To many folks, oil heat has an inherently bad reputation. Most—when asked to picture heating oil—think of a clichéd, black sludge-like substance that draws a direct connotation to a dirty, toxic substance. But that assumption is wildly mistaken.
The technological advances over the last few decades have resulted in fuels that burns 95% cleaner than it did in the 1970s. In fact, the heating oil in your tank burns so cleanly, producing such negligible emissions that the Federal Clean Air Act doesn’t even regulate it anymore.
How is this possible? Advances in refining processes have produced ultra-low sulfur heating oil that’s better for customers in many ways. The quality of the oil in your tank has a big impact on how efficiently your system runs, how long your equipment lasts—and how much fuel you need to burn to keep your home comfortable. It also has a big impact on the environment. That’s why ultra-low sulfur heating oil has been mandated in Maine since 2018.
Heating oil is already more efficient than natural gas in terms of Btu content. You need to burn about 40% more natural gas to receive the same heating equivalent of heating oil. Cleaner oil burns even more efficiently—helping to keep heating costs down even further. Ultra-low sulfur heating oil also opens the door to super-efficient heating systems, which can increase the advantages of heating oil over natural gas even more.
Research conducted by the Energy Research Council/Brookhaven National Laboratory found fuel savings as high as 48.3% when outdated equipment is replaced with a new, high-efficiency boiler. That’s just one more reason more people are sticking to oil—especially where winters are colder, like here in Maine.
Cleaner fuel also protects your equipment. The quality of the oil in your tank has a big impact on how long your equipment lasts. Less sulfur also means less build-up in your equipment. That translates to fewer breakdowns and lower maintenance costs for you.
The life expectancy of an average heating oil appliance is around 30 years if it is properly maintained—nearly double that of a typical gas furnace, which needs to be replaced after only 11 to 14 years. Heating oil-based appliances also boast faster recovery rates. For example, a water heater powered by heating oil will recover up to twice as fast as a water heater powered by natural gas, and more than three times as fast as an electric-powered water heater.
Maine winters are no picnic. The last thing you want is a boiler or furnace malfunction in the middle of a cold snap—or worse—in the middle of the night. It’s why you should never skip your annual tune-up! That’s the best way to make sure your boiler or furnace is running at peak efficiency when you need it most. Plus, in addition to helping keep heating costs down, regular maintenance also prevents many of the problems that lead to breakdowns.
But what if your heat goes out unexpectedly? Don’t panic. There’s often an easy fix to certain common problems. This easy troubleshooting guide may help you avoid a service call.
Sometimes the solutions are quite simple. For example, the system switch may have accidentally gotten turned off. You’d be surprised how many times we hear of this happening!
Start with the common causes and fixes first, such as the thermostat and pilot light, and work through this list:
If the problem is one or more radiators not producing heat even though the boiler system is working fine, make sure you’ve adjusted the radiator valve correctly to produce heat. A faulty circulator or zone valve would cause certain zones to receive hot water and others not, or there may be sludge, deposits or corrosion in the pipes: You’ll need to give us a call.
If your boiler is rumbling—“kittling” is the official term—there’s lime scale buildup on the heat exchanger, which will need to be cleaned. It will also operate more efficiently once cleaned. If your pipes are making a racket, there could be excess water trapped in the return lines or a faulty circulator pump. While most noise issues don’t cause a boiler to suddenly stop heating, they can be annoying. One of our pros can pinpoint the problem and correct it. In addition to peace and quiet, you’ll get improved efficiency and longer boiler lifespan.
If you see water leaking around the boiler, call us right away. Water pooling around a radiator may indicate a faulty relief valve, faulty pump or other issue, and leaks can lead to mold and water damage in your home.
If none of those steps resolves the problem, contact us and we’ll dispatch a technician to get you up and running as soon as possible. PitStop Propane and Fuels not only provides safe and professional installation and service of propane and heating oil-fired appliances, but we can also deliver the fuels to run them! Get in touch with us today to learn more.
While some things are inching back towards normal, the pandemic, combined with destructive storms along the gulf coast, have disrupted the supply chain. It’s causing volatility in prices for nearly every energy source—heating oil, propane, natural gas, and electricity. You’ve likely noticed prices inching up at the gas pump, and propane prices are at their highest levels since 2014.
Part of the problem is that during the early days of the pandemic, fuel prices plummeted because of decreased demand. The industry—and Wall Street—is still trying to recover, and rather than increase supply, there are some who want to keep prices high by keeping supplies tight. Read more about the factors that are driving today’s energy market in the article here.
People sometimes misunderstand how negatively all this impacts us on our side as well. It’s important to remember that we don’t profit more when prices are higher. In fact, it’s the opposite; we make less. Think about when food prices increase. Your local grocery store isn’t profiting off those higher prices. If anyone’s profiting, it’s the big corporations and Wall Street investors.
Propane is manufactured from commodities that are bought and sold on the global market—mainly natural gas. As a result, propane prices can fluctuate unpredictably based on a variety of factors:
At PitStop Propane and Fuels, we understand how these propane price increases can present challenges for you. While we can’t control propane prices, we’re always looking for ways to help you keep propane costs manageable. Our EZ Pay Budget Plan helps by spreading your costs over even, monthly payments. It eliminates those big bills that can come back-to-back during our frigid winters. You can also find help from Maine’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program. And if you are having trouble with your bills, let us know: We’ll work with you in every way that we can. Trust PitStop to come through for you.
We’ve been in business for many years and have deep roots in the Southern Maine community. We have secure access to supply. We are doing everything possible to ensure we can deliver—even if other companies cannot—no matter the cost or difficulty we face. We thank you for your understanding and we appreciate your loyalty. As we’ve done quite a few times in the past, we will get through these tough times by all working together.
The ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt here in and around the Greater Portland area.
Times have been tough for a lot of people. Many are still trying to recover from unemployment, underemployment, and a stunted tourist season last year. The financial struggles have made it hard for some to pay their bills.
If you are finding yourself struggling to pay your fuel bills with us, get in touch with us right away so we can work together on a solution. We want to make sure you stay warm and comfortable all winter long. Don’t let fear or pride make things worse. The sooner contact us, the sooner you can get back on track.
There are other resources that can additionally help you with your home heating costs:
LIHEAP aids those in need by reducing home energy costs, paying energy bills, energy crisis assistance, weatherization, and energy-related home repairs. Each state has its own LIHEAP.
In Maine, eligibility for assistance from LIHEAP depends on the household income and the number of people in the household.
If your total household income meets the income requirements, which is 150% of the Federal Poverty Level or 60% of the State Poverty Level, you may be eligible for aid from LIHEAP.
You may still apply for assistance if your heat is part of your rent.
Assistance may also be available if you have less than a three-day supply of heating fuel, or if you are in danger of having your utility services disconnected and have no way to pay the bill.
Those who pay court-ordered child support may be able to deduct the amount of the payments from the household income when it comes to LIHEAP eligibility. If your household income is above the eligibility guidelines but you have medical costs, you may be able to deduct a portion of the amount you have paid from your household income.
Contact us for more information about our pricing and payment options, as well as more information on LIHEAP today.
Who wants to deal with winter home maintenance chores while also dealing with snow removal? No one! It’s why it’s of utmost importance to start preparing for winter before it shows up on your doorstep. In fact, right now is the perfect time to start tackling your winter checklist. Here are 6 steps to prepare and protect your home for the coming months here in Southeastern Maine:
If you feel comfortable with the tasks and you’re handy, change out the air filter and test the igniter switch. If it’s been a while since an expert serviced your heating system, we’ll take care of you. Just make sure to get on our schedule as soon as possible!
The hotter, summer weather can cause the seals around your windows to crack over time. You might not notice in warmer months but leaks and cracks can leave you facing a chilly home—and higher heating bill—in winter. As part of your winter home maintenance, feel around your home for any drafts. Re-caulk or install weather stripping as needed to keep your home toasty.
Change your ceiling fan direction to clockwise! This pushes the warmer air near your ceiling down into the room. This simple swap is key in rooms where you run your fans even in the winter, such as using your fan for white noise to help you sleep.
A frozen pipe is a nightmare of a hassle. Insulate your pipes to protect yourself against a water shortage or a major flood. This helps keep them from freezing and makes your home’s hot water system more efficient, saving you serious bucks. Also, if you’re leaving town this winter, keep your thermostat at 55 degrees F or higher so the radiant heat from your house can keep water flowing through your pipes.
If you have a fireplace that you use during the winter, whether for heat or just the aesthetic, this is the time to have it cleaned. This is a must; the buildup is flammable and can pose a serious hazard.
Now’s the time to flush out your hot water heater to remove any sediment. You’ll also want to ensure it’s working properly. No one wants to deal with ice-cold water in the dead of winter.
Preparing your home for winter can lighten your energy bill, make you more comfortable indoors and provide peace of mind. Start tackling your winter checklist today so you can kick back and relax when the temperatures drop. If you need a hand with maintaining your furnace or water heater, contact PitStop today—we’ll be happy to help!
Face it. Our lives are busy. Who has the time to scrutinize utility bills? Many of us just receive them and pay them, and they vanish for a month. But why get hammered by fuel bills every winter while also facing extra holiday season expenses? PitStop Fuels has the ways to help manage your fuel budget and dodge the fiscal wallop of winter.
During a particularly cold winter, which is forecast for this one ahead, you open your fuel bill with a sense of dread. For 30-plus years, PitStop has learned that every customer is different, with different needs. That’s why we offer outstanding programs aimed to make your life a little easier. Let’s look:
To get started, make sure to launch a PitStop Fuels account, which offers several convenient features such as online bill pay, delivery scheduling and email billing. All this is accessible 24/7/365 from both your smartphone or right through our website! We provide you the security of knowing that you’re in control when it comes to both your propane and oil tank refills and your budget.
You get ease and freedom from worry with automatic propane delivery. Here, we’ll look at your fuel propane usage and factor those patterns alongside the current weather conditions to estimate how much fuel you will use. Then, we schedule a delivery to your home before you run low. No need to call in—no need to watch your gauges in the frigid temperatures!
PitStop’s budget plan gives you peace of mind by letting you spread your propane and oil costs into level monthly payments. It also lets you better plan your monthly budget. The EZ Pay program also offers an Auto Pay option, which saves you even more time and hassles. This allows for your monthly payment to be automatically deducted from your checking account or charged to a credit card. You’ll know your bill was paid on time, and you don’t ever have to go hunting for your statement or a stamp!
We can install a wireless tank monitor for you this season! This device attaches right to your tank and keeps track of exactly how much fuel is always in your tank. We always know your tank gauge levels—and so will you—thanks to a mobile app you can download right to your smartphone! Ask us more about this service today.
Are you currently a “Will-Call” customer—or are you looking for a new supploer this season? Don’t wait to fill your tank! Choose PitStop and get a 100-gallon minimum fill-up by October 31 and enjoy 10 cents off per gallon with payment spread equally across two months! **
Who doesn’t want a little less hassle in their lives—especially when dealing with your fuel bills? Contact PitStop Fuels today, we’ll be happy to help!
**Credit card on file is required. Total billable amount must be received within 60 days’ time. Please speak to a customer service representative for details.
With that in mind, if you have unheated or underheated spaces in your home you want to utilize all season long, now is the time to make sure that you’ll be able to this winter by having PitStop Fuels install an efficient propane space heater!
You can enjoy the view from your sunporch, work in your garage, and more with our vented and vent-free space heaters. They’re also great for home additions and sheds.
Propane heaters are very energy-efficient, with some models achieving an efficiency rating of nearly 99%. That means that out of every dollar you spend on propane, up to 99 cents will go towards heating that room.
Our equipment experts will help you choose the right propane space heater for your needs. One factor we consider is the size of the space you want to heat. You don’t want to choose a space heater that doesn’t give off enough BTUs for your space. Conversely, a space heater that gives off many more BTUs than needed for heating your room is wasteful as you’re using more propane than needed.
Vented propane heaters have a chimney and/or vent pipe built into them and are vented out the exterior of a residence. Any potentially harmful combustion byproducts are vented to the outdoors, keeping you and your family safe. They offer more precise temperature control.
However, because vented space heaters must be placed on an exterior wall, your options for where they can be positioned in the room may be limited. Installation takes longer and is more expensive than vent-free heaters.
Vent-free heaters don’t require ductwork or vents, making installation quicker and less expensive than vented heaters. Because vent-free heaters don’t need access to an external wall for venting, they may be installed where vented heaters can’t be.
These heaters are available in a variety of sizes. You can choose between infrared heating, which spreads warmth into the space, and blue flame heating, which uses convection to heat the area.
Today’s vent-free propane heaters come with safety features like oxygen depletion sensors, overheating protection, and automatic shutoff. Because exhaust is released inside the home, it is illegal to install vent-free heaters in rooms where people sleep. Some towns or cities may ban them altogether. Check your local codes before you choose a space heater.
Keep your spaces warm and comfortable no matter what Old Man Winter sends our way. Contact us to get started on adding propane space heaters to your home!
Diesel engines—and the diesel fuel that powers them—have come a long way from their initial development as an alternative to the steam engine. In fact, there now are countless businesses all over Southern Maine that depend on diesel for their day-to-day operations including lumber companies, construction companies, courier and delivery companies, food-service companies, landscapers, caterers, beverage distributors, moving companies, warehouses, and so many more!
If diesel fuel is an integral part of how you run your Maine business, here are five facts you may find useful, interesting and helpful!
Diesel fuel was named in honor of German engineer and inventor Rudolph Diesel, who introduced the first successful diesel engine to the world in 1897, one year before the first commercial engine of its kind was installed in a factory—also in Germany.
Unlike traditional gasoline-fueled engines, diesel engines do not use sparkplugs. Instead, the fuel is injected into a combustion chamber filled with highly compressed air. The fuel is then ignited by the heat in the chamber. In very cold weather, a device called a glow plug is sometimes used to keep the compressed as hot as it needs to be so the fuel ignites.
On-road diesel fuel is clear and clean burning. It helps extend engine life and is used for vehicles that are on roads with “civilian” cars. The vehicles that use on-road diesel include delivery trucks, vehicles with trailers, and other light-duty highway vehicles. (These are defined as motor vehicles that correspond to a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 pounds or less.)
Off-road diesel fuel, on the other hand, is dyed red. This makes it easy to distinguish from on-road diesel, which incurs taxes. This fuel is used for tractors and other farm equipment, and it is often used at construction sites.
The first advanced biofuel in the U.S. was biodiesel. It features several different ingredients, including recycled cooking oil, animal fats and agricultural oils, which makes the diesel fuel of today a product of renewable resources. While slightly more expensive, biodiesel has become the No. 1 alternative fuel in Germany—and in Europe, more than 40 percent of passenger cars sold are diesel-powered!
Diesel is much more efficient than gasoline, but needs to stick to moderate speeds, generally up to 65 miles per hour. Additionally, diesel engines boast an efficiency of 40 percent, compared to 20 percent for gas engines. Also, a diesel engine can run for 400 to 800 miles on a single tank for passenger vehicles, which lowers the price you pay for fuel!
No matter how your local business utilizes diesel fuel, it pays to have the right supplier. Sometimes you can’t just head over to the gas station down the road for refueling—maybe that gas station is in the next town and that fueling trip can take an up to an hour or even longer. Local businesses here in Maine that need on-site bulk gasoline and diesel fuels to keep the job going with minimal downtime depend on PitStop Fuels to provide prompt, safe and professional fuel delivery service all year long?
How can we help you? We can:
Contact us to learn our available diesel fuel services and how we can help your bottom line. From snowplows to commercial mowers, waste haulers to forklifts, and beyond, diesel fuel will have your business covered. Find out if you’re in our service area today!
The leaf-peepers are back. The apples are picked. The heavier jackets are being worn. Fall has returned to Maine.
That means it’s time to be turning on the heat in your central Maine home. You may be dreading the energy bills that come with that. We at PitStop Fuels get that. We’re locally owned and based. That’s why we’re giving you some tips that you can use now so you can make sure your home’s heating system is as efficient as possible, which helps you save money on energy bills.
The best thing you can do for your home’s heating system, and your wallet, is have an annual tune-up from PitStop Fuels. Our professionals will clean and assess your heating system to ensure that it’s running at its best efficiency so it will use less energy, which means you’ll spend less on energy bills! Annual tune-ups let any needed repairs be discovered and fixed before they get worse and not only make your heating system run less efficiently, but also end up becoming more costly repairs. Getting an annual tune-up as part of taking proper care of your heating system will also help it last longer so you get the most out of your investment.
Your thermostat should be part of the annual tune-up, to make sure it’s calibrated accurately and running properly. If it isn’t, update to a new programmable thermostat! You can program it to keep your home at a cooler temperature while you’re away, and have it warm again by the time you get home. Some of today’s programmable thermostats can be controlled through your smartphone.
If you’re looking for an easy and inexpensive task, this is it. Dirty air filters let dirty air into your heating system. Dust and dirt settle on the parts, which can cause damage that leads to not only expensive repairs, but a shorter life for your heating system. If you have a forced-air heating system, change it every one to three months. And if you have pets of people with allergies in your home, make that closer to one month.
Another inexpensive project to help your heating system be more efficient is to get rid of your home’s drafts, which can add up to 15 percent to your energy bill. The bases and edges of windows and doors are the prime spots for drafts. Weatherstripping and caulk do a lot for eliminating drafts.
Keep a clear path from your heating source —whether it’s a forced-air register, radiator or baseboard heater — and the rest of the room so the heated air can circulate. If heated air is blocked from circulating, your heating system will work harder for a longer time, leading to more energy use and higher energy bills. Don’t let draperies block registers, radiators or baseboard heaters. Also, don’t place furniture close to them.
Trust PitStop Fuels for top-quality service of your home’s heating equipment, as well as prompt and professional delivery of heating oil and propane. Contact us today to become a PitStop Fuels customer!
There is a lot of uncertainty in the world these days. That’s why so many of us are looking for ways to get more control of our day-to-day lives.
One of the simplest ways you can do that is by ensuring that your Southern Maine home will always have the heating oil and/or propane it needs this winter to keep you warm and cozy. Automatic Delivery from Pitstop Fuels is the answer!
When you use the traditional “Will-Call” method of ordering fuel, you are responsible for checking regularly how much propane or heating oil you have in your tank.
Here’s a reminder on how to check your tank gauge levels if you’re not already familiar:
Heating oil tank: Look for the clear plastic tube on the top of the tank. There are markings on the outside of the tube that looks like numbers you’d find on a car’s fuel gauge: F, ¾, ½, ¼, etc. Inside the tank is a red marker or a float that indicates how much oil is in the tank. If the marker or float is at the bottom of the gauge or isn’t visible, the tank is empty or almost empty.
Propane tank: Look for the round dial on your propane tank that looks like a speedometer. The numbers on the dial indicate the percentage of how full your propane tank is. If the needle is on 40, your propane tank is 40% full.
Running out of propane or heating oil during winter can have potentially dangerous consequences for your home—not only causing a hassle but adding unnecessary expenses, too. Your home is left cold, putting your pipes in danger of freezing on top of the lack of hot water or fuel for a fireplace or stove.
With Automatic Delivery, however, all your worries about running out of fuel are over! We use degree days to determine when you will need heating oil or propane and then schedule a delivery before you run low. This service is designed for maximum efficiency and saves customers time. How? Because now they don’t have to wait for the first available delivery time—we’ll already have you on our schedule each and every time so there’s never any worries. Best of all, Automatic Delivery is 100% FREE!
Automatic Delivery makes life easier. Contact us today to enroll!
If you’re looking for local, convenient fuel delivery in Cumberland County or York County, Maine, you’re in luck! We offer delivery of heating oil, kerosene, and propane, as well as installation, service and repairs of home heating and home comfort equipment. Check our searchable ZIP Code database to see if PitStop Fuels serves your community!