Census: Maine homes continue switch from heating oil

For better or for worse, homeowners continued to shift away from heating their homes with No. 2 oil as more install natural gas and propane systems.

Data released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show the share of Maine homes using heating oil dropped by a statistically significant amount in 2014, as falling crude oil prices lowered heating oil and gasoline prices.

The chart below shows the estimated share of heating fuels used in Maine homes from 2010 to 2014, showing only those that had a statistically significant change over that period.

Granted, crude oil prices didn’t really start to plummet until about August of last year. And it’s a valid question whether that dip should factor into long-term home heating decisions. One could certainly make the case that pushing out a planned upgrade for a year makes sense this winter.

The numbers also demonstrate some effect of state policies aimed at helping homeowners wean off of heating oil, though about two-thirds of Mainers still use the that fuel come winter.

And the four-year figures show that natural gas wasn’t the only fuel to gain. The number of homes heated with wood rose from 2010 to 2014, as did homes heated with propane and other fuels.

The latest numbers show the continuation of longer-term home heating trends, after fuel oil’s decline that began in 2000.

 

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.