Heating and Cooling FAQs

Solutions to our most commonly asked questions about home heating, cooling, and indoor air quality.

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Biodiesel

1) What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is the name of a clean-burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.

2) Can I use biodiesel fuel in my diesel vehicle?

Actually, the diesel engine was engineered to run on peanut oil. Biodiesel (diesel fuel blended with refined soybean oil) can be used in any diesel-powered vehicle. Biodiesel produces similar horsepower, torque and fuel consumption.

Bioheat

1) What is Bioheat fuel?

Our Bioheat fuel is a B5 blend of 5% soybean oil, a biodegradable oil made from the soybean crops grown in the United States, and 95% petroleum-based home heating oil. By using it, you reduce our dependency on foreign oil and support U.S. agriculture.

2) Does bioheating oil (Bioheat) cost more?

It is comparable to regular heating oil prices and will fluctuate like regular heating oil. This is due to the percentage of petroleum that is still in our product.

Currently, our customers are taking advantage of The New York State Refundable Clean Heating Fuel Tax Credit. This personal tax credit allows residential Bioheat users to claim one cent per gallon for each percent of biodiesel up to a B20 blend. We currently offer B5, so you are entitled to recoup five cents per gallon as a bioheat tax credit at the end of the year.

Bioheat is an environmentally friendly fuel, cutting foreign imports, reducing emissions and supporting our American farmers. Bioheat is cleaner, healthier and better for your home.

3) Can I use bioheating oil (Bioheat) in my present heating system?

Yes, you can use Bioheat in any oil-fired heating system with little or no modifications. A lot of testing has been done and the results have shown that using bioheating fuel improves combustion, lowers emissions, and lowers soot build up providing better indoor air quality for you and your family.

4) Why is Bioheat better for my health?

Burning heating oil produces toxic air emissions like carbon monoxide, particulates, and smog-forming compounds.

Tests showed that the use of Bioheat in a standard home oil burner resulted in a substantial reduction in unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter compared to emissions from distillate fuels, thus making the air around your home healthier.

Additionally, using Bioheat helps reduce emissions of sulfur oxides and sulfates(major components of acid rain), which are a main cause in global warming.

5) How does Bioheat help me reduce my dependence on foreign oil?

The US imports around 60% of its petroleum oil. Switching to Bioheat will assure that up to 20% of the fuel you consume was produced by American farmers.

If everyone using heating oil used a B5 blend (5% biodiesel/95% heating oil), 400 million gallons of regular heating oil could be conserved. This would be a big step towards conserving oil, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Heating Oil

1) What is the difference between a furnace and a boiler?

To heat the home a furnace uses air and a boiler uses water. A furnace uses the flame from the oil burner to heat air, which is distributed throughout the house. A boiler uses the flame to heat water that is either sent around the house in pipes to radiators, or is sent to a fan coil unit that heats air which is distributed via ductwork.

2) What is the difference between "Will-Call" delivery and "Automatic" delivery?

"Will-Call" delivery means that you need to monitor your own consumption of heating oil (level of heating oil in your tank) and call us to place an order when you need more fuel.

"Automatic" delivery is easy, convenient, and you never have to worry about running out of fuel.

Automatic delivery means that John Ray & Sons will automatically determine when you need heating oil by using degree day monitoring. You should never need to call us to order or schedule a delivery. We will automatically deliver fuel on a regular basis and you can rest assured you will never be without heat.

3) Is it normal for my oil tank to give off an odor?

No, a properly functioning oil tank should not produce odors. If you notice an oil smell in the building it may be a sign that there is a problem with your tank, the piping or your heating appliance. Please contact John Ray & Sons for diagnosis.

4) What kinds of oil heating systems are available?

Today's versatile oil heat systems can heat with water, steam or warm air. Additionally, a boiler can dispense hot air through the home by using hydro-air. Thus, any oil heating system is compatible with air conditioning. Oil heat is also a terrific option if you are interested in radiant heat.

5) What creates such a cozy feeling in my home when I heat with heating oil?

You can feel the difference with oil heat. There are many technological reasons that contribute to oil heat's legendary warmth. A high percentage of oil-heated systems are hydronic rather than warm air. Hydronic systems provide a more steady heat. Oil-heat systems are sized to provide very fast recovery times for both space and water heating. Oil-heat systems suffer very low infiltration losses; that is they draw relatively little air out of the building that must be replaced by cold outside air.

6) What is degree day monitoring?

The degree day system was developed by heating engineers who wanted a method to relate each day's temperatures to the demand for fuel to heat and cool buildings.

To calculate the heating degree days for a particular day, find the day's average temperature by adding that day's high and low temperatures and then dividing by two. If the number is above 65, there is no heating degree days that day. If the number is less than 65, dealers subtract it from 65 to find the number of heating degree days.

For example, if the day's high temperature is 60 and the low is 40, the average temperature is 50 degrees. 65 minus 50 equals 15 heating degree days.

Cooling degree days are also based on the day's average minus 65. They relate the day's temperature to the energy demands of air conditioning. For example, if the day's high is 90 and the day's low is 70, the day's average is 80. 80 minus 65 is 15 cooling degree days.

Propane

1) What is a leak test? Why do I need one?

Leak tests are required any time there is an interruption of service meaning the flow of gas was stopped for any reason.

During normal usage, a propane plumbing system is at a constant pressure. This means that as long as the tank has gas and is supplying the system with propane, a constant pressure is exerted on the piping and pipe joint compound. Any loss of gas pressure may cause leaks to form because of the expansion and retraction of the piping compound within the propane plumbing system.

The leak test will indicate any leaks within the propane piping system due to interruption of service or out-of-gas situation. The leakage test is simply testing the integrity of the system plumbing joints and the seal of the pipe joint compound. If you have shut off your propane supply valves or run out of propane, please call us so we can perform a leak check and re-light your pilot.

2) Is propane an environmentally friendly fuel?

Propane, one of the cleanest burning fuels available, is the clear choice for our environment. It emits lower levels of carbon dioxide and particulates and doesn't produce sulfur dioxide, a primary cause of the greenhouse effect. Propane is non-toxic and vaporizes quickly, so it won't contaminate soil or groundwater.

Propane is also a natural by-product of the gas refining process and in plentiful supply - there's enough propane to meet America's needs in the 21st century. Most of the propane used in the US is produced right here. All these factors make propane one of the most versatile fuels you can find.

3) Is propane safe to use in my home?

Propane is a safe fuel to use in your home and business. Propane has a narrow range of flammability and cannot be ingested like gasoline or alcohol fuels because it is released as a vapor from a pressured container. In addition, award-winning preventive maintenance programs like GAS Check(TM) (Gas Appliance System Check) ensure that homeowners understand how to properly maintain their propane appliances and enjoy a healthy, safe environment.

4) Does propane offer advantages over electricity?

According to the US Dept. of Energy, it could cost up to twice as much to operate your range, water heater, dryer or furnace with electricity than with propane gas. Propane gas furnaces and heaters provide more consistent warm air throughout your home at a lower cost than electric heat pumps and have a longer average life span of 20 years, compared with electric heat pumps' 12-year average life span.

5) How should propane tanks be stored?

Propane tanks should be stored outside. Do not store any propane tanks in the garage or any other indoor areas at any time, even during the winter months. As for excessive heat, propane tanks should only be filled to 80 percent of the tank's capacity. This is to allow for some liquid propane expansion that might occur during hot days.

6) Who uses propane?

Propane is a trusted and reliable energy source that is used by millions of Americans each day. It fulfills energy needs by burning cleanly and efficiently, giving consumers more value for their energy dollar. People use propane in or outside their homes for furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, outdoor grills and appliances; on farms; for industrial uses such as forklifts and fleet vehicles; and in millions of commercial establishments, including restaurants and hotels that depend on propane for heating, cooking and other uses.

7) Why does propane smell so bad?

Natural propane is odorless so an odorant is added to the fuel to allow for early detection of gas leaks.

8) What should I do if I think my propane appliance has been damaged or shut off?

If you suspect any of your propane appliances or equipment have been under water or damaged, or you have turned off your gas supply:

1. Call us and one of our in-house service technicians will be dispatched to perform a complete inspection of your propane system. We will also perform a leak test and re-light your pilot lights.

2. DO NOT use or operate the appliances or equipment or turn the gas supply back on until your system has been inspected by a qualified service technician.

Service

1) Why should I schedule regular maintenance on my oil heat equipment?

A: According to the EPA, heating equipment that is maintained annually uses 13% less fuel than units that are not. Maintenance extends the life of your heating equipment by as much as 20-30% which can translate into 5 to 10 years of additional usage for a furnace or boiler. Approximately 75% of all emergency repairs can be avoided with regular maintenance.

A complete professional tune-up generally takes from one to two hours. It typically includes a series of safety and operating tests and any needed adjustments. These include, among many others, testing the draft, the stack temperature, burner operation and system efficiency.

2) What is the difference between Automatic Delivery and Will-Call?

Automatic delivery means that an Oilheat dealer will automatically determine when a customer needs fuel by using degree day monitoring. The customer does not need to place a call to the dealer for a delivery. The dealer will automatically deliver fuel on a regular basis and the customer is assured of never running out of fuel.

Will-call means that a customer will monitor their own consumption and will call the dealer when a delivery is needed.

3) What do I do if I smell heating oil?

You should not smell heating oil if your heating system is working properly. An oil smell could come from a leak, combustion or burner troubles, heat exchanger failure or exhaust system problems. Call us to make arrangements to correct the situation. If you have a leak, we'll remove the oil and get the smell out of your home.