We’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions oilheat consumers in the Hudson Valley have about preparing for a delivery, checking the tank level, avoiding run-outs, and more.
If you have a heating oil tank in your basement, you’ll 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.
After the driver arrives, he connects the hose from his oil truck to the fill pipe and starts releasing 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 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 is not working.
On top of the heating oil 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.
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 supplier and let them know. The last thing you want to do is to start guessing how much oil is left in your tank.
To make winter deliveries easier and stress-free for you, ask your heating oil company if they offer automatic delivery. This allows them to be accurate about your fuel needs so they can make a heating oil delivery and you can continue to feel warm and safe using oilheat at home.
But if you still prefer to call for heating oil, you need to give your supplier 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.
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;
You can help the driver make safer deliveries by keeping the path to your oil tank clear of snow and ice and removing any nearby obstacles, such as fallen branches.
It is also important to shovel or plow your driveway and keep it free of ice. Safety codes prohibit your heating oil company from parking an oil truck on an incline unless it is perfectly dry. Just because you can get your car down your driveway doesn’t mean a 15-ton heating oil truck can make it too.
Marking the edges of your driveway also makes it easier for delivery drivers to navigate.
Please reach out to your Hudson Valley heating oil company if you have any questions about heating oil delivery. If you think your tank may be wearing out, read about replacement options for your heating oil tank.
People who live in the Hudson Valley are probably more familiar with Bioheat fuel than other areas of the country. That’s because many families throughout the Hudson Valley region already rely on Bioheat fuel to keep their homes warm!
As you’ve probably heard, Bioheat fuel is one of the best tools 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 traditional heating oil? Well, Bioheat fuel basically works the same as traditional heating oil. You can use it in existing home heating fuel systems without modification. But here’s the key difference: Bioheat fuel represents an enhanced eco-friendly alternative to conventional heating fuel.
You 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. It has the highest Btu content of any alternative fuel!
Bioheat fuel is a blend of renewable biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur heating oil. Biodiesel is a gallon-for-gallon replacement for petroleum fuel. It’s made from organic and recycled ingredients like:
Blended with ultra-low-sulfur heating oil, biodiesel is an excellent and practical way to reduce carbon emissions.
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 in the following emissions:
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. Bioheat fuel is sourced and produced right here in the United States, supporting local farmers, local industries and local economies.
Bioheat fuel has a significant advantage over other green home heating products: it’s available right now and is currently offered by heating oil retailers. It’s heating both homes and water across the nation as we speak — all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The overall goal is to transition to even higher levels of Bioheat fuel, which will further reduce our carbon footprint and actually turn heating oil into a carbon-neutral energy source.
During a meeting at the Northeast Industry Summit a few years ago, the entire Northeast heating oil industry resolved to achieve a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2023, a 40% reduction by 2030, and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
We are well on our way along the road to a carbon-neutral future! By 2030, it’s estimated that biodiesel will displace 529 million gallons of heating oil.
Bioheat fuel is readily available here and remember, it requires no modifications to your existing system. You can enjoy all of its benefits right now with your next heating oil delivery. Learn more about the benefits of Bioheat fuel.
While heating fuel prices seem to be on a slow downward trend, many homeowners remain concerned about how much heating oil they will use this winter—and how much it will cost them in the long run.
While there are many variables that affect fuel usage—including outdoor temperatures, the quality of insulation in your home, the efficiency of your furnace or boiler and your family’s own heating preferences, there are general guidelines that can help you estimate how much heating oil you can expect to use.
Here is an example. If outdoor temperatures average about 32° over a 24-hour period, a typical 2,500-square-foot house will burn about six or seven gallons of heating oil per day.
So, if temperatures are right around the freezing mark and you have a quarter of a tank of oil left in your 275-gallon tank, you’ll have enough oil to last about a week. This is why you should call for your heating oil delivery when your tank gets no lower than one-quarter full, especially during cold weather.
Remember: it’s always better to be conservative and order your heating oil early rather than getting stuck in a no-heat emergency because your tank came up empty. The best way to avoid these risks and hassles altogether? Ask your heating oil supplier about automatic heating oil delivery service, which frees you from the task of always checking the fuel level in your oil storage tank because you’re worried about running out.
Even if you’re a long-time heating oil consumer, it never hurts to review the basics of reading the heating oil tank gauge, especially in preparation for winter. Here are three key points.
Why not take care of filling your oil tank now so you don’t have to be worry about it later—when everyone is asking for fill-ups? Contact your heating oil supplier today to request a delivery—or ask about the availability of automatic delivery for your heating oil.
Read more about heating oil storage tanks.
It won’t be long before we’re “cranking up” the heat again in our Hudson Valley homes. At the beginning of the heating season, local heating oil companies field a lot of calls from anxious customers worried about noises they hear after their oil furnace or oil boiler starts operating.
As with any piece of equipment, many of the sounds you will hear from your heating system are perfectly normal, especially when it starts and stops operating.
Let’s put the focus on furnaces first. A furnace refers to the heating unit in a warm-air, or forced-air, system. After the air is heated in the furnace, a blower forces it through ducts. The warm air is then released through vents or registers in your home.
To help you distinguish between minor and major problems with your warm-air furnace, here’s a list of common sounds you may hear. These are general guidelines provided solely for educational purposes. A correct diagnosis can only be made after a system inspection by a heating oil service professional.
A lot of folks in the Hudson Valley have a hot water (hydronic) system. To deliver heat to your home, water circulates around your boiler’s combustion chamber. A circulator pumps the hot water through pipes to heat baseboards or radiators. Eventually, the water returns to the unit to begin the cycle again.
Steam boiler systems work similarly except they generate steam, which rises up to radiators (no circulators are needed). A low water cut-off shuts down the boiler if water levels drop too low, preventing boiler damage
A noisy boiler can be a fairly common problem for people who have a closed loop hot water boiler. Similar to a radiator in your car, your boiler is filled with water. But if air leaks into the system, the pressure rushes through the pipes. This results in a banging noise.
Why does this happen? Air can be drawn into the system in several different ways. This includes a defective valve, a broken bleed screw, a pressure leak, or previous repairs done to piping.
Another possibility is a problem with the expansion tank. Because water expands when heated and contracts when cooled, extra space is needed to store air. This is called an expansion tank. But air can be drawn back into the boiler from this device.
If you have any concerns about the operation of your heating system, please get in touch with a heating oil service professional and request a heating system inspection.
Did you know that you can qualify for rebates when you install a new oil furnace or oil boiler? Read more about heating oil equipment rebates in the Hudson Valley.
There is no longer any doubt that Bioheat fuel represents a smart solution for the delivery of a better, clean-burning fuel for your home and our environment. With awareness—and curiosity–growing about this remarkable, renewable fuel, we’ve tried to answer the most common questions we’ve been hearing from oil heat consumers in the Hudson Valley.
Bioheat fuel is a blend of ultra-low sulfur heating oil with renewable biodiesel that’s made from organic and recycled products. These products can range from soybean oil, used cooking oils, and inedible corn oil to canola, tallow, fats, and algae.
These renewable products are defined as feedstocks for producing biodiesel. Blends of biodiesel in heating oil are designated in percentages. For example, a 5% blend of biodiesel is defined as B5. B10 refers to a 10% blend, while B20 is a 20% blend.
Yes. Bioheat fuel burns more cleanly and more efficiently than conventional heating oil. So, you’ll be using less heat 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 services. All of this amounts to savings!
No. Biofuel is a broad term that can include various products including not only biodiesel, but ethanol, renewable hydrocarbon diesel, and raw vegetable oil known as RVO or LR100. It’s important to note that raw vegetable oil does not meet industry specifications; it is not biodiesel or Bioheat fuel and it is not suitable for home heating oil use.
Yes. Bioheat fuel is domestically made and helps our economy by helping meet our nation’s energy needs without incurring the cost of new land use or drilling, or paying premium prices for imported fuels.
The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry now support about 65,000 U.S. jobs and more than $17 billion in economic activity each year.
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. Expect those numbers to get even more impressive as biodiesel takes us farther along the road to clean energy.
No. Most major heating system manufacturers accept Bioheat fuel as covered under their warranties for use, and you won’t need to make any changes to your furnace, boiler, or oil storage tank to use it. Performance standards for Bioheat fuel have been approved by ASTM International, an organization that sets industry standards for fuels and lubricants.
Bioheat® fuel is an affordable home energy source that’s making an impact right now on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for our climate. Its efficiency and cleanliness are leading us on a bright path to a carbon-neutral future that is not too far away.
Here’s just one example of how Bioheat fuel is making an impact. Just two heating oil retailers in New England displaced nearly 1.5 million gallons of heating oil with approved Bioheat fuel in the first half of 2020. Doing this resulted in an 80% reduction in GHG emissions, compared to traditional heating oil.
For the heating oil industry to achieve its stated 2023 goal of 15% fewer emissions, the standard Bioheat fuel blend will need to be in the 20% range. There are already many heating oil companies in the Northeast that are delivering Bioheat fuel at this level. Some are even delivering blends as high as 50% (B50 Bioheat SuperPlus™ fuel)
Thanks to research and development being spearheaded by the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), heating oil is being made more cleanly and efficiently than before.
The overall goal is to transition to even higher levels of Bioheat fuel, which will further reduce the carbon footprint and actually turn heating oil into a carbon-neutral energy source.
During a meeting at the Northeast Industry Summit in 2019, the entire Northeast heating oil industry resolved to achieve a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2023, a 40% reduction by 2030, and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The biodiesel that’s blended with ultra-low sulfur heating oil to create Bioheat fuel is a gallon-for-gallon substitute for petroleum-based fuels, which have a higher carbon intensity. By 2030, it’s estimated that biodiesel will displace 529 million gallons of heating oil.
Biodiesel, a non-toxic, degradable renewable liquid fuel, is generally produced from agricultural byproducts, including used cooking oil, animal fats, inedible corn oil, soybean oil and canola oil.
This puts excess oil and fats to good use. Food is never sacrificed for fuel in the production of Bioheat fuel. Bioheat fuel is also sourced and produced right here in the United States, supporting local farmers, local industries and local economies.
Bioheat fuel is readily available now through local retail oil companies and it requires no modifications to your existing system.
The bottom line: in the Hudson Valley, we are well on our way along the road to a carbon-neutral future!
To learn more about the benefits of Bioheat fuel, please go here.
Much like your car, regular preventive maintenance goes a long way in extending the lifespan of your heating oil equipment, including oil-powered boilers. But even the best-maintained heating equipment eventually wears out.
You will then reach a point where repairs will cost more than they’re worth since an old boiler will continue to have low fuel-efficiency – along with poor performance and a greater chance for further breakdowns.
So how do you determine whether to repair or replace your oil boiler? Here are some guidelines.
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.
Is your old boiler keeping you warm enough? A properly working oil boiler should keep you comfortable even on the coldest Hudson Valley nights, but a boiler’s operating performance diminishes with the passage of time.
If you also 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.
There are two types of boilers: a steam boiler, often found in older homes, and the modern, and more energy-efficient, hot water boiler. Steam boilers require special safety precautions because of the temperature of the steam (the water must be heated to 212°F). As a result, it is vitally important to follow a regular maintenance schedule.
Your boiler extracts heat from heating oil as it burns; this heats the water (or creates steam) that will run through the zones that are calling for heat. The heat is delivered through your radiators or baseboards.
The problem is that some heat (as much as 30% in some older boiler models) will be lost as exhaust, which means you are paying a lot of money for heat that will never reach your living space.
In a high-efficiency condensing boiler, heat loss is reduced dramatically. By recycling heat from the exhaust process – and by operating at lower temperatures overall – your condensing boiler can improve operating efficiency by 10-15% compared to a non-condensing boiler.
So why aren’t all boilers condensing, considering their obvious efficiency advantages? For one thing, condensing boilers cost more to manufacture. Plus, a condensing boiler is not practical for all homes. What’s more, installing a condensing boiler correctly requires highly trained technicians who know how to capitalize on the efficiency benefits of these sophisticated machines.
By upgrading to a new oil boiler, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the great benefits of oilheat—now and in the future.
Besides better, more efficient equipment, there have been significant improvements in the quality of heating oil itself. This is due to the vast reduction of the sulfur content in heating oil and blending it with renewable biodiesel. Known as Bioheat® fuel, this fuel contains biodiesel that is composed of various organic products, including vegetable oils, animal fats, and even algae and various grasses.
Why will this reduce carbon emissions? Biodiesel is considered a biogenic fuel that reduces carbon by 100%. By contrast, when fuels that do not contain biodiesel are burned, they take carbon that was stored in the ground and put it back into the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, the combustion of biofuels and other biogenic energy sources recycle 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 in the years ahead. You can read more about Bioheat fuel here.
If you’re ready to explore new heating system options for your home, reach out to your local heating oil service company and be sure to ask about saving money on new heating oil equipment with New York State rebates.
The key to saving energy and money at home is improving efficiency! And when it comes to improving the energy efficiency of your heating system, one of the best things you can do is schedule an annual heating system tune-up with your equipment service provider.
Tune-ups (sometimes called “system cleanings”) are typically recommended once a year. Not only do they ensure that your heating oil system is running properly, but this preventive maintenance will also ensure that the system is operating at peak efficiency. In fact, a tune-up can help reduce heating oil usage by up to 10%!
Proper and regular maintenance by a professional heating oil technician helps your home heating system operate more efficiently, saving you on energy costs and helping to avert costly repairs. Following a proper maintenance schedule can also keep your equipment warranty in force and can extend the life of your heating system too.
Why put this on your “to-do” list right now? Scheduling your heating oil system maintenance before autumn arrives makes sense for a few reasons.
When the first hint of fall foliage appears, it’s the beginning of the busy season for your local Hudson Valley heating oil service provider. Their schedule is quickly filled with requests for heating oil deliveries, emergency repairs, and heating system tune-ups from people who have delayed getting their equipment maintenance done. You may find it difficult to get your tune-up service done at a time that’s convenient for you.
On the other hand, your heating oil service provider’s schedule is much more open at this time of year. That means you can more easily schedule your tune-up for a time that works for you.
Annual maintenance is important because your professional heating oil technician can discover small problems before they become bigger and more costly problems. When you schedule your tune-up in the spring or summer, your technician has more time and flexibility to get any repairs done—without the need to rush off to someone else’s no-heat emergency.
If you noticed anything out of the ordinary this past winter with your heating system – like one of these telltale signs for a heating repair– contact your equipment service provider as soon as possible to get your system evaluated.
If you have an old system that is not as reliable as it was before and you’re tired of spending money on repairs, you should start researching your options for replacing your equipment.
This is especially important if the age of your heating system is 25 years old or older. That’s because just like any other piece of equipment around the home, systems will eventually deteriorate and require replacement.
If you’re ready to explore new heating system options for your home, reach out to your local heating oil service company and ask about saving money on new heating oil equipment with New York State rebates.
Heating oil prices in New York—and everywhere else—will always ebb and flow because many factors come into play. Everything from supply and demand to the weather to geopolitics can influence the markets and the cost of all energy, including heating oil. And, as you probably already know, the war between Russia and Ukraine has had a tremendous effect on all energy prices.
It’s important to point out, however, that for the most part, the price of oil has been fairly stable since 2014. But there have been a lot of changes over the past year that have upended the markets. You can view the history of heating oil prices in New York over the past 25 years by going here.
Global 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.
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 seemingly 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.
As was noted before, global crude oil production hasn’t yet caught up with pent-up demand. Unfortunately, a simplified and misinformed solution to the production shortfall that’s regularly offered up by some pundits and politicians in the U.S. is that, “we just have to drill for more oil at home.”
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 of Bioheat® fuel.
Another factor influencing oil companies is the memory of the breathtaking fall of crude oil prices during the early days of the pandemic. In the Spring of 2020, crude oil prices fell all the way to negative $30 per barrel! Traders had to pay buyers to take oil! Since then, however, prices have been steadily rising before they exploded in late February after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Could they drop that far again? Well, by mid-March, crude oil prices had begun to fall–but quickly took a U-turn and went up again as the situation in Ukraine remained unstable and the call for boycotts of Russian energy products picked up steam.
To say that we are currently in the midst of an extremely volatile energy market could be viewed as an understatement.
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 New York.
Rest assured, your Hudson Valley heating oil supplier will do everything possible to ensure they can make deliveries—no matter the cost or difficulty they face.
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 Hudson Valley 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.
While spring is not too far away, we all know from experience that it’s way too soon to pack away our winter yet. No matter what the calendar says, we’ve seen plenty of chilly springs here in the Hudson Valley.
So, if it’s been a while since you’ve had your heating oil boiler or furnace checked by a technician, start thinking about arranging for spring maintenance service.
Regular equipment maintenance is a vital money-saving investment for heating systems– not just because it can keep your equipment running safely and at peak efficiency, but also because four out of five heating system breakdowns are preventable if you follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations.
A tune-up service also allows your heating oil technician to spot minor issues before they become big problems (worn parts, a burner that needs adjustment, etc.)
If you’ve noticed any problems with your system this winter, please don’t ignore it. These are most likely “red flags” alerting you to the need for professional service.
Here are just a few examples.
Here are a few sounds and the possible cause. Note: a correct diagnosis can only be made with an onsite visit by our service technician.
If you are experiencing problems or have questions about reducing your heating costs or simply using energy around your home in smarter ways, please get in touch with your local Hudson Valley Bioheat® fuel company and they’ll be glad to help.