have you ever referred to the fuel in your heating system as furnace oil? How about home heating oil or fuel oil? At first glance, these descriptive terms may seem interchangeable, but there are some subtle differences.

First, furnace oil or home heating oil applies only to the heating fuel your furnace uses to heat your home.

You can also call the heating oil that powers your furnace fuel oil, but this term is not limited to home heating oil. Fuel oil is a broader term because it refers to any petroleum product that can power a home heating system or an engine. For instance, diesel fuel is a good example of fuel oil.

What these terms have in common is that all these fuels are derived from crude oil during the refining process, which separates crude oil into different “fractions” while removing impurities.

The lighter fractions of crude oil eventually become propane, butane, and petrochemicals while heavier fractions are used to produce gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, diesel fuel, and No. 2 home heating oil. Heavier fractions become No. 4 or No. 6 heating oils. This is used for commercial and industrial buildings, schools, and hospitals.

Types of Common Fuel Oil Products

  • Diesel —This is the fuel of choice for most commercial ventures. It can be used to power buses, trucks, forklifts, generators, farm equipment and boats. While there are two categories of diesel–on-road and off-road—there is no chemical difference between them. The only difference is their appearance, intended usage and price.
  • Kerosene — A clear fuel that was first used to power oil lamps in the 19th Century, kerosene is made by distilling crude oil at extremely hot temperatures. Kerosene is valued because it has a low “gel point.” This means it can continue to work well and flow to the heating system in sustained freezing temperatures. That’s why it is typically used by consumers with mobile homes or outdoor fuel tanks.
  • Heating oil — Petroleum-based home heating oil, also called No. 2 fuel oil, is essentially the same as off-road diesel. However, many homeowners and businesses around the country are now using a more environmentally friendly product called Bioheat® fuel.
  • Bioheat fuel — Heating oil has been reformulated with Bioheat fuel, which consists of ultra-low sulfur heating oil that’s blended with renewable biofuel, also known as biodiesel. These Bioheat fuel blends are the future of heating oil. The most refined grade of heating oil available, Bioheat fuel is one of the cleanest burning heating sources for your home. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly and no changes to your existing heating oil system are necessary to start using Bioheat fuel.

How Home 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 both use oil to generate 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 fine spray. This oil mist mixes with air and ignites in the combustion chamber, which gets extremely 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).

If you’re ready to explore new heating oil system options for your home, your local heating oil company or HVAC service contractor will be happy to help. Please remember to ask about current rebate opportunities for new heating oil equipment in Wisconsin.

Is Your Oil Tank Gauge Working Properly?

What to Know about Reading Your Tank Levels

oil tank wisconsin It never hurts to review the basics of reading your heating oil tank gauge, so here are five important points you should know.

  1. On top of the tank is a clear glass or plastic cube that is marked with numbers that resemble the gas gauge of your car: F, ¾, ½, ¼. A red marker or float commonly indicates the amount of fuel left in your tank. If the float is at the bottom of the gauge or not visible at all, your tank is empty or nearly empty.
  2. To make sure the gauge is working, carefully remove the outer case and gently press the float down. If it bobs back up to the original position, the gauge is working. If the gauge is not working, contact your heating oil service provider to get it checked.
  3. To estimate how many gallons you have in your tank based on the reading you see on the gauge, remember this. The most common size of heating oil tank is 275 gallons, but the size of the tank doesn’t indicate how much fuel it really can hold.
  4. When full, a 275-gallon tank holds approximately 225 gallons; the rest of the space is left to allow for air or debris at the bottom of your tank. So, if your gauge reads “½” in a 275-gallon tank, you have about 110 gallons left, not 135 or so as you might first expect. You may have a different tank size, which is often indicated on the side of your tank, but older models may not include that information. But you will typically see that information on your heating oil delivery ticket.
  5. You should call for more fuel when the tank gauge reaches the “¼” mark.

If you want to avoid checking your oil tank gauge, ask your heating oil supplier if they can provide automatic delivery service, which frees you from the task of always checking the fuel level in your oil storage tank. Many heating oil companies have the resources to monitor your fuel usage remotely and deliver accordingly.

Whistling Sounds During Deliveries

If your oil tank is in your basement and you’re home when a driver makes his delivery, you’ll probably hear a whistling noise as your tank starts to fill up. But don’t worry. This is perfectly normal.

Besides the tank itself, your heating oil storage system includes important components like the fill pipe, vent pipe and vent alarm whistle.

After the driver arrives, he connects the hose from his oil truck to the fill pipe and starts pumping the oil. As oil flows into the tank, air is pushed back out. As the air goes through the vent alarm–located between your tank and vent pipe–it makes a whistling sound. When the whistling stops, the tank is just about full.

Since your basement tank is out of sight from the driver, the vent alarm whistle prevents overfilling and the possibility of a spill. Safety codes do not allow your heating oil company to deliver your fuel if the vent alarm whistle is not working.

Four Facts about Oil Piping

  1. The vent pipe also relieves the vacuum created when the oil burner pulls fuel from the tank.
  2. The vent pipe should be at least 1.25 inches in diameter. A diameter that’s too narrow allows excessive pressure to build up inside the tank during filling, which can cause a tank rupture.
  3. PVC piping does not meet NFPA safety codes and must be replaced because this material is more likely to crack when tanks are being filled.
  4. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to properly maintain fuel tanks and all associated piping.

Reach out to your Wisconsin heating oil company if you have questions or concerns about your vent pipe, fill pipe or vent alarm whistle. Right now, you may qualify for rebates when you upgrade your oil tank. If the tank doesn’t need to be replaced, rebates are also available for upgrading your fill pipe and vent alarm whistle.

How Efficient Are Heating Oil Systems?

The Reason People Use Less Heating Oil Now

oilheat wisconsin Today’s heating oil boilers and heating oil furnaces offer Wisconsin homeowners a great opportunity to increase their comfort while decreasing their energy usage. New heating oil systems can now heat a home using significantly less energy compared to older generation equipment.

The combination of higher blends of Bioheat fuel with increasingly efficient heating oil systems serves as the 1-2 punch that will help homeowners with oilheat save significant money on their energy bills while their homes are becoming more carbon neutral. The growth of Bioheat fuel makes it possible to install more super high efficiency systems in the years ahead.

People Need Less Heating Oil Now

Compared to about 25 years ago, homeowners now need an average of 500 gallons less heating oil to heat their homes each year. 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 heating systems.

In contrast, old heating systems 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 still use them pay so much more to heat their home.

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 pay for itself in a fairly short period of time.

What Does AFUE Mean?

AFUE, an acronym for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, is a type of energy efficiency rating used for furnaces and boilers, including those fueled by heating oil. The AFUE number—usually found on a yellow sticker attached to your heating system—represents how much of the fuel your equipment consumes is being directed toward producing heat for your living space.

For example, in a newer heating system with an 85% AFUE rating, 85% of the fuel consumed by the heating system goes toward heating your home; the remaining 15% is lost in the combustion process—usually getting wasted up the chimney.

Another way to think about AFUE is to consider it in terms of the dollars you spend on fuel. In an 85% AFUE furnace, 85 cents of every dollar will go toward heating your Wisconsin home. But if your oil-powered furnace is old and not well maintained, your actual AFUE could drop into the 60s or even 50s. This is a big reason why new heating oil equipment usually pays for itself quickly. You’ll also see savings on maintenance and repairs when you update your system.

Knowing the AFUE rating remains an important bit of information when it comes time to high efficiency home heating equipment. But AFUE doesn’t tell the whole efficiency story. Proper heating system installation and periodic heating system maintenance are also extremely important pieces of the equation.

Efficiency ratings can be a good general starting point, but it’s important to remember that the tests to determine AFUE are all done in a laboratory. Efficiency performance is only as good as your installer. Equipment needs to be installed to the manufacturer’s specifications so you can get the best performance and value for your investment.

Installing Heating Equipment Properly

Your installer will have to determine how much BTU power your new system needs. Some contractors will miscalculate and install a heating system that’s too powerful, or oversized. This will give you more heat than you need, wasting energy and money. But if the system doesn’t have enough power, (undersized), your home will not feel comfortable; you will also spend more on fuel because the boiler or furnace will keep turning on.

To determine how much power your home’s heating system needs, an experienced heating oil service provider will do tests to figure out how much heat your home loses in the winter.

Once a proper-sized system is selected, your heating oil service provider will install it the right way. This requires skilled technicians with specialized training. A furnace or boiler is not like a refrigerator that gets wheeled into the kitchen and plugged in. A heating system installation takes much more work!

Bottom line: installing a new heating system will increase energy efficiency and save you money, assuming the boiler or furnace is sized and installed correctly.

If you’re ready to explore new heating oil system options for your home, your local heating oil company or HVAC service contractor will be happy to help. Please remember to ask about current rebate opportunities for heating oil equipment in Wisconsin.

Do I Have Enough Heating Oil for Winter?

Many Variables Affect Your Fuel Consumption

heating oil wisconsin Throughout the heating season, heating oil consumers generally need anywhere from 700 to 900 gallons during a normal winter.

Since many homeowners have a 275-gallon aboveground heating oil tank on their property, let’s use that as an example to estimate how long a full tank of heating oil would last.

First, you need to know that this type of tank typically holds only about 230 gallons of fuel when full. Why isn’t it 275 gallons? Space needs to be left in the tank to allow for expansion and prevent any spillage upon delivery. Those 230 gallons in a full tank should still give you enough heating fuel to last from 4-6 weeks if you own a 2,000 square foot home.

Of course, these are just rough estimates. Many variables affect the amount of fuel you consume. This includes the outdoor temperature, the size of your home, the quality of insulation in your home, the efficiency of your heating oil system and how well it’s been maintained, and the thermostat setting you choose.

Here’s one way your actual usage can vary. In an average size home, (about 2,400 square feet), if the temperature during a 24-hour period averaged 20 degrees, you probably would burn about seven gallons. On the other hand, if the average temperature was 40 degrees the next day, you would probably use a shade under 4 gallons during that time.

Watch Your Tank Levels

If you call to order fuel, make sure to check your heating oil tank regularly—especially in the middle of a cold snap. Don’t wait until your fuel level gets too low. It’s best to call when your oil tank gauge reads about ¼ full.

Many Wisconsin full-service heating oil companies offer automatic delivery, a free service that takes away the hassle of having to check your tank and order your fuel. It also lowers the risk of running out of heating oil. Some companies may also be able to install a device to your tank that wirelessly monitors your fuel usage so they will always know the exact amount of fuel in your tank.

Keep It Clear for Your Delivery Driver

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

Pay Attention to Your Heating System

If you have a heating oil furnace, change or clean the air filter a few times during the heating season. A dirty filter compromises efficiency and can even result in a shutdown if it gets clogged with dust and other particles.

If you have an old 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. Talk with your heating oil technician if you’re not familiar with this procedure.

If you have a modern hot water boiler, its 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 the water feed valve until the boiler pressure reaches 12 psi.

Finally, for safety’s sake, keep the area around your heating oil boiler or heating oil furnace as clean and clutter-free as possible. Never store anything flammable, like newspapers or cans of paint, anywhere near your system.

Count on Your Wisconsin Heating Oil Company

When it’s cold, your heating oil company will have an ample supply of fuel on hand to make sure you stay warm. And when it’s time to upgrade your heating system, your heating oil company can help secure rebates that could save you up to $1,200 on the new equipment.

Read about heating oil equipment rebates in Wisconsin.

What Temperature Do I Set My Home Heating To?

The Best Winter Thermostat Settings

home temperature wisconsin One heated debate that will be happening in Wisconsin homes during the winter months centers around thermostat settings. A common question that comes up is this: how low can I set my thermostat during the winter without causing problems or feeling too cold—and how much can I really save on home heating if I do this? Is it worth it?

While finding a balance between comfort and savings is not easy because every family and home are different, the U.S. Department of Energy says you can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and then moving it about 8°F lower while you’re asleep or away from home.

Why You Save

The lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss, according to Energy.gov. So, the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save, because your house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature.

The same concept applies to raising your thermostat setting in the summer — a higher temperature inside your home will slow heat gain into your house, saving you energy and money on air conditioning costs.

The Energy Department concludes that you can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting.

Don’t Set Your Thermostat Too Low

Before you start calculating your potential savings, please keep this in mind. When the temperature inside your house drops too low (below 60°F,) the risk for frozen pipes goes up a lot. So, why do water pipes freeze?

Most bathroom and kitchen pipes are not insulated, so they rely on your home heating system to keep them warm. Without adequate exposure to heat, these pipes can freeze and because of this expansion, eventually burst. This can cause severe water and structural damage that could cost thousands of dollars to repair. There are countless stories of people returning from a winter vacation only to find a water pipe had burst and flooded their home.

How to Avoid Frozen Water Pipes

  • If you plan to be away from home in winter, keep your setting a little higher than 60° F if temperatures are forecasted to be especially frigid when your home is vacant.
  • Keep the main water valve turned off while you’re away. If a water pipe breaks, you’ll limit the damage.
  • Have a neighbor or friend check your house when you’re away to head off problems.
  • Plug or caulk holes that allow water lines to be exposed to cold outside air.
  • On cold days and nights, open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors where water pipes are located, allowing heat to enter.
  • Check in and around your home for water lines in colder or unheated areas. Insulate both cold and hot water lines in areas such as your garage, crawl spaces and your attic.
  • If the cold weather is sustained or severe and you’re afraid your pipes are at risk for freezing, allow a small trickle of warm and cold water through the faucet to keep water in the pipes moving.

Use A Programmable Thermostat

An easy way to avoid problems and make your life easier is to upgrade to a smart programmable thermostat, which will help you keep temperatures low while you’re away and higher while you’re home during the winter. This eliminates the task of adjusting your thermostat every day, as you will need to do if you have an old-style manual thermostat. Plus, with a smart thermostat, you can use your smart phone to monitor your home’s temperature anytime, from anywhere.

Read more about smart thermostats.

If you’re worried that your heating system will not keep you warm enough this winter, please explore current heating oil equipment rebates and then reach out to your heating oil service provider for advice.

What Is Making My Furnace Smell?

How to Determine the Cause of Furnace Odors

stinky furnace wisconsin By now, you’ve probably started up your furnace to chase away some of the early fall chill from your Wisconsin home. If you’ve already taken care of getting your heating oil furnace checked and serviced for the winter ahead, it will more than likely perform without a hitch this season.

But often, when regular heating maintenance has been put off, your furnace will give you warning signs of a coming problem – and those signs will often come in the form of odd smells.

Strange odors emanating from your furnace can indicate several problems. Some are easy to fix, others are more complex. Here are five common furnace odors you may encounter and what they may mean for your heating equipment.

5 Common Furnace Odors

  1. Heating oil odors. If your heating oil furnace is working properly, you should never smell fuel oil. An oil smell could be caused by a leak, burner troubles, a heat exchanger failure or exhaust system problems. You should reach out to your equipment service provider as soon as possible to correct this situation.
  2. Smoky odors when your furnace operates. If a fireplace or exhaust fan is running at the same time as your oil burner, this can result in a smoky odor because a backdraft is pulling flue gases through the exhaust system and into your home. Please keep this in mind if you detect a smoky odor.
  3. Dusty/burning smell. A dusty, burning smell coming from your heating oil furnace can be quite common, especially early in the heating season. The smell is often the result of your furnace burning away dust and dirt that has accumulated during the offseason. If dust is the cause, the burning smell should go away after a few hours. If it doesn’t, try replacing the air filter in the furnace–which you should do at the beginning of the season anyway–before you request service from a heating oil service professional.
  4. Electrical /burning wire smells. Electrical smells coming from your furnace are typically a sign of overheating. If your furnace is cycling often (turning on and off) for no apparent reason, it may be your equipment protecting itself from a more substantial (and costly) breakdown. Give your furnace a rest for a few hours; if the problem begins again when you turn it on again, arrange for service.
  5. Mechanical smells. Worn out rubber and grinding metal parts will produce an odor that resembles electrical overheating. These smells can indicate a serious problem that needs immediate attention. Shut your heating system down and call for service.

The Air Filter on Your Heating Oil Furnace

If you had a heating tune-up done recently for your heating oil furnace, your technician started you off with a fresh, clean air filter. Moving ahead into the heating season, one way to help your furnace operate without any trouble is to change or clean your furnace’s air filter as often as the manufacturer recommends. In general, you should check the filter’s condition about once a month and change/clean it when necessary.

If your air filter gets clogged with dust and other debris, there is less room for air to flow through your system and through your home. Your furnace will need to work harder to circulate air, which will result in higher heating bills. Your home will also feel less comfortable and the indoor air quality will degrade. If neglected for too long, a dirty air filter can even result in your furnace shutting down.

If you think your heating oil furnace has seen better days and needs to be replaced, see what you can expect with a new furnace installation.

Why You Should Test Your Heating Oil System Now

Be Certain You Get Heat When You Need It Later

oilheat service wisconsin A lot of people look forward to the fall season. The heat and humidity disappear, multi-colored leaves line the streets and another holiday season creeps closer. Of course, this is also the time of year when you need to think about your heating system. It’s always a good idea to give it a test in early fall before you really need it.

If you adjust your thermostat to call for heat and nothing happens, try these steps to see if you can get your heating oil furnace or heating oil boiler to start generating heat again.

  • Make sure you have fuel in your tank.
  • Check to see if the power switch for the heating system is turned on.
  • Look for a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker.
  • Confirm that your thermostat is set above room temperature; check the batteries too.
  • Push the reset button on your oil burner—but not more than once or you may flood the system with oil.

Avoiding Running Out of Heating Oil

A common reason for people losing their heat is running out of heating oil. During the periods of extreme cold that is sure to come our way, check your heating oil tank level often. If it’s a very cold winter, chances are that you will burn about 20% more heating oil than normal.

It’s always best to start the heating season off with a full tank of heating oil. With a full tank, you won’t have to worry about being caught off guard by a sudden drop in temperature in late autumn or early winter.

Your heating oil company does not want you to run out! If you notice your oil tank level has reached the ¼ level, please contact your company so they can get a heating oil delivery to you as soon as possible.

If there’s a winter storm coming, your heating oil company will usually accelerate their delivery schedule to fit in extra deliveries ahead of time. However, they typically can only do that for automatic-delivery customers. If you don’t get automatic deliveries, please consider that option. This vastly reduces the chance of running out of oil.

Clearing Your Driveway

Just because your car can get in and out of your driveway after a snow storm doesn’t necessarily mean that fuel trucks can. Oil delivery vehicles need a 9-foot- to 10-foot-wide clear path in your driveway to allow enough room for maneuvering.

Your heating oil supplier cannot make a delivery if a driveway is not clear, so please make sure that this is done. Driveways need to be salted too. You should also maintain a clear path to your oil tank and fill pipe to make it easier for your delivery driver.

Count on Your Wisconsin Heating Oil Company

Here are a few ways that heating oil companies in the Badger State look after their customers.

  • When it’s cold, your heating oil company will have an ample supply of fuel on hand to make sure you stay warm.
  • Your company will be delivering cleaner and more efficient versions of heating oil, thanks to the development of ultra-low-sulfur heating oil and renewable Bioheat® fuel.
  • When it’s time to upgrade your heating system, your heating oil company can help secure rebates that could save you up to $1,200 on the new equipment.

Read about heating oil equipment rebates.

What is Bioheat® Fuel?

The Path to Net-Zero Carbon Emissions

bioheat fuel wisconsin Not only is today’s clean-burning heating oil environmentally friendly, it’s also become a vital part of America’s mission to achieve net-zero carbon emissions within the next few decades.

Advanced technology has already brought us Bioheat® fuel, which is a blend of ultra-low-sulfur heating oil and biodiesel. Biodiesel is made from various organic products, including vegetable oils, animal fats and even algae. New studies have shown the viability of using various grasses for the production of biodiesel as well.

Biodiesel is considered a biogenic fuel that reduces carbon 100%. By contrast, when fossil fuels that do not contain biodiesel are burned, they take carbon that was stored in the ground and put it back into the atmosphere.

In contrast, the combustion of biofuels and other biogenic energy sources actually recycles carbon dioxide emissions through renewable plant materials and other biomass feedstocks. That’s why you’ll be hearing a lot about net-zero carbon emissions and carbon-neutral fuel in the years ahead.

All of this is exciting news for Wisconsinites who appreciate the many benefits of using heating oil to stay safe and warm, but want to do their part to preserve our precious environment.

Bioheat Fuel Saves You Money

Bioheat fuel burns more cleanly and more efficiently than conventional heating oil. So, you’ll be using less fuel to get the same amount of warmth, and your heating system will last longer. You’ll also likely find that you need fewer repairs on your system. You may also be able to extend the time between system maintenance. All of this amounts to savings!

Renewable Biofuel Made in Wisconsin

Bioheat fuel is sourced and produced right here in the United States, supporting local farmers, local industries and local economies. The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industries now support about 65,000 U.S. jobs and more than $17 billion in economic activity each year.

The production process puts excess plant oil and animal fats to good use, diverting waste products from landfills. Food production is never sacrificed for fuel in the creation of Bioheat fuel.

Right here in our state, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has partnered with biogas producer Agra Energy to build a first-of-its kind commercial facility that will turn dairy farm waste into renewable biofuel. The facility, located at Dairyland Farm in New Franken, will use advanced technology to convert biogas waste into an estimated 750,000 gallons of renewable diesel and jet fuel annually.

What’s Next for Bioheat® Fuel?

The end game is to transition to B100 Bioheat fuel (100% biodiesel/biofuel). We’re seeing important progress in this direction. Shortly after the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) updated its standards to include burners that use B100 Bioheat fuel, the R.W. Beckett Corporation announced that it had begun production of fully warranted burners with B100-compliant components. Beckett is the country’s largest producer of heating oil burners. Additionally, the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) has demonstrated that a home heated with 100% biodiesel and using solar panels to produce electricity can reach net-zero carbon emissions quickly — and at an economically viable cost.

Read more about Bioheat fuel.

Factors That Influence Heating Oil Prices

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

oilheat prices wisconsin While your local Wisconsin heating oil company cannot control what happens with oil prices that are tied to the global market, we can give you some understanding about why heating oil prices rise and fall on a steady basis.

We need to start by looking at the price of crude oil, which is usually the most important factor in the price that consumers will pay for their heating oil. Like gasoline and jet fuel, heating oil is just one of the many products refined from crude oil. Crude oil is a globally traded commodity which means that it is subject to many forces that drive its value up or down. So, when crude oil prices are on the high end, so too are heating oil prices—along with gasoline, diesel fuel and many other products.

Fallout from the Russia-Ukraine War

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, energy prices were increasing in anticipation of sanctions on the Russian energy sector. Russia is the world’s third-largest petroleum and liquid fuels producer. It is also the second-largest producer of natural gas. As you can guess, any interruption of that massive supply causes major ramifications.

In fact, even the possibility of a big disruption in the vital energy supply chain heavily influences the buying and selling done by commodities traders. A Wall Street burst of trading activity before the Russian invasion caused energy prices to rise based on speculation in the stock market about what could happen in the near future if sanctions were imposed on Russia. This is often referred to as the fear factor.

After Russia eventually invaded, the U.S. and other countries placed bans on Russian imported oil and other energy products. It left a big void to fill. And as you know by now, energy prices soared even higher as a result.

Another Big Factor: Supply and Demand

Before the uncertainty created by the Ukraine war, oil prices had fluctuated because of COVID-19. In spring 2020, crude oil prices actually plummeted to historic lows when economies locked down across the globe. Oil production essentially ground to a halt.

Another supply-demand issue has centered on diminished refinery production. This came into the forefront when demand increased as COVID-19 cases decreased. Over the last several years, 5% of U.S. refinery capacity, along with 6% percent of European refinery capacity, has been shut down. A few refineries closed or scaled back because of the collapse in energy demand in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some older refineries were shut down because they were inefficient, and their profits weren’t large enough for Wall Street investors. Other refineries were closed so that their owners could convert them to produce biofuels.*

Seasonal Demand, Operating Costs and the Weather

In a brutally cold winter, prices often rise. Labor costs, transportation, and storage costs contribute to the price of heating oil just as they do for other businesses and industries. For example, when gasoline prices rise, heating oil suppliers must pay more both to get heating oil supplies delivered to them, and to fuel the trucks that deliver heating oil to their customers.

Take Comfort in Heating Oil for Your Wisconsin Home

While prices will always rise and fall, Wisconsin homeowners who rely on heating oil to keep warm will consistently get great value for their energy dollars. Here’s why.

Heating oil produces a tremendous amount of heating energy, providing both efficiency and comfort. For every gallon of heating oil consumed, nearly 140,000 Btu’s of heat are produced. That’s the equivalent of about 70,000 60-watt lightbulbs! It’s also far more heating energy than many other fuels can generate.

Technology has also brought great improvements in heating oil equipment efficiency, which has reduced annual fuel consumption by as much as 40%. Naturally, this has saved heating oil consumers a lot of money on fuel.

Plus, the continued growth of Bioheat fuel is making a big impact because this renewable, clean-burning fuel helps to increase heating oil system efficiency even more and reduces your home heating expenses, all while keeping homes warm and comfortable.

Read more about Bioheat fuel.

*Source: NY Times, 11-10-22

Bioheat® Fuel Vs. Traditional Heating Oil

Why Is Bioheat Fuel Better?

bioheat made in wisconsin Bioheat® fuel is one of the best ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the environment without sacrificing comfort or needing to undertake expensive, disruptive equipment replacements.

Bioheat fuel operates under the same principle as traditional heating oil. That’s why you can use it in existing home heating fuel systems without any modifications to your current heating equipment. But here’s the key difference: Bioheat fuel represents an enhanced eco-friendly alternative to conventional heating fuel.

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

Renewable Biodiesel

Bioheat fuel is a blend of renewable biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur heating oil. Biodiesel is a gallon-for-gallon replacement for petroleum fuel. Biodiesel is made from organic and recycled ingredients like:

  • used cooking oil
  • animal fats
  • inedible corn oil
  • soybean oil
  • canola oil
  • algae

Bioheat Fuel and Lower Emissions

Blended with ultra-low-sulfur heating oil, biodiesel is an excellent and practical way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Biodiesel is considered a biogenic fuel that eliminates carbon output. By contrast, when traditional fossil fuels that do not contain biodiesel are burned, they take carbon that was stored in soil and put 100% of that carbon into the atmosphere.

In contrast, the combustion of biofuels and other biogenic energy sources recycles carbon-dioxide emissions through renewable plant materials and other biomass feedstocks.

Bioheat fuel cuts harmful greenhouse gas emissions significantly because biodiesel achieves emissions reductions of at least 50% compared to petroleum. Using Bioheat fuel instead of traditional heating oil means reductions not only in carbon dioxide, but in sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and mercury.

The production process for Bioheat fuel has many benefits. It diverts waste products from landfills and puts them to good use. It also supports American farmers and biodiesel producers.

The production process puts excess oil and fats to good use. Food is never sacrificed for fuel in the production of Bioheat fuel.

Biodiesel (biofuel) is now being produced at more than 125 production plants around the country. Today, these facilities produce about three billion gallons of biodiesel each year.

Biofuel production isn’t just about achieving a cleaner environment. It’s about building a stronger economy too. The biodiesel industry supports nearly 60,000 jobs and generates billions of dollars in GDP, household income and tax revenues.

From Farm Waste to Biofuel—Right in Wisconsin

Right here in Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has partnered with biogas partner Agra Energy to build a first-of-its kind commercial facility that will turn dairy farm waste into renewable biofuel.

The $20 million facility, located at Dairyland Farm in New Franken, will use advanced technology to convert biogas waste into an estimated 750,000 gallons of renewable diesel and jet fuel annually.

Wisconsin is the ideal place for a facility to turn dairy manure into energy because it has an abundance of dairy farms.

UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said the initiative is in line with the university’s larger sustainability goals, which includes becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.

We want to be at the cutting edge of helping produce technologies that will move us away from the traditional fossil fuels,” Leavitt said.

Read more about Bioheat fuel.