As of July 1 of this year, all fuel delivered in our state is mandated to be ultra-low sulfur heating oil (ULSHO) with a sulfur content standard of 15 ppm (parts per million).
So what is Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil (ULSHO)? Simply put, it is heating oil with substantially lower sulfur content (similar to Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel shift in 2006 for diesel vehicles). As an example, ASTM #2 Fuel Oil with a very high sulfur content has sulfur in the range of 5,780 ppm (parts per million); low sulfur heating oil measures around 322 ppm; and an ULSHO can have around 15 ppm sulfur content.
How will this benefit Mainers? First of all – it is extremely clean burning – ULSHO is the cleanest ever produced, emitting next to zero particulates. Burning ULSHO also cuts sulfur dioxide emissions by 75 percent and nitrous oxide emissions by 10 percent compared to previous heating oil. Next, it improves heating efficiency – ULSHO has the highest BTU content of any alternative fuel. Plus, it reduces sooting and scaling compared to regular heating oil. This means you’ll get more heat in your house and less lost up your chimney. If you had natural gas, you’d have to burn about 40 percent more to receive the equivalent heating benefit of ULSHO heating oil.
What is the impact on the environment? With a decrease in the sulfur content, we can expect a greater reduction in Green House Gas Emissions and these numbers are expected to continue improving. The lower the sulfur content in your fuel means your heating system will emit less sulfur dioxide which would have contributed to acid rain and haze. The EPA estimates that this improvement will reduce deaths in people with lung and heart disease, produce fewer cases of exacerbated asthma, and less time missed from school or work due to poor air quality.
To sum it all up…Ultra-Low Sulfur Heating Oil is right for your home, right for the environment, and right for Maine. It is safer, healthier, and more energy efficient than its predecessors. It also Increases equipment life . Cleaner fuel also means less build up in the exhaust system of your oil heater. This in turn means less maintenance and a longer life for your equipment. ULSHO is also creating more American jobs and reducing our need for foreign oil. The future is now, and it’s looking brighter than ever!