The Governor's Energy Office's weekly heating-fuel price survey on Monday, September 8, found the current statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $3.38 per gallon, a six-cent drop since early August, and the lowest price since July 2013. The average statewide price for kerosene, $3.91 per gallon, has increased slightly in the last month, but dropped significantly this summer. Propane prices have remained steady over the last month, remaining at $2.85 per gallon (for heating customers).

One year ago, in early September, heating oil averaged $3.56 per gallon; kerosene, $3.98; and propane, $2.70.

Using this week's average heating-oil price ($3.38), and converting to a common heating-unit value (million Btu), the price of fuel oil is $24.37, compared with an equivalent heating-unit value for natural gas of $14.50 (at $1.45/therm); propane, $31.20 (at $2.85/gallon); kerosene $28.96 (at $3.91/gallon); wood pellets, $14.67 (at $242/ton); cord wood, $11.36 (at $250/cord) and electricity, $43.96 (at 15 cents per kWh).

Those comparitive 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. ETS offers savings by utilizing off-peak electric rates, available in many areas of the state. Cold-climate heat pumps, a recent technological advancement, are much more efficient than baseboard electric heat, so total energy costs are lower than with many other types of heating fuels.

The Energy Office has a calculator on its website 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 should be noted 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 that average. Within the Energy Office sample for the week ending September 8, the highest heating-oil price ($3.88) was found in the southwest part of the state, and the lowest heating oil price ($3.08) was also recorded there, as well as in the eastern and western parts of the state. The average price in central Maine was $3.45 per gallon. 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.