Full-Service Bioheat® fuel dealers serve as a "one-stop shop" for home heating products and services. They deliver fuel, offer cost management programs, install and service equipment, and offer service contracts that protect customers' boilers and furnaces. They also deliver peace of mind - providing emergency service all year round.
Volatile energy prices pose challenges for businesses and homeowners, and NYSEC full-service Bioheat® fuel dealers offer a variety of plans to limit risk and make payments predictable. Customers are advised to familiarize themselves with the different options and their implications. Price programs are designed to provide predictability and peace of mind.
Budget Plans: Many customers use budget plans to spread out their heating costs. The dealer projects the customer's total cost for the next year and divides it into equal payments to be paid over nine to 12 months. It's a great way for homeowners to avoid the winter budget pinch that can occur when expenses for heating and the holidays mount simultaneously.
Capped Price Programs: Price volatility has made price caps very popular because they protect against both increases and decreases in Bioheat® fuel prices. The customer gets a guaranteed price cap, or maximum price that the dealer will not exceed, and which protects against rising prices. If the market price drops, the customer's price decreases. The dealer incurs additional fees when offering price protection, and many dealers ask their customers to cover some of those costs with an annual enrollment fee.
Fixed Price Programs: Under this plan, the price of Bioheat® fuel is fixed for a given period of time and will not go up or down. If the retail price goes up, the cost to the customer remains the same. Conversely, if the price goes down, the consumer doesn't benefit. Fixed price plans are good for people who need to know how much their fuel is going to cost throughout the season, so they can budget the rest of their expenses accordingly.
Pre-Buy Programs: Some dealers offer customers the chance to buy all their fuel in advance of the heating season at a reduced cost.
A home or building needs reliable heat on very cold days, both to keep the occupants warm and to prevent potentially catastrophic situations such as frozen pipes. Full-service NYSEC Bioheat® fuel dealers provide emergency service response 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Customers can rest assured that if they experience a heat outage, they can call their dealer and get through at any hour. Highly trained technicians are available around the clock to visit the site and perform whatever work is required to restore the heat. It is an indispensable benefit for customers who choose a full-service dealer.
Automatic delivery is a great choice for customers who don't want to concern themselves with checking the fuel gauge and calling their Bioheat® fuel dealer to request deliveries. The dealer develops a schedule based on the customer's past usage and adjusts the schedule as the heating season progresses to account for variations in weather. A degree day tracking system can be used in conjunction with scheduling software to maintain an accurate schedule.
One of the most important benefits of working with a full-service Bioheat® fuel dealer is the chance to stay current with the most advanced, efficient Bioheat® fuel equipment. Many NYSEC member dealers are equipment specialists who work closely with customers to keep their systems up to date and achieve optimal fuel efficiency at the most reasonable cost possible.
Advances in equipment technology are incorporated with each new design, and older equipment generally becomes obsolete in terms of efficiency long before it stops working. The ENERGY STAR® Web site www.energystar.gov recommends that homeowners consider replacing any boiler or furnace that is more than 15 years old.
The most direct path to fuel savings is to replace outdated equipment with new ENERGY STAR®-rated systems. A full-service Bioheat® fuel dealer offers new systems that can save 30 percent or more. That's like replacing an 18-mpg SUV with a 25-mpg sedan, but with one major difference - the owner sacrifices nothing! In fact, new heating systems actually improve comfort while conserving fuel.
The newest systems incorporate two-stage heating, in which the burner has a high-fire mode for colder days (and other times of high demand, like when multiple showers are going) and an economizing low-fire mode for milder days. Many new systems also employ condensing technology, which improves efficiency by using a secondary heat exchanger to draw additional heat from the flame. That means more heat goes into the building, and less is wasted up the chimney.
Warning Signs That Your System May Need Upgrading ...
- Uneven heating throughout your home or building.
- A time lag between turning the heat on and feeling the warmth.
- More frequent breakdowns and service calls.
- Rising energy consumption even when you turn the temperature down.
- Noticeable soot and/or loud noise.
- Your equipment takes up too much room.
- An efficiency test result of less than 80%. If it cannot be increased with minor tuning/changes, it may make economic sense to replace your heating system. New systems typically produce 90% or more efficiency test results.
- Your system is 15 years old or more.
The Benefits of Upgrading
- You can save money on your annual heating bills.
- More comfort. Your home is heated faster and more evenly.
- A more compact design. Today's units are often one-third the size of their "ancestors."
- Fewer service calls. Middle-of-the-night breakdowns are virtually eliminated.
- Cleaner burning, so it's better for the environment.
- Quiet operation - no more clanks, groans and bangs!
- A new heating system is one of the top five investments you can make in your home and is an excellent selling point when your home is on the market.
Calculate Your Potential Savings
The Fuel Savings Analysis Calculator developed by the National Oilheat Research Alliance can demonstrate the savings you could achieve by upgrading your heating system. It is easy to use and provides customized calculations based on your current equipment, your location and a range of choices in replacement equipment. Click here to use the calculator.
Water Heater Upgrades
Hot water generation accounts for about 20% of a home or building's fuel costs. A full-service Bioheat® fuel dealer can provide a building or home with a choice of cost-saving water-heating options, including systems that combine solar energy with Bioheat® fuel.
An owner who wants a hot water supply that never seems to run out should consider a direct-fired water heater. Bioheat® fuel burns hotter than utility gas, so recovery time is faster, and the occupants are less likely to run out during periods of heavy usage. Whether a building is heated by furnace or boiler, you can use a direct-fired model that has its own burner and tank. Buildings that heat by boiler also have the "indirect" alternative that uses the boiler to heat the hot water. Here are brief descriptions of the different model types of indirect-fired water heaters.
Internal Tankless Coil: The coil containing the domestic water supply is located in the water jacket of the boiler. One drawback to this design is the absence of hot water storage; another is the need to maintain the temperature of the boiler water at a high enough level to heat the domestic water as it passes through the coil.
External Tankless Coil: This water heater has a separate storage tank that contains an internal coil. The unit connects to the sides of the boiler. A newer version of the external tankless coil water heater is the plate heat exchanger. It contains a series of wafers or plates with internal porting; plates alternate between boiler water and domestic water.
Tankless Coil with Storage Tank (or Aqua Booster): This system was introduced to boost water heating capacity. After water has been heated by going through the indirect system's coil, it is stored in a vertical storage tank. The temperature of the hot water in the tank is usually maintained by means of a recirculating loop; it allows water to be reheated by going back to the coil, either by gravity or forced circulation.
Full-service NYSEC Bioheat® fuel dealers generally offer service plans to protect the customer's heating equipment and keep it running properly. Also known as a maintenance plan or contract, a typical service plan includes periodic system maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer. By regularly inspecting and tuning a system, a Bioheat® fuel dealer can fix small problems before they turn serious.
Most service plans include 24-hour emergency response, so the customer knows that help will be on the way any time they experience a problem with their heating system. Some service plans also cover major components of the heating system, guaranteeing that repairs and replacements will be made at no cost to the customer.
Dealers offer different levels of coverage to suit the customer's budget and needs. Service plan coverage ranges from basic parts service and annual tune-up to all-inclusive, top-of-the-line plans that can cover the repair and/or replacement of over 100 parts and include replacement allowances for storage tanks, boilers, heat exchangers or furnaces.
State and Federal Assistance
The State of New York administers programs that help residents who are struggling with the expense of heating and weatherizing their homes.
- Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance administers HEAP, which helps eligible households pay heating bills, even if heat is included in the rent. Crisis benefits are available for households that run out of fuel. For information on where to apply, call 1-800-342-3009 or visit www.otda.state.ny.us.
- Weatherization Assistance Program. This program aims to reduce heating costs by improving energy efficiency. Funds can be used for insulation, heating system repairs or replacements, and more. Eligibility is based on income. For information, contact the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal.
- New York Energy $martSM Loan Program. This program provides an interest rate reduction off a participating lender's normal loan interest rate for a term up to 10 years on loans for certain energy-efficiency improvements and/or renewable technologies. Owners of existing 1-4 family homes can qualify for reduced rates on loans up to $20,000. Most improvements must be installed by a Building Performance Institute-accredited Home Performance Contractor with the exception of loans for the purchase of ENERGY STAR® Appliances. Owners of existing multifamily buildings can qualify for reduced rates on loans of up to $5,000 per unit.