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It’s Heating Up: Biofuel

Bioheat is a little oil, a little animal fat.

My home uses oil heat. I’ve got a 550 gallon tank that’s sitting in the ground. It’s the same age as my house, so it’s old and partially filled with sludge, turning a 550 gallon tank into a 475 gallon tank. (And yes, I know we need to do something about that.) Even with the reduced capacity, filling it costs a small fortune. During the winter we need to take a delivery every two months. September, November, January, and once more in March. Then we’re good until September. Crazy, right? And that’s with an EnergyStar boiler and burner, and us keeping the thermostat at 66 or 67, depending on the time of day.

Yesterday I went to take a shower. I had cold water. Sigh. We were out of oil. Since the tank is underground, we can use a measuring stick every so often, but every once in a while it runs out of oil before we can get the oil guys here. When I screamed downstairs that I had cold water, my husband called our regular oil company. (Since our boiler and burner are newish and oil has been so expensive, we don’t have a contract so we can buy spot oil at the cheapest price.) The company was completely sold out for the day by 10 a.m. Crazy. So we started calling around. Chris found a new company that better suits our Natural as Possible life. The company is called Timms. He found it by accident doing a low price search. For $2.25 per gallon as of today, Timms is going to deliver Bioheat oil — also called biofuel — to our home. And, they tell us, at the end of the year, New York State is going to send us a rebate for $.20 per gallon, so it’s going to cost us $2.05 per gallon to fill our tank. Not bad!

So just what is biofuel? According to the official site of the National Biodiesel Board, Bioheat fuel is “the industry-accepted term for any blend of pure biodiesel blended with conventional high or low sulfur home heating oil, a minimum of 2%.” Basically, they mix traditional heating oil with vegetable oils and animal fats. It’s designed to burn clean. And with no discernible difference from traditional heating oil. Again, according to the site: “Bioheat fuel appears to have little or no negative impact on a burner’s performance while providing emissions, sulfur, lubricity, global warming and health benefits.” The only difference between traditional oil and Bioheat is that it should be used within six months of delivery. With the cold winter we have here in New York, that shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m looking forward to making this change. (I wonder if I can use it for February’s One Small Change?) I’ll let you know how it works out. In the meantime, if you want to see if your local oil carrier sells biofuel, you can check out this link. Look for the Find a Dealer link. And while you’re at it, why not see if you qualify for a rebate check, too? You can search DSIRE, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, which tracks both federal and state incentives, to find out if you qualify.

Have you ever tried biofuels? Is it something that’s even on your radar? Or are you still skeptical about the topic? Let’s hear it!

One Response to “It’s Heating Up: Biofuel”

  1. Shari says:

    It has cost me $800 to fill my oil tank at times. Let me know how this goes, and I would be interested to look into it myself.

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