Heating oil and propane prices are expected to remain at current levels for the foreseeable future, according to a recent EIA report (US Energy Information Administration, Mar 6, 2012). Heating fuel prices are primarily driven by crude oil prices, and the EIA expects crude oil prices to remain above $100 a barrel in 2012-2013.
What Affects Heating Oil and Propane Prices?
The prices of heating oil and propane are primarily driven by crude oil. Extreme weather, seasonal demand, and supply disruptions can also affect short-term heating oil and propane prices.
What Will Affect 2012 Crude Oil Prices?
There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the future of oil prices, because there are so many factors that can affect supply and demand.
These events will likely lead to lower 2012 crude oil prices:
These events will likely lead to higher 2012 crude oil prices:
• Lower predictions for global economic growth and therefore lower oil demand
• China’s economic growth rates decrease
• The European debt crisis does not get resolved or gets worse
• Conflicts in Africa and the Middle East get resolved in 2012 and oil supply increases (e.g. Yemen, Syria, Sudan and Iran)
• Higher than expected world economic growth
• Decrease in oil supply from African and Middle Eastern countries due to conflict or economic sanctions (e.g. Yemen, Syria, Sudan and Iran)
• Global economies improve more quickly than expected and oil demand increases
• The European debt crisis is resolved in 2012 and European countries increase their demand for oil
Being responsible for heating your home with heating oil or propane for the first time can be daunting. There is a lot to consider not only when choosing a heating oil or propane supplier, but also after you’ve chosen the supplier. Here are some things to consider as a first time heating oil or propane user:
The Right Supplier
Choosing the right heating oil or propane supplier is important to your home comfort. You want a reliable, efficient and friendly provider to heat your home and to be there when you need them the most. And, you want a heating oil or propane provider to give you a wide range of options, anything from price protection plans to service. Be sure to consider these important questions when choosing the right supplier:
Are they reputable and have they been in business a long time?
Do they have flexible payment options?
Do they offer a price protection or cap program?
Do they offer expert heating equipment installation, service and service plans?
Do they have 24/7 emergency repair?
Do they have enough people to ensure that your covered no matter what your need?
Some homeowners choose to be on an automatic delivery plan. This means your heating company calculates how much heating oil or propane you need based on the outside temperature and previous usage. Using this method, the heating provider is able to get a good idea of when you need to be filled up again. Automatic delivery is the hands off approach to heating oil or propane deliveries.
The alternative to automatic delivery is “will call”. With this option, you have to monitor your heating oil or propane levels and call your heating company to schedule a delivery when you need more heating fuel. This approach is good for people who want to control their deliveries. If you choose will call, be careful not to run yourself out of fuel. There are additional costs to get you running again.
CAP Plans and Price Protection Plans
In the U.S. and Canada, many heating providers offer plans that allow you to fix or cap your heating oil or propane price for the entire heating season. With these plans, you’ll need to sign a contract with your heating provider for a specific amount of heating oil or propane. CAP plans and price protection plans are good for homeowners who want to know exactly what they’ll pay or the maximum they’ll pay for their heating costs throughout the heating season. Knowing your costs will allow you to budget your heating expenses.
There are differences between the plans offered in Canada and the U.S. It’s important to do your homework on what might be best for you.
Service Plans and Maintenance
A service plan is like insurance for your heating equipment. If something breaks down or needs replacing, it could cost you hundreds of dollars if you’re not covered by a service plan. Irving offers multiple service plans, and each provides a different amount of coverage. A service plan covers your equipment for a year, and it can be paid in monthly payments. Be sure to take a minute to reviewIrving’s heating oil and propane service plans.
If you think a service plan might not be for you, keep in mind that your heating equipment needs routine maintenance to keep it running smoothly and reliably. Having your system break down in the middle of winter could literally leave you out in the cold.
The rule of thumb is you should have your system cleaned and inspected every year. During your system’s annual maintenance, your heating technician will let you know if there is any issues with your system. Remember, an annual cleaning and inspection is covered under most service plans.
You should familiarize yourself with proper usage and precautions to take with your home heating. Don’t hesitate to contact your heating provider if you have any questions. And, be sure to check out more information on heating oil safety or propane safety.
Knowing when it’s the right time to replace your furnace isn’t always straightforward. There usually aren’t a lot of external signs to look for. But here are some things that may help you decide if it’s the right time to replace your furnace:
A 20 year old furnace is on the far end of its average life expectancy. And, this may be the perfect time to invest in a new heating system, especially if you have to constantly pay for costly repairs. The age of a furnace is one of the major reasons homeowners purchase a new one. Please note that a poor furnace may break down before the end of its expected life. It’s always best to get your furnace cleaned and inspected each year to make sure everything is running properly.
Efficiency and Savings
The more efficient your furnace, the more heat you get for every dollar you spend. Older furnaces tend to have a lower efficiency than newer furnaces. The less efficient your furnace, the higher your heating bills are likely to be.
On average, our heating technicians see efficiencies in the 60% range, with 67% being the most common efficiency rating they see. Fortunately for homeowners, modern furnaces have become far more efficient with the help of new technology. Newer heating oil furnaces see efficiencies above 80%. Propane furnaces can see the efficiency rating go up to about 94%. Replacing a poorly-performing furnace can translate into hundreds of dollars of savings every year on heating oil or propane, depending on how much you use.
Your current furnace may be too big for what you need in your home, especially if you recently made your home more energy efficient. A properly sized furnace should be running at peak efficiency during the winter. An oversized furnace will never come up to peak efficiency, potentially costing you more money.
If you’re constantly making costly repairs to your furnace, it may make sense to replace your system rather than suffer through another costly heating season. And you certainly don’t want to have to worry about your furnace breaking down in the middle of winter.
Additionally, if your furnace hasn’t been properly maintained, wear and tear can reduce the efficiency of the system. This will lead to higher costs in heating oil or propane.
You’ve decided to purchase a new furnace or heating system, but what things should you look for in your new furnace? As a homeowner, here are the big things to consider:
The efficiency of your new furnace is a very important consideration because the higher the efficiency, the less fuel will be required to heat your home. Efficiency is measured by the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), which measures the furnace’s overall energy performance. The higher the AFUE, or efficiency, the more heat you’ll get for every dollar you spend.
The increased energy savings from a high efficiency furnace over a low efficiency furnace will usually allow you to recover the cost of the new furnace in as little as 6 years. And, a high-efficiency furnace runs quieter and makes your house more comfortable since it can maintain a more constant household temperature. Look for models with an Energy Star® label; this means the furnace has an efficiency rating of 90% or higher for propane and 85% or higher for heating oil.
An important consideration is whether the furnace is the right size for your home. Your new furnace should be big enough, but not overly large. A furnace that is too large will not heat your home better, and it may be less efficient and wear out more quickly than a properly-sized furnace. Your local heating professional will be able to advise you on what is best for your area and for your home.
Installation and Ductwork
There are many factors to consider with the proper installation of a furnace. You should make sure to do your homework and be sure to hire a qualified and reputable heating professional. One thing that people often overlook is that the rest of the system needs to work well with the furnace you select. For example, you need to ensure that the ductwork throughout your house has to be the proper fit for your furnace. If it is not, then the furnace won’t heat your home efficiently.
If you have any questions regarding a new furnace, then be sure to contact an Irving heating expert online, or call us at 1.888.310.1924 – we’re here to help.
“We have had many sleepless nights because of our furnace – it has been a nightmare since we moved into our house in February 2008. Although it tries to be strong and mighty in its old age, it has seen far better days!
My husband and I are a newlywed couple – married in September 2010 and hope to start a family very soon. How can we have little ones crawling around with the constant worry of what the furnace may or may not do?? How can we get what little sleep we will be able to manage worrying about what the decrepit beast in the basement may or may not be capable of??
As you can see from our photo our furnace is in amongst a snake field of pipes, wires, and fire hazard. We might actually worry about a fire happening if it wasn’t for the constant leaking of water from every pipe and crevice! Water pours out of it at times; we regularly have to shop-vac it up. We would absolutely love to buy a new furnace, but unfortunately it’s the last thing we can afford right now. Please help us!”