While heating oil prices are hitting uncomfortable highs, they will always fluctuate in some capacity. When prices are moderate and stable, most people are just glad their bills are kept lower. But when prices spike—like they have this year—consumers want to know what influences heating oil prices, and why they are what they are.
We know high heating costs are frustrating. And we know how important it is for you to have a dependable source for heating oil delivery that won’t break the bank. We will always do our best to keep prices fair and transparent, and we strive to deliver great value and ways to help manage costs even when prices aren’t as low as we’d like.
There are four main factors that affect the price of heating oil.
For the past year, the war in Ukraine has played a role in contributing to global prices, but it’s not the whole story.
And, in areas like the northeast, supplies may be coming from much farther away, which takes longer and costs more. This increases anxiety about short-term supply and drives prices higher.
If you use heating oil in your home, you already know it’s a great value. Clean-burning and efficient, it provides steady, reliable heat energy at an affordable price. And as a PitStop Propane and Fuels customer, you understand that value isn’t just about rock-bottom prices. Real value comes from dependability, quality fuels, convenience, and personal service.
We add value for our customers with free and convenient services like our free automatic delivery service which eliminates the need to monitor your tank levels. We even offer wireless tank monitoring that keeps you in the know about your fuel levels 24/7/365…accessible right through your smartphone!
We also offer plenty of options to help you manage costs no matter what happens with prices or how cold it gets. While enrollment in these plans is closed for the 2022-2023 heating season, mark your calendars for the upcoming summer when we’re able to offer them once more:
When you’re looking for a heating oil provider for your home or business, you want a company that puts customers first. That inherently means offering fair, transparent pricing, but it also means offering true reliability, with products and services designed to make your life easier all the way around.
To learn more or become a PitStop customer, contact us today. We’d love to have you join our family of customers here in Southern Maine!
Propane is a clean-burning and safe way to heat your home, water, and run many appliances, too. One of the many benefits of clean-burning propane is that there are fewer maintenance issues for equipment on average than other alternative fuel sources.
Follow these propane heating system dos and don’ts below to enjoy a warm, problem-free winter this season.
Do get seasonal maintenance. While moving parts don’t get gunked up as they can in heating-oil fueled systems, it’s important to get your heating equipment checked at the start or end of every heating season.
A tune-up from the pros at PitStop will keep your heating system operating at peak efficiency, helping you keep monthly energy costs down. Annual maintenance also prevents small problems from become big expensive breakdowns—saving you on the cost of repairs or emergency calls.
Don’t attempt to make repairs yourself. If you do have a problem with your heating system—or any of your propane equipment—NEVER attempt to repair it yourself, even if you think it’s an easy fix. While propane is extremely safe, it’s a highly flammable gas under certain conditions. In addition, a DIY repair job could void your warranty—or even your insurance. Our techs are trained and licensed, and when you need a repair, we’re here for you with quality workmanship and transparent and fair pricing.
Do check the color of the flame. Let us know if flames are orange or yellow or you notice a significant amount of soot. Gas flames should be mainly blue when burning correctly.
Don’t attempt to relight a pilot light if you smell gas. If you do relight a pilot light yourself, follow manufacturer’s instructions exactly as written.
Do call us if a pilot light goes out frequently.
Don’t let your tank hit empty. Your propane flows through a system of pipes that are under constant pressure when the system is running; this pressure strains system pipe fittings and the hardening compounds that seal them. But if the pressure changes in the lines—as happens when you run out of fuel—there is the possibility that those sealants could contract and create a leak.
That’s why we are required to perform a leak test to check the integrity of these joints and seals. It’s best not to let you tank get below about 30% before you call for a delivery.
Do sign up for automatic delivery. It’s the best way to ensure you don’t run out of propane without always worrying or checking your tank gauge! We use a proven algorithm based on your typical usage patterns and the real-time weather conditions to know when you’ll need a propane delivery. Automatic propane delivery service also helps us keep our operating costs down because we can optimize our fuel delivery routes and schedules—which helps us keep our prices down. Best of all, this convenient service is FREE!
Don’t let snow and ice accumulate around the tank and any vents. Wind, snow, and ice can damage lines and block vents, resulting in potentially dangerous situations for your home and family.
Do clear a path to your tank after storms. It makes deliveries safer for our drivers so they can get their work done efficiently and get to everyone quickly. Is your tank underground? Marking its location with a pole topped with a bright-colored flag or wide ribbon makes it visible over large snowbanks and drifts.
Don’t forget to clear your driveway after snow if you’re expecting a delivery. Our trucks need at least a 9- to 10-foot-wide path to maneuver safely, and we cannot deliver fuel if your driveway isn’t plowed. Marking the edges makes it easier to navigate, especially on steep driveways. Remember, just because you can get your car down your driveway doesn’t mean our 15-ton truck can make it too.
Do install CO and natural gas detectors. Change the batteries twice a year and test them monthly. With windows shut tight and the heat on, winter is the most dangerous time when it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Do know the smell of propane. Hint: it smells like rotten eggs! Small propane leaks can be created or made worse by winter storms. If you use propane in your home, you and your family should brush up on propane safety and know what to do if you suspect a leak.
Do call us with any questions if you’re ever unsure of a potential safety issue or just need some insight on how to keep your family as comfortable as can be.
The professionals at Pitstop Propane and Fuels have the knowledge, experience, and resources to answer all your questions and have a warm, enjoyable winter season. Get in touch with us today to learn more or become a PitStop customer.
If you run a commercial fleet, you probably know that some vehicles run on diesel, while others use unleaded gasoline. But you may not have thought much about the difference. The names can be misleading—gasoline—aka “gas” is not a gas in the chemical definition. Both diesel and gasoline are fuels—and some gasses can be fuels, too. It’s admittedly confusing!
While both gasoline and diesel are used to fuel vehicles, they have some key differences. Here’s what you need to know.
Diesel fuel is made using a hydrocarbon mixture that is a byproduct of the distillation of crude oil. It is denser than gas. Diesel’s boiling point is higher than that of water, which means it has an extremely low evaporation point. It’s classified as combustible, meaning it requires compression and heat to function.
Gasoline is made from refined crude oil and other petroleum liquids which are blended with other ingredients and fuel ethanol into finished motor gasoline. It’s available in different grades and qualities. Regular gas can evaporate at room temperature, and is considered a flammable liquid, which means that it requires a spark. So, while diesel fuel will extinguish a lit match, a lit match will ignite the fumes of gasoline before it even reaches the liquid.
Diesel’s chemical composition contains more atoms, which help provide more power during combustion—but also produces more greenhouse gas than gasoline.
Because diesel is several times more powerful than gas, it’s the go-to fuel for industries that require that extra energy, such as trucking and construction. The power output also means it’s more efficient than gasoline. One gallon of diesel produces 147,000 BTUs compared to 125,000 BTUs of a gallon of regular gasoline.
Gasoline is a less-dense fuel. It’s better at providing speed than sheer power, which is why it’s better for automobiles. It also performs better in colder temperatures.
The key difference between the two fuels is the combustion process in the engine.
In gasoline engines, the fuel is first mixed with air and then compressed by the piston. Then a spark plug creates a spark to cause an explosion, called combustion. The explosion moves the piston, which moves the crankshaft and ultimately moves the wheel.
Diesel engines don’t need spark plugs for combustion. Instead of using a spark for ignition, diesel fuel needs to be vaporized before it goes to the combustion chamber, where it ignites at a high temperature.
As the piston compresses the air, it gets hotter due to pressure. The hot air, when mixed with vaporized diesel, ignites resulting in combustion.
We’ve been working with businesses across southern Maine for more than 30 years and we understand your commercial fueling needs. No two businesses are alike, and most need both regular gas and diesel fueling options for their fleets and equipment. We can help, from planning and scheduling on-site deliveries, to tracking your usage patterns to improve efficiency.
Contact us for more information today. We’ll be happy to help you get started.
A chilly, snowy southern Maine winter is no joke! So, when it comes to heating your home throughout the season, gas is a common and popular option for a variety of reasons. But if you have a choice between utilizing propane or natural gas, how do you know the best option for your home? While there are similarities, there are important differences to distinguish. It’s smart to consider the benefits and downsides of both.
Here’s a quick guide to some of the bigger points:
Both natural gas and propane are subject to market fluctuations that will affect price. In addition, a dollar-for-dollar comparison is tricky, because propane is measured by the gallon while natural gas is measured in cubic feet.
When you convert the units and compare average rates, usually natural gas usually looks less expensive, but the comparison is still misleading. Because propane delivers more energy, you need twice as much natural gas to achieve the same amount of heat.
The cost of every form of fuel and energy continues to be volatile. The cost of switching out equipment should also play a role in your choice. If your heating system is new and working well, you may be better off sticking with it.
That said, if you are replacing your system or building a new home, PitStop’s team of propane professionals will help you with the installation of everything from your propane storage tank to in-home heating equipment. We’ve also got your back with multiple options to help you manage your costs, including monthly budget plans that give you level payments, as well as pre-buy and fixed price options that can help eliminate price volatility all year long.
We also offer great value! We make it easy to do business with us with convenient automatic delivery service and friendly and responsive customer service reps to take your call.
There’s a reason homeowners and businesses in southern Maine have trusted PitStop Propane and Fuels for over thirty years to keep their homes comfortable all winter long.
We can help you make the right choice! Contact us today to learn more.
Your water heater works hard for you—it’s an unsung hero of your home! In fact, the typical American household uses between 60 and 65 gallons of hot water a day for bathing and showering, washing dishes, laundry, cleaning, and other tasks. That’s a lot of hot water—and a lot of energy. So, if you’re thinking about replacing your water heater, it’s worth it to do a little research and make sure you get the most efficient hot water heater you can find.
For that, you have two basic options:
You can replace your old, tank style with a newer, somewhat more efficient model, or you can opt for a tankless water heater that will help you keep energy costs under control while delivering virtually unlimited hot water.
Here’s how the two types of water heaters work, and the pros and cons of each:
These are exactly what they sound like—and you’ve likely seen them before. It’s a big storage tank, typically about 20 to 80 gallons, that keeps all that water hot, so it’s ready when you need it next. These traditional types of units use a thermostat to make sure the water is hot enough when you want to use it, heating water to the set temperature and then reheating it as it cools. They can use oil, propane, or electricity to heat the water—so how much hot water you use can have a big impact on your energy bills.
If your water heater is in a poorly insulated area, such as the basement or garage, the water in the tank can get cold faster—it’s called “standing heat loss.” As a result, your water heater must work even harder, and it takes longer to heat back up again.
Storage tank water heaters are susceptible to rust and corrosion, which can lead to leaks. You need to stay vigilant for signs of deterioration.
Lastly, you are limited by the size of your tank if several people are using hot water at the same time or taking several showers in a row. You need a shower schedule or patience to wait for the tank to heat back up.
On the plus side, storage-tank water heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase. More energy-efficient models are available, and you can also add additional insulation to reduce heat loss. That all said…they can still end up costing you more to operate!
Tankless water heaters save energy by instantly heating water when you need it. When you turn on the tap, water flows through the unit and is heated instantly by a propane-fueled heating element. When you turn off the tap, the unit stops heating water. Compare this to the cost of operating a traditional water heater, which requires you to keep a tank holding many gallons of water hot and ready to use all the time. As a result, you can enjoy virtually unlimited hot water—while seeing savings of up to 40%!
You’ll save space as well as energy. Tankless water heaters are compact—about the size of a suitcase—and can even hang on a wall, freeing up room in your basement or utility room. Like their name states, there’s no tank! That said, there are different sizes designed to fit different needs. Rather than total gallons, their output is measured in a flow rate of gallons per minute. The greater the volume of water you need at the same time will require a higher flow rate.
There are also condensing and non-condensing type units:
The main downside to a tankless water heater is the price—but they will pay for themselves in savings in the long run, vs a storage tank style, which will cost you more over time.
If you’ve decided a tankless propane water heater is the best choice for you, the pros at PitStop have the experience and knowledge to help you select the right size and type of water heater for your home.
We offer top-quality models from Rinnai that help you maximize energy efficiency when heating your water—and can help you save with generous rebates, too. Contact us for more information today!
If you’re shopping for a new home, building a new home, or looking to replace your current heating system, one of the biggest decisions is going to be how your home is heated. You have plenty of options—but some are better than others. If you’ve never given much thought to your heating equipment before, you may use the words “boiler” and “furnace” interchangeably. As you start to do your research, you’ll discover they are not at all the same.
So, what’s the difference between a boiler and a furnace? In a nutshell, the main difference is how they distribute heat. A furnace uses a system of ducts to blow heated air throughout your home. A boiler heats water to create steam to spread heat via baseboard radiators or flooring systems.
If you’re navigating home heating for the first time, here’s what you need to know:
There are two types of boilers: Forced hot water boilers heat water to between 170 degrees and 200 degrees and provide instant heat through pipes throughout the house. Vents in the baseboards then disperse the heat throughout the house.
Steam boilers create steam and send it to radiators as a vapor. When the vapor cools, it returns to the boiler to become steam again. It’s important that the water level doesn’t drop below a certain level, and steam boilers have a gauge in front to show the water level. If the water level gets too low, the burner will not fire, and the boiler will not provide heat.
A furnace uses a heat exchanger to warm air, which is then blown through ductwork to warm your home. Registers in the floors or ceilings of your living space allow warm air into your spaces and feature a damper so you can control the flow. Supply registers, which deliver warm air, are usually located under windows or in the ceiling near outside walls.
Return grills are typically located closer to the interior of the home and bring air back to your system. They do not have a damper.
Furnaces and boilers can be run with oil, propane, natural gas, or electricity—although, except for natural gas and propane, the equipment is not interchangeable. In the northeast, most homes will use oil or gas for heat. Electric heat takes much longer to reach a comfortable temperature and maintain it—driving up your energy usage. That means, even without geopolitics driving energy costs up, electricity can easily cost you more money.
Heating oil is a great option because it has a higher BTU output per gallon, so you use it more slowly than propane. That means you could pay less to heat your house with heating oil, even if the per-gallon cost of propane is less.
Today, home heating oil is ultra-low sulfur. What does that mean? It burns much even more cleanly—with significantly fewer particulate emissions—from the already low levels of the past few decades. What’s more, new heating oil boilers and furnaces now burn fuel 99.9% clean, according to studies conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven Laboratory.
Propane is also a good option! Propane generates more Btus than an equivalent amount of electricity, and it delivers more than twice the Btus of natural gas, so you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat or energy than either of those alternatives. It’s also a smart choice if you also want to run other appliances on propane. It’s the preferred fuel for cooking, and it’s great for all kinds of heating—washers and dryers, water heaters, gas logs, and hot tubs—as well as for powering backup generators.
Whether you are updating, replacing, or starting from scratch, the pros at PitStop can answer all your home-heating equipment questions. Contact us today to learn more about upgrading your home’s heating system.
You’ve seen pumps for it at the gas station, but unless you operate a fleet of freight or delivery trucks, buses, or farm or construction vehicles, you may not be familiar with diesel fuel. So, what is diesel fuel? Like gasoline, diesel is made from refined crude oil, but it is less flammable and less volatile than gas while delivering a lot more power.
Efficiency and power are the key advantages of diesel over gas when it comes to heavy-duty commercial vehicles. In addition, diesel engines tend to last longer and require less maintenance—even as they handle bigger loads.
And from agriculture to construction, trucking to manufacturing, and beyond, businesses large and small here in Maine count on PitStop Propane and Fuels. We provide the local diesel delivery services they need to get the job done!
If you operate a fleet of service vehicles that use diesel fuel, our on-site fueling and bulk delivery service saves you time and money, compared to the cost of dispatching your fleet to an off-site gas station for fill-ups. We deliver on-road diesel fuel throughout the year to construction companies, trucking companies and many other businesses with a fleet of vehicles.
Do you operate a construction company or other business that has diesel-powered equipment, or a farm running tractors or other farm equipment? If you’re currently buying on-road diesel from a gas station for your off-road equipment, you are paying unnecessary taxes. With the ultra-low sulfur dyed diesel that we deliver for off-road vehicles and equipment, there’s no federal excise tax—and you may be eligible for state excise tax refunds.
Our commercial fueling services are designed to work for all kinds of clients! School districts and municipalities also need diesel fuels and gasoline for school buses, snowplows, fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, trucks, and equipment. Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to review and discuss your specific needs.
When you depend on every truckload of diesel fuel for the success of your business, that fuel is more than just a line item in your budget. You need a partner who will deliver true value at a fair price.
Our commercial and business partnerships are important to us, and that’s why we strive to deliver real value that goes beyond competitive prices. Our friendly staff has fuel management expertise that takes the stress and guesswork out of commercial fuel deliveries. We’ve got the experience to understand your needs and help you plan, schedule, and manage your fuel deliveries. We can also help you track your fuel usage to reduce waste and improve efficiency. And we can work with you to plan a fueling station right at your business or job site!
We’re always here to take your call. Contact us today to find out how we can make doing business easier for you.
When it comes to keeping your southern Maine home warm and cozy through a down east winter, heating oil is a safe and efficient way to heat your home. This is especially the case with our long, raw winter seasons. Other fuels just don’t provide the same heating energy!
If you’re new to the northeast, or perhaps you’ve just purchased your first home (congratulations!), you may have a few questions about what exactly heating oil is, or why you need it. Here are answers to some of the questions we get most often from both new and existing customers alike:
Heating oil is a refined form of crude oil that comes from deep wells both on land and offshore. Most heating oil today is #2 heating oil, and ALL the heating oil in Maine is ultra-low sulfur heating oil.
Ultra-low sulfur heating oil is cleaner—and cleaner-burning—than “regular” heating oil.
Heating oil has a higher BTU output per gallon. That means it will warm up your home faster than other types of fuels such as electric home heating, for example.
Higher BTUs also means you’ll use your heating oil supply at a slower pace, on average, than, say, propane. That means you will pay less to heat your house with heating oil, even if the per-gallon cost of propane itself is less.
Heating systems and equipment that run on oil are generally less expensive to purchase and tend to last longer as well. For example, a heating oil-fired furnace can last 28 years, while a heating oil-fired boiler can last 25 years. New heating oil systems also now burn fuel 99.9% cleanly, according to studies conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven Laboratory. This means heating oil is exceptionally better for the environment than it used to be even as recently as thirty years ago.
Heating oil is an incredibly safe fuel. It doesn’t ignite at room temperature and is nonflammable in liquid form. To burn, it must be heated to 114° and vaporized via combustion process.
If it’s stored properly, heating oil is safe for the environment, too.
The oil used in homes today is dramatically different than the oil burned in the past. Thanks in part to the transition to ultra-low sulfur heating oil, particulate emissions have been reduced significantly from the already low levels of the past few decades.
So just how much cleaner is it? Traditional heating oil has a sulfur content of up to 4,000 parts per million. In contrast, ultra-low sulfur heating oil has a sulfur content of just 15 parts per million. And because it’s so clean-burning, ultra-low sulfur heating oil improves the efficiency of your heating system—saving you money by helping your system last longer and reducing breakdowns.
If you heat your home with oil, you need a heating oil company you can count on for reliable delivery service. PitStop Propane and Fuels has been providing reliable heating oil delivery to customers in southern Maine for more than 30 years. We provide convenient automatic delivery service that helps you avoid runouts while eliminating the hassles of having to check your tank gauge. We also offer wireless tank monitoring too for both propane and heating oil fuels!
Contact us today to learn more and become a customer. We’d love to show you the difference we can make.
Plenty of PitStop’s customers here in Cumberland and York Counties enjoy the ease of our automatic delivery service. It can be a great way to make sure you always have plenty of propane in your tank and eliminate the hassles of a run-out!
But automatic propane delivery is the best solution for everyone. When you sign up for automatic delivery service, we use a proven industry method to calculate your propane usage. We work with an algorithm based on your past usage patterns alongside real-time weather conditions to make sure we schedule deliveries and fill your tank on time. But the algorithm only works best if you have consistent usage patterns.
That meant, until now, that some of our customers had to watch their tank gauges themselves and use our will-call service. That’s because when you use propane inconsistently, whether it’s because you come and go from your residence periodically, or you run a rental property, you may use a lot of propane one month and less at other times. Even things like how often you use your propane hearth can affect your use from month-to-month.
The Odata wireless tank monitors that PitStop offers tracks the level of propane in the tank in real-time and transmits your usage via wireless cellular technology. When the tank gauge reaches a pre-set level, the monitor alerts us—and you—directly via the wireless mobile app. Then, we’ll automatically schedule a delivery to ensure you don’t run out.
The real-time accuracy of our Odata wireless propane tank monitoring service makes monitoring your tank levels a breeze! And the benefits go beyond just ensuring on-time propane deliveries. Here are four great reasons to check out this service:
Even if your tank doesn’t hit completely empty, you’ll still have problems. When propane levels get too low, air can get into your system, which can lead to expensive damage. In general, you shouldn’t let your tank’s propane level go below 20%.
If automatic delivery hasn’t been an option for you before, a wireless tank monitor gives you all the same benefits—and so more. A wireless tank monitor is easy to install, and we can have you ready to go in a matter of minutes!
Contact us today to find out more about the benefits of wireless tank monitoring and how we can get you set up—100% hassle-free.
We hear it every fall season from customers near and far: “Do I really need to get a tune-up again this year?”
If your heating system is running well, it may seem like you don’t need to get a tune-up. But the fact is regular maintenance stems from those small issues before they get the chance to grow into larger problems. As we head into another Maine winter with ongoing price uncertainty, it pays to be sure your heating system is ready to go. After all, no one wants to be stuck with a large repair or replacement bill in the middle of the cold holiday season.
Regular maintenance keeps your system running at peak efficiency. That means you’ll burn fuel more efficiently and keep your monthly heating costs down. In dollars, that can add up to 10% savings on heating costs—a welcomed sight with prices higher than in recent years past.
If you’re still on the fence about booking an annual tune-up, here are 5 more reasons seasonal maintenance can convey its value:
Whether you heat your home with propane or oil, the pros at PitStop Propane and Fuels have the expertise to care for your equipment. We perform diagnostics and make repairs on a broad range of equipment, including the latest high-efficiency models. We will make sure your system is primed for everything a southern Maine winter can deliver!
Nothing is more important to us than helping you stay comfortable while keeping your heating costs down. When it comes to winter prep, a seasonal tune-up is, hands down, the best tool we offer to ensure a trouble-free season. And, if you think it’s time to replace your old equipment, we can help you with a new high-efficiency system that may cut your heating bills in half.
Contact us to schedule your tune-up today!