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It’s One of the Latest Breakthroughs in Biofuel

biofuel news south carolinaModern heating oil is already one of the most eco-friendly home comfort fuels around today. And thanks to the advent of Bioheat® fuel — a blend of ultra-low sulfur heating oil and biofuel made from organic and recycled ingredients —we’re moving toward a future of net-zero carbon emissions.

The good news keeps on coming. Companies have been using advanced technology to convert woody fiber waste from lumber and paper mills into ethyl levulinate (EL). This can then be converted into an ultra-clean home heating product that replaces petroleum, gallon-for-gallon. Emitting zero greenhouse gas emissions EL, like Bioheat fuel, can be used safely with current home heating oil systems.

This is just one example of the quest to find more eco-friendly renewable liquid fuels. The continued growth of Bioheat fuel already results in a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions!

“Ethyl levulinate could be a game changer for the industry, delivering the comfort of heating oil and essentially eliminating greenhouse gas emissions,” said John Huber, president of the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA).

Bioheat fuel is being used today in homes across South Carolina. You can burn it in any oil-fired equipment without modification. It’s better for the environment and leaves fewer deposits, saving you money on maintenance!

Why Biofuel l Is Carbon Neutral

Transitioning to Bioheat fuel is a win-win situation: it’s been proven to reduce emissions because it is a low-carbon heating —and it doesn’t require any expensive system upgrades in your home.

The biodiesel, or biofuel, blend in Bioheat fuel is composed of various organic products, including vegetable oils, animal fats, and even algae. Besides the recent positive development of ethyl levulinate, studies have also shown the viability of using various types of grass for the production of biofuel.

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.

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

That’s why you’ll keep hearing a lot about net-zero carbon emissions in the years ahead. You can read more about Bioheat fuel here.

Program Has Won Grants to Increase Production

bioheat education south carolinaThe school buses in Richland School District will be using organic biofuel in the near future. But this biofuel won’t come from an industrial facility. It’s coming from a science lab in Blythewood High School!

Chemistry students at the school are learning how to process used cooking oil into non-petroleum diesel fuel. They’ve tested the fuel in the school’s tractors with the goal of using it in buses. This is the same kind of biofuel used in the clean-burning Bioheat® fuel that some South Carolina families use in their heating systems.

Blythewood’s program has been running for five years, but it’s now scaling up operations because of grants from the South Carolina Energy Office and Green Energy Biofuels. Funding will take it from producing 40 gallons per week to 150 gallons!

Chemistry teacher Will Epps started the program as a way to educate his students and help them enter Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers after graduating. Student response has been incredibly positive. They love the hands-on process and the fact that they’re helping reduce carbon emissions.

Refining Used Cooking Oil into Biofuel

Advanced heating fuels like Bioheat fuel combine ultra-low-sulfur heating oil and biofuel. One of the organic products used to make biofuel is used cooking oil.

To give you an example of the process, let’s take a look at local company Green Energy Biofuel, the company that has given its financial support to the program at Blythewood High School and has locations in Winnsboro, SC and Warrenville, SC.

Green Energy Biofuel collects used cooking oil in drop-off bins at local recycling centers. And in Charleston County, the local government has made the process even easier by distributing cooking oil disposal containers at eight county-operated convenience centers.

After collection, Green Energy Biofuel refines this used cooking oil to make its biofuel product, which is then blended with heating oil to create Bioheat® fuel!

Biofuel is a gallon-for-gallon substitute for petroleum-based fuels. Widespread regional use of Bioheat fuel annually prevents more than 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of removing 320,000 vehicles from the road.

Plus, homes that heat with energy-efficient Bioheat fuel use less energy overall. Right now, and in the years ahead, you should feel great about heating your South Carolina home with renewable heating oil. So, please remember to recycle your used cooking oil!

You can read more about Bioheat fuel here.

5 Tips for Saving Money on Heating & Cooling

energy saving south carolinaWith energy prices so high and inflation rates draining cash from our pockets every day, most people want to save money at home wherever they can.

The good news is that there are actually many easy yet important energy conservation methods that can add up to impressive savings over time. Here is a closer look at some of the steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency right now—and for years to come.

  1. Check your air filter on your heating and cooling system on a regular basis. A dirty air filter cuts airflow, causing your air conditioner or furnace to overwork (and you to overpay for energy). Check your HVAC air filter a few times during the cooling and heating seasons, replacing or cleaning it when needed. Check manufacturer’s guidelines for filter maintenance.
  2. Look to your windows. Lock the hot air out and hold the cool air in this summer by sealing windows. You’ll save money in the long run with this step, which you can accomplish with caulk for nonmoving parts and weatherstripping for moveable joints.

    During the cold months, keep curtains and shades open in sun-exposed rooms to absorb all that free heat and solar energy during the day, then close them at night to keep it in at night. Do the reverse in the summer by closing curtains and shades during the day to block solar heat. Smart window treatments can help manage solar energy throughout the year.

  3. If you’re looking for an all-weather, year-round solution, start using a smart programmable thermostat. Whether you’re away or just sleeping through the night, one of these devices will help you conserve energy and save on your bills. In fact, a smart programmable thermostat can cut up to 10% from your annual energy usage!

    In the spring and summer, the U.S. Energy Department recommends setting your central air conditioning system to 78°F when you’re at home. Program your A/C system to shut off 20-30 minutes before you leave home each day; return the temperature setting to normal comfort levels 20 to 30 minutes before you come home.

    In the winter, the optimal setting is 68°F when you’re at home. Dial it down toward the 60°F range when you’re asleep or out of the house. The temperatures you ultimately choose will depend on factors like the outdoor temperature and your family’s comfort preferences. Remember, these are just guidelines.

  4. Clear away any unnecessary items in front of your baseboards or vents. Whether there are pieces of furniture in the way, a too-thick rug, or assorted kids’ shoes and toys on the floor, you’ll want this area to be clear in order to make the most of your home’s energy usage. Finally, for safety’s sake, keep the area around your heating system as clean and clutter-free as possible. Never store anything flammable near your system.
  5. Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans work for your home throughout the year. The circulating air helps keep you and your home cool in the summer. In the winter, reversing the direction of the blades will push down warm air that’s trapped near the ceiling. That helps you use less heating oil while still keeping your home warm.

To learn about how you can positively impact your home’s energy efficiency through upgrades to systems like heating oil boilers and heating oil furnaces, please go here.

New Heating Oil Technology Helps You Save

hvac upgrade south carolinaIt’s no surprise that some people in the Palmetto State who use heating oil to keep their home warm may be thinking of switching their heating fuel to escape the stress of paying high heating oil delivery bills over the winter. Paying more for your heat is always a valid concern, especially when prices rise to painfully high levels.

But simply switching fuels is not a guarantee for savings. It’s important to understand that energy efficiency is driven by the technology of the heating system, not the type of fuel used in the home. An old system, no matter the fuel type, is going to be extremely inefficient compared to today’s technologically advanced equipment.

That’s why the Consumer Energy Council of America says it doesn’t make economic sense to switch fuels, and the better move is to upgrade to a new high-efficiency system of the same fuel. That’s because there are extra costs involved with a conversion that homeowners probably won’t recoup quickly enough.

Modern high-efficiency heating oil systems in well-insulated homes can help homeowners achieve the same amount of warmth while using much less fuel per year. This results in huge savings and reduces consumption considerably.

With the availability of heating oil equipment rebates, it is easier than ever to cut your annual heating fuel costs by upgrading to a high-efficiency heating oil furnace or boiler. Read more about replacing your equipment.

Oil Prices: What Goes Up, Must Come Down

It’s important to keep things in perspective when looking at heating oil prices. For the most part, the price of oil has been fairly stable since 2014. However, there have been a lot of changes over the past couple of years that have upended the energy markets, including the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

These events have had a negative effect on all energy prices, causing everything to go up. But if history is a guide, we can expect to see heating oil prices drop pretty significantly in the not-too-distant future.

While some market analysts expect heating oil prices to go lower by a fair amount over the next several months, the current high volatility in the commodity markets makes it extremely difficult to form accurate predictions.

But one of many problems right now is the reluctance of fuel suppliers to purchase their product in the current market because they don’t want to get stuck with the higher-priced product. This situation has led to supply concerns and caused prices to be artificially higher now. Adding to the uncertainty is that no one really knows for sure what will happen with the Ukraine war. The war is also causing a historic amount of diesel fuel to be shipped to Europe, which is impacting heating oil as well because diesel fuel and heating oil are pretty much the same things.

Stay with the Eco-Friendly Fuel

The heating oil industry recently committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The number of households that use blends of ultra-low-sulfur Bioheat® fuel are increasing in parts of the country and more blends are in development every day. Shorter-term goals include reaching a 15% reduction in carbon emissions by 2023, and a 40% reduction by 2030.

Stay with the Safe Heating Fuel

Being safe at home is just one of the many reasons people prefer to heat their home with oil. With everything that’s happening in the world today, the last thing you want is to feel unsafe at home.

For starters, heating oil cannot explode. The oil in your tank is as likely to explode as the water in your backyard swimming pool. It’s that safe.

Plus, with an oil tank on your property, you can always count on having a secure, on-site supply at your home. Heating oil is easily transported and handled by highly trained professionals, who use equipment and techniques that keep safety at the forefront.

Stay with Dependable Service

Most heating oil companies are locally-owned and locally-based. They’re proud to offer safe, reliable heating oil deliveries backed by friendly, personalized service.

Read more about the benefits of upgrading your furnace or boiler to a new, high-efficiency oil heating system. Then, contact your heating oil service contractor.

How Long Tanks Last and How They Have Improved

oil tanks south carolina Some things get better with age, but that’s not true for heating oil storage tanks. Oil storage tanks can last for many years, but like all equipment in your home, they will eventually wear out.

Specific life spans vary depending on the humidity, the thickness of the steel and more. And when tanks do fail, it’s hard to see it coming because they generally erode from the inside out.

As a general rule of thumb, if your fuel storage tank is more than 30 years old, you should consider replacing it.

Tank Inspections to Identify Problems

It’s a good idea to get regular, professional tank inspections done on your aboveground oil tank. You should also do your own visual inspections periodically because some trouble signs can be seen, including:

  • dime-sized blisters in the paint, commonly found on the tank’s underside (feel the underside to find them). They can be a sign of pending failure
  • pinhole leaks, which are caused by rusting from corrosion inside the tank

Other warning signs that your tank may need to be replaced:

  • sagging tank legs
  • clogs or restrictions in the fill cap or the vent cap
  • signs of spills

Here’s another reason for tank failure: condensation on the outside of the tank, long after a heating oil delivery. When there is a lot of empty space in an oil tank during the spring and summer, condensation can form along the inside walls. This turns into sediment later, and, if ignored, can result in corrosion.

TIP: To avoid condensation from forming, you should keep your oil tank full during the warm-weather months.

If you notice any trouble signs with your heating-oil storage tank, you should reach out to your local heating oil service contractor for assistance and advice.

Modern Heating Oil Storage Tanks

There have been big improvements in heating-oil tanks over the years. One of the most important is double-walled construction with an outside layer of corrosion-proof galvanized steel. This keeps the chance of a costly leak to a minimum. Other innovations include:

  • leak-detection systems
  • long-term warranties
  • sleek designs that allow the tank to fit into smaller spaces

To sum up, today’s aboveground oil storage tanks provide peace of mind and convenience—in addition to all the other benefits of heating your home with oil!

If you’re thinking about replacing your old oil tank, please read about South Carolina heating oil equipment rebates, which will save you money on your purchase.

Understanding the Energy Markets and Price Fluctuations

heating oil prices south carolinaGlobal 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.

This latest news seemed as if an unseen force somewhere was taking pleasure in piling on more misery for consumers already exhausted by two years of surviving a pandemic. 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 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.

So how did we get here and where are we going now?

Lagging Oil Supply

As 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.

What Comes Next?

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. And nothing will make your local 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.

Green Fuel for the Future Sees Local Growth

biodiesel south carolinaDid you know the vegetable oil you cook your meals in today could become part of the home heating solution of tomorrow? It’s true! And a forward-thinking company in the Palmetto State is helping.

Many South Carolina families toss their used cooking oil in the backyard. But that has a negative effect on plant growth and animal health. Fortunately, Green Energy Biofuel has a green alternative: collecting used cooking oil in drop-off bins at local recycling centers. In Charleston County, the local government has made the process even easier by distributing cooking oil disposal containers at eight county-operated convenience centers.

Green Energy Biofuel collects and refines this used cooking oil to make its biodiesel product, a key component for Bioheat® fuel. This renewable home heating oil is excellent for the planet. Plus, it lowers system maintenance and improves heating efficiency. Boilers and furnaces that burn Bioheat fuel see lower energy costs and fewer repairs.

A Green Future Powered by Heating Oil

With so much talk about eco-friendly energy, you might wonder about where home heating oil stands. Don’t worry. Not only is today’s heating oil environmentally friendly, it’s also a vital part of America’s movement toward net-zero carbon emissions.

Advanced heating fuels like Bioheat® fuel combine ultra-low-sulfur heating oil and biodiesel, composed of organic products like used cooking oil, tallow, fats and algae. Produced in the U.S, it is one of the cleanest-burning energy sources.

Biodiesel is a gallon-for-gallon substitute for petroleum-based fuels Widespread regional use of Bioheat annually prevents more than 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of removing 320,000 vehicles from the road.

Plus, homes that heat with energy-efficient Bioheat fuel use less energy overall. Right now, and in the years ahead, you should feel great about heating your South Carolina home with renewable heating oil!

Biodiesel Production Grows

Today, more than 125 production plants around the country make biodiesel. The United States biodiesel industry produces about three billion gallons of biodiesel now.

Increased 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.

You can read more about Bioheat fuel here.

How Low Can You Go and How Much Can You Save?

thermostat tips south carolinaOne common debate in households during this time of the year involves thermostat settings. How low can you go and how much can this save you on heat? With heating fuel prices at their highest levels in years, this is a debate worth having.

Of course, finding a balance between comfort and savings is not easy because every family has different comfort levels and each home has differences. With that said, here are general guidelines from the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE).

You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and setting it about 8°F lower while you’re asleep or away from home.

How Much You Can Save

According to the USDOE, the lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss. 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. Read more about this.

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.

Going too Low with Your Thermostat Causes Problems

When the temperature inside your house drops too low, the risk for frozen pipes goes up a lot. It’s generally recommended that you never set your thermostat below 60 °F, although some people prefer it to be a few degrees higher just to be on the safe side.

Keep in mind that 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 eventually burst, causing 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.

A second problem with setting the temperature too low is a buildup of condensation inside your home. Condensation occurs when moist air comes into contact with a cold surface; the cooler the air in your home is, the less moisture it can hold.

A buildup of condensation can damage your wood floors, furniture, and electronic equipment, so it’s definitely something you want to avoid.

Invest in a Smart Programmable Thermostat

An easy way to control your temperature settings is to install a smart programmable thermostat, which will help you keep temperatures low while you’re away (or sleeping) and higher while you’re at home. Why waste time adjusting your thermostat every day? Plus, you can remotely monitor your home’s temperature anytime and from anywhere with your mobile phone.

If you’re worried that your heating system will not keep you warm enough this winter, begin exploring your equipment replacement options. Then reach out to your local South Carolina heating oil service company or HVAC contractor for advice.

You May Get Your Heat Back by Yourself

no home heat south carolinaWhile there are many reasons your oil heating system will stop working, some problems happen more frequently. But if you know what to look for, you may be able to find the solution on your own.

Problems with power

If your heat stops working and you’ve made sure it is related to your house only—not a wide-scale power outage– your next step should be to check to see if the power switches to your boiler or furnace have been accidentally turned off.

If you find that power switches for your heating system have been turned off by mistake, simply turn the electrical switches back to the “on” position and your problem should be solved.

There is a power switch located on the side of the heating system or on a wall nearby. Farther away, there is an emergency switch with a red cover plate that is labeled. People will sometimes turn this switch off by mistake.

If your power switches are not the problem, check your circuit breaker box to see if all circuit switches are still in the “on” position. Flipping the proper switch to “on” again may be all you need to get your system running again.

However, a circuit breaker rarely ever trips for no reason. If this happens once and never happens again, it may be just a fluke. But if this happens more than once, call for service, as this could indicate a serious problem.

Thermostat check

Make sure your thermostat is set above room temperature and to HEAT. Check to see if you need new batteries too. Remember, it is the thermostat’s job to send a signal to your boiler or furnace to call for heat. But this signal may be interrupted if the wiring of the thermostat has begun to deteriorate. A build-up of dust inside your thermostat is another common reason why your thermostat is not operating correctly.

Maintenance Check

If you have a warm-air oil furnace, change or clean the filter on a regular basis during the heating season. A filter clogged with dust compromises efficiency and can cause your furnace to shut down.

If you have a hot water oil boiler, its automatic filling system should maintain the proper water level.

And of course, you should always schedule professional preventive maintenance so you don’t have to worry about your furnace or boiler breaking down during the winter. Regular service also improves efficiency, helping you to conserve fuel.

No Heating Fuel

If you call to order fuel, make sure you keep a close watch on your oil storage tank—especially during a cold snap. Don’t wait until your fuel level gets too low. It’s recommended that you call when your oil tank is about one-quarter full.

To save time and worry, ask your heating oil company about programs that have been designed to significantly lower your chances of running out of fuel, such as automatic delivery.

Time for a reset

If all else has failed, press the red reset button on the oil burner. The reset button is a safety control that shuts the burner down if a problem is detected. If your system doesn’t start after you push the reset button the first time, do not push it again. Pushing this button more than once can flood your system with oil, resulting in a costly repair.

If the burner starts but stops again after a few minutes, you should call for service.

Last Step: Call for Service

If you still can’t get heat after all of these steps, it’s time to call in a professional to find and fix the problem.

If you’re losing your heat too many times, you may want to look into replacing your old oil furnace or oil boiler with a new, high-efficiency heating oil system. please go here and then contact your local heating oil company.

safe heating oil south carolinaHeating oil has been keeping families warm through tough winters for almost a century. That’s a testament to its impressive ability to provide consistent, efficient heat for as long as needed. That’s a lot to feel good about it, but it gets better when you consider the safety benefits of using oil to heat your home.

Let’s start with the fuel itself. Heating oil cannot burn in its liquid state. It takes an advanced high-tech burner to ignite the oil. Before combustion can occur, heating oil must first be vaporized by your oil burner at temperatures above 140°. Heating oil also cannot explode. That’s why the fuel stored in your tank is very safe. In fact, if you drop a lit match into a bucket of heating oil, the flame would go out just as if you dropped the match into water.

Oil storage tanks: safer than ever

Designed with corrosion-resistant materials, today’s double-walled oil storage tanks can last for decades. Plus, new technology allows for remote monitoring to protect against the rare event of a leak and guarantees that you will always have a sufficient supply of heating oil on hand. While older, single-wall steel oil tanks were also durable, they were susceptible to internal corrosion, a problem that led to tank failures.

Low risk for carbon monoxide

If an oil burner goes out of adjustment, it will produce smoke – a visible warning that service is needed. If your oil furnace is producing black smoke or soot, you should contact your heating oil service provider right away. Even though the chance of carbon monoxide poisoning is low in an oilheated home, it’s important to have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and to know the telltale symptoms of CO poisoning, which includes headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.

Maintenance: another key to safety

As is the case with any other home energy source, the key to keeping your oil heating system operating safely is to get annual preventive maintenance from a licensed heating expert every year. During a service visit, an oilheat technician will perform tests to make sure your heating equipment is working correctly; if he spots a potential safety or performance issue, he’ll take care of it right away.

Heating oil – the best and safest way to heat your South Carolina home! To learn more about all of the benefits of oilheat, click here.