Monthly Archives: February 2016

Dell M. Cromie

Good News for 2016!

Dell M. Cromie

Dear Friends,

When it comes to keeping New Year’s resolutions, most folks don’t make it to February. For our part, we’re always successful because we consistently resolve to exceed your expectations, save you money, keep you comfortable and deliver peace of mind — every day of the year.

It all starts with dependable fuel deliveries at fair prices, which we back up with a variety of convenient services designed to make your life easier. Our automatic delivery program eliminates the hassle of monitoring your tank levels and ensures that you will never run out of fuel. Our range of payment plans gives you budget-friendly options to help control heating costs, including our popular prompt-payment discounts.

This year, there’s more good news. Oil prices remain at their lowest point since 2009 — and crude oil prices have dropped by about 50% since mid-2014. Many analysts predict prices will continue to stay low, thanks to the highest domestic oil production we’ve seen in 43 years. In fact, household expenditures for heating oil should be 25% lower than last winter, thanks to both lower prices and a forecast for warmer winter temperatures.*

So whatever 2016 brings, you can rest assured we will put your comfort first and give you the best value.

Warmly,
Dell M. Cromie, President

* Source: Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook, U.S. Energy Information Administration, 10/6/15.

Help! I Lost My Heat!

Nobody wants to lose their heat on a cold winter night. But don’t worry: There could be an easy fix. If your heating system stops working, start by making sure the system’s power switch wasn’t accidentally turned off.

Next, check for a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse. Third, see if your thermostat is working (it may need new batteries). You should also check to make sure you did not run out of fuel.

Last, push the red reset button on your oil burner — but do this only once, or you could flood your system with oil. If none of these steps resolves the problem, it’s time to call your equipment service provider for help:

Valley Plumbing and Heating:
(724) 842-1621

truth vs myth

Truth vs. Myth

Turn it up or leave it alone? Shut it off? Switch to another fuel to save money?

Figuring out how to lower your energy bills while staying comfortable can be confusing, especially when it’s hard to separate truth from myth.

Take Our Quiz FIRST:

Answer the following questions with either “truth” or “myth” and then read the articles to see how much you know.

  1. Heating oil should never be stored inside a home.
  2. Natural gas is a more efficient heating fuel than heating oil.
  3. Your home heats up faster when you turn the thermostat up high.
  4. A new heating system always increases energy efficiency and saves money.

1. How Safe Are You?

The recent Oilheat Consumer Research Study revealed that many people, particularly younger ones, have huge misconceptions about the safety of heating with oil.

The fact is, oil-heated homes are incredibly safe! Here’s why.

Family photo

No explosions. Contrary to what many people believe, heating oil cannot explode. The oil that’s stored in a tank is as likely to explode as the water in a swimming pool. That’s how safe it is to store heating oil in your basement or outside your home.

No fire hazard. Heating oil cannot burn in its liquid state. Before combustion can occur, heating oil must first be vaporized and turned into a fine mist by the burner at temperatures above 140°.

No dangerous surprises. Oil heat poses a very low risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If an oil burner malfunctions (most often due to a lack of maintenance), the safety devices in the unit will typically shut the furnace off. Other heating sources—like natural gas—usually do not afford a homeowner this protection.

Bottom line: It’s a myth that heating oil cannot be safely stored inside a home.

2. What’s More Efficient?

Most people who have owned an oil-heated home will tell you that “cozy comfort” is one of the best benefits of oil heat. When temperatures drop to the single digits, as they did last winter, people really appreciate their oil-heated homes. What’s the secret? Efficiency!

Oil packs a wallop of heating energy, providing comfort and efficiency. For every gallon of oil burned, nearly 140,000 Btu’s of heat are produced. That’s the equivalent of about 70,000 60-watt lightbulbs. That’s why heating oil consumers get about 40% more for their heating dollar than the folks who heat their homes with natural gas.

New technologies have dramatically increased the efficiency of heating with oil. Because of these advances, homeowners who heat with oil typically use 50% fewer gallons of oil per year than in the 1970s—700 gallons now versus 1,400 gallons back then.*

Bottom line: It’s a myth that natural gas is a more efficient heating fuel than heating oil.

*Source: National Oilheat Research Alliance

3. Let’s Crank up the Heat!

Thermostat

Have you done this before? It’s a super-cold winter evening and you arrive at a home that feels chilly. You immediately stride to your thermostat and move the temperature setting as high as it will go. You smile as you hear the burner kick on. Now, you think, the house is going to get warm really fast. But is that the truth…or a myth?

The fact is, your furnace or boiler doesn’t work like a car—there is no gas pedal to step on to make it go faster. Your system will produce heat at the same rate regardless of whether your thermostat is set to 68° or 85°. Setting the thermostat higher just makes your system work longer and burn more fuel.

TIP: For better temperature control, trade in your old digital or manual thermostat for a wireless remote smart thermostat. After you register it online, you can access it from any location and adjust temperatures for both comfort and savings.

Bottom line: It’s a myth that your home heats up faster when you turn the thermostat all the way up.

4. Get What You Pay For

It seems logical. Your old, 50% efficient boiler has reached the end of the line and you replace it with a new oil boiler with an 85% efficiency rating. With such a big boost in energy efficiency, all you have to do now is sit back and count all the money you will save on heat for years to come. This is true—under one important condition: Your new boiler needs to be sized and installed correctly.

Piggy bank

Sizing it up. Sizing refers to how much Btu power the system has. If a contractor installs something too powerful (oversized), it will give you more heat than you need, wasting energy and money. But if the system doesn’t have enough power (undersized), your home will not feel comfortable; you will also spend more on fuel because the boiler will keep turning on.

To determine how much power your home’s heating system needs, we do tests to figure out how much heat your home loses in the winter.

Installing it right. Once we select a properly sized system, we install it the right way. This requires skilled technicians with specialized training. The biggest mistake people make when they purchase new equipment is choosing the wrong contractor. Some contractors will be glad to sell you equipment at a low price—but won’t be available if it doesn’t work properly. Or you may encounter a salesman who wants to sell you “the latest thing”—but won’t tell you about design flaws that cause the system to work poorly.

Bottom line: Installing a new heating system will increase energy efficiency and save you money as long as the boiler or furnace is sized and installed correctly.

Heather Nareto

Ask Heather

Heather Nareto

Q: If there’s a winter storm warning, should I call for a fill-up even if I’m signed up for automatic deliveries?

A: If you get automatic deliveries, you never have to worry about calling for fuel: We use a proven system that factors in the forecast as well as your past usage so we know how much you have and when you will need more.

If you are not signed up for automatic deliveries, it’s important to give us enough time to schedule your delivery — especially if bad weather is expected. Keep an eye on your Ask Heather gauge — we recommend calling for more fuel when your tank reaches the one-quarter mark. This gives us enough notice to get a delivery truck to you.

Better still, give us a call to see if you qualify for automatic deliveries: the service is free, and the peace of mind is priceless.

safety first fireplace

Safety First!

Fireplace safety

Please keep these safety tips in mind — they are especially important if you use portable space heaters and fireplaces during the winter.

  • Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room.
  • Always use a screen with wood fireplaces, and be sure ashes are completely cooled before removing them from the hearth.
  • Have your chimney professionally cleaned every year.
  • Make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning.
  • Keep any combustible materials away from heating sources, including boilers, furnaces, fireplaces and space heaters.
  • Never use gasoline or lighter fluid in any indoor fireplace.
  • Have a licensed technician check your gas hearth annually.