Here are answers to your commonly asked questions. If you don't see what you're looking for or if you have specific questions, please feel free to contact us.
A heating oil flame is hotter than a natural gas flame, so heating oil systems heat homes and hot water more quickly, and you are more comfortable. That's why heating oil provides the best comfort value of any fuel on the market.
One gallon of heating oil produces over 130,000 BTUs (British thermal units, the standard measure for home heating), whereas one thermo unit of natural gas produces just over 100,000 BTUs, meaning it takes natural gas longer to heat the same amount of space.
Heating oil is a better value than natural gas. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that heating oil has cost less than natural gas in Connecticut for 24 of the past 32 years, on a BTU-for-BTU basis. Furthermore, the U.S. has surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world's largest oil producer. Bigger supply means slower demand and slower demand means lower costs. According to one forecast published by Kiplinger, "New sources of supply and slowing demand will combine to push oil prices down 20% to 30% by 2016."
Natural Gas customers may have briefly enjoyed lower prices in recent years, but heating oil, which has historically been less expensive for Connecticut homeowners, is currently regaining its cost advantage across the state. Connecticut's utilities are now hitting homeowners who wish to switch to natural gas heat with a 10%-30% surcharge if their homes aren't located along an existing pipeline. Indeed, many homes aren't, and when these surcharges are factored in, payback on a natural gas conversion could take well over 20 years.
Natural gas prices are expected to continue rising due to increasing demand for power generation, increases in natural gas exports, and an inadequate and leaking infrastructure. Meanwhile, heating oil prices, now at a six-year low, continue to fall due to increasing domestic production.
While the natural gas industry has been creating new environmental risks, our industry has been improving the environmental profile of heating oil. Today, heating oil burns 99.9% clean, as measured by the combustion residue left behind after burning 1,000 gallons of the fuel. That residue amounts to just seven ounces from burning 7,100 pounds of fuel, according to the National Oilheat Research Alliance. Before 1970, a heating oil burner typically created 10 pounds of residue. That's a 95% improvement.
If climate change concerns you and you want to do your part to help the Earth, you're using the right fuel in heating oil. Heating oil dealers are enthusiastically embracing a fuel reformulation that will make heating oil one of the cleanest fuels on the market. Heating oil is also being blended with renewable biofuel to create Bioheat® Fuel - a blend that can outperform natural gas on emissions reduction. To be specific, first generation B5 Bioheat® Fuel (5% biofuel content) has the same carbon footprint as natural gas. Tomorrow's ultra-low sulfur B20 oil will have the lowest carbon footprint of any heating fuel. At this rate, heating oil's carbon footprint will be reduced by over 20% by 2020, by over 40% by 2030, and could reach absolute zero by 2040.
If you can't see pollution, is it really there? The natural gas industry is a prolific polluter, but it counts on the invisibility of natural gas to avoid public scrutiny.
Natural gas is 95% methane1 - which is a greenhouse gas with 72 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide2 - and it is constantly leaking into the atmosphere from leaks in gas pipelines3. If that gas was a liquid fuel instead, there would be pools and puddles in our streets, and the public outcry would be deafening. But the gas dissipates into the air, where the utilities count on it to be "out of sight, out of mind." Gas leaks may be invisible to the naked eye, but they take a heavy toll in the stratosphere. It was previously thought that only carbon dioxide was doing more to force climate change than methane.4 However, a recent study by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that the 100-year warming influence of 1 ton of methane is actually 34 times worse than 1 ton of carbon dioxide, and the 20-year impact is 86 times worse.
The environmental damage caused by natural gas drilling is the subject of the powerful documentary film Gasland, which aired on HBO starting in June 2010. The Gasland trailer can be viewed on Youtube. The film offers an in-depth look at the devastating effects of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" - the gas drilling technology that involves smashing underground rock formations and injecting massive amounts of a chemical-laced blend. Residents claim that water supplies have been ruined and that flammable gas enters their homes through faucets. And the problem is only getting worse. In 2007, less than 5% of U.S. natural gas came from fracking; today, over 35% comes from fracking.
1U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
3U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
4Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Heating oil delivery is safe. Heating oil trucks receive their loads at storage terminals and deliver to customers' homes and businesses. Heating oil releases during delivery are extremely rare.
Natural gas is delivered by underground pipelines that are surprisingly vulnerable to damage during construction. Contractors often strike gas pipelines with heavy equipment, causing immediate or delayed leaks.
If a leak poses an immediate hazard, it is considered Category 1, and the utility repairs it right away. But leaks that pose no imminent threat of fire or explosion are designated as Category 2 or Category 3, and the utilities often leave them leaking, despite the climate change implications.5 When you spot dead vegetation along a road, it may well have been killed by gas leaking from a damaged or corroded pipeline.6
As if poisoning the air, killing plants and threatening homeowner safety wasn't bad enough, the natural gas utilities are actually passing the costs onto the consumer and charging their customers for these leaks. According to a report issued by Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey, "Nationally, consumers paid at least $20 billion from 2000-2011 for gas that was unaccounted for and never used."
Upgrading to higher-efficiency heating oil equipment costs thousands less than converting to natural gas heating, and pays for itself in a few short years through increased fuel efficiency and lower heating costs.
Converting from heating oil to gas is an "expensive gamble," according to the Consumer Energy Council of America. Converting guarantees you nothing, and it might cost $10,000 or more in upfront costs, which includes removing valuable heating oil equipment and disassembling your entire heating oil installation, which includes a tank, fuel lines connecting the tank to the burner, and the heating system itself. In New England, conversion costs can be as high as $19,000. That's an investment so large it might never pay you back.
In an era where international conglomerates already dominate commerce, the local connections that we maintain enrich our lives and keep us connected to the community.
Dominick is a local company that employs local people, pays local taxes and supports local organizations. We know your community, and your business is very important to us. Heating oil customers who use a full-service company like Dominick know that 24-hour emergency service is just a phone call away, and one company meets all their home heating needs.
Converting to gas means trading in a relationship with a local provider like Dominick to do business with a large, faceless gas utility. Switching to a utility also means giving up convenience and clout. Gas customers need the utility for fuel, and they need another provider for service, because the utilities don't service home equipment. With their business divided, customers might feel insignificant and powerless when they need help the most - an experience you'll never have with Dominick.
When you buy heating oil, you pay the per-gallon price and nothing more.
Gas customers get saddled with a succession of surcharges, including monthly minimum charges, delivery charges, supply charges, cost adjustment charges, taxes, franchise fees and more. The next time you hear a claim that gas is cheaper than heating oil, ask whether the quoted price includes the utility surcharges.
When your heating oil tank is full, you enjoy a pleasing degree of self-reliance, with no dependence on "the grid" to supply your heat.
Natural gas, by contrast, requires continuous delivery that can be discontinued at any time. If you enjoy feeling independent and self-reliant in your home, heating oil is the heating fuel for you.