At Home with Biodiesel

John Davis

heatingoil.jpgThere’s been plenty of talk about using biodiesel in our vehicles. But some people might not know that the green fuel is good for keeping your home warm on these cold winter nights.

This story in the Eugene (OR) Register-Guard says one company in that area has overwhelming support for biodiesel as a home-heating oil:

Automatic Heat serves about 2,000 customers with oil furnaces, “and about 85 percent are using biodiesel — it’s pretty much clipping right along,” (Automatic Heat general manager Michael) Schilling said. “We offer our customers a B20 blend of 20 percent biofuel and 80 percent low-sulfur (diesel). We don’t go higher because, like cars, some fuel systems can’t handle more than that without modifications.”

Even at that level, the blend “makes a huge impact on emissions,” he said. Eventually, when heating systems that can run 99 percent biofuel become readily available, “if customers are educated about biofuel, I think they’ll want to change,” he said.

Before Automatic Heat began offering biodiesel heating oil two years ago, “we polled our customers and told them we were considering it,” Schilling said. “At that time, about 70 percent of them said they wanted it, even at premium prices.”

Proponents of oil-burning furnaces point out that they burn hotter and do a better job of warming a home than other fuels, such as natural gas. Plus, with cleaner-burning, low-sulfur diesels mixed biodiesels, the arguments about that sooty, diesel smell fall flat. And if that’s not enough, most home furnaces can easily burn B20 biodiesel, and with approval from a certified home heating technician, 99.9 percent biodiesel can be used.