An increasing number of New Canaanites are turning toward a more environmentally friendly type of home heating oil—a change that’s had a measurably positive impact on emissions, according to a company with local ties that offers the product.
About 300 New Canaan customers of Westmore Fuel now are using bio-fuel, according to company officials. A blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent ultra-low conventional heating oil, the “BioHeat”-brand product is said by Westmore to be cleaner than natural gas and has the following environmental impact locally:
Average Annual Environmental Impact, BioHeat in New Canaan*
|Pounds of Emissions Reductions||-162.89||-213.46||-1,808||-112.2||-478,324|
** PM=particulate matter, HC=hydrocarbon, CO=carbon monoxide, SO2= sulfur dioxide, CO2=carbon dioxide
A Greenwich-based business that had been founded in Port Chester, N.Y. by the Bologna family, Westmore began as an ice and coal provider. This year, 2017, marks Westmore’s 70th year offering fuel oil and in the last decade it has transitioned to bio-fuel exclusively—a singular commitment to the earth-friendly product that the company’s oil delivery manager, New Canaan resident Sean Lytle, said reflects the company’s pursuit of “the latest and greatest [products] out there.”
“We are less reliant on foreign oil and the biggest thing is that we are figuring out how to make an environmental impact,” Lytle told NewCanaanite.com on a recent morning. “The biggest competitor [to bio-fuel] is natural gas, and when you factor in BioHeat and ultra-low sulfur diesel, it [bio-fuel] burns much cleaner and much safer.”
Westmore has its own 1.2 million-gallon terminal with BioHeat fuel in Westchester, and offers the product at a 20 cent-per-gallon tax incentive in New York State.
The company has been serving New Canaan since the 1940s and its residential and commercial clients give Westmore high marks on its product and service.
Ed Kirk, facilities director at New Canaan Country School, said the school is in its second heating season with Westmore and “we have had a really good experience with them.”
“We had a longtime relationship with an other oil company prior to moving to Westmore and the prior oil company did not offer bio-fuel and that was a priority for us,” said Kirk, who had worked for five years before NCCS as energy manager for Johns Hopkins. “So we looked at companies in the area that offered and supported it and Westmore is the only one you can find.”
“Sustainability is in our mission statement as a school and Country School has a long history of incorporating sustainability into our curriculum, socially and financially. So when it comes to us, we are located in a part of New Canaan that does not have natural gas, so our options are electric, oil or propane for fuel for heating and when I came to this school a couple of years ago, we had existing boilers and were burning oil. So my immediate question was: How can we do a better job with oil use? Cnserving quantity of oil is important, and using a blend less reliant on fossil fuels is really important to us, as well.”
According to Kirk, there’s a false belief among some that bio-fuel requires higher levels of maintenance but it’s not so. “
“Bio-fuel actually cleans your tanks by clearing the sludge out of storage tanks,” Kirk said.
Country School did not need to change any of its existing infrastructure and burns about 70,000 to 80,000 gallons per year, purchasing bio-fuel at a lower cost than it had bought regular heating oil in the past.
“It’s the best of both worlds—a more sustainable product at a better price,” Kirk said. “That, to us, is huge.”
Westmore offers “a clean product,” Kirk said.
“I would say it’s cleaner and we have been really pleased with it and they were only ones in this area willing to sell it to us without all sorts of restrictions, where they were protecting themselves not us. They were treating it like any other heating oil.”
Julia Crowell, a New Canaan resident for nearly 10 years and Westmore customer for two, said her experience with the family-owned business has been “wonderful.”
“I switched from a bigger oil company because I was having issues with annual service, it could be three, four five months to get a service person here, so I was just getting frustrated and wanted to go to a smaller shop,” she said. “I don’t know if they are actually smaller but you get sense that they are because they’re so easy to deal with, call and the come right out. Easy and efficient.”
Crowell added that she’s saving money with Westmore—about $1,500 per hearing season.
“Everything just runs well,” she said.