PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- It's about this time of year when homeowners in Maine start thinking about the same thing: Heating their homes and how much that's going to cost this winter.

As of July, Maine is now required to deliver a new, cleaner home heating oil. Jamie Py, CEO of he Maine Energy Marketers Association, says ultra low sulfur heating oil is the cleanest heating oil in the world, with emissions similar to natural gas.

This week, Governor Paul LePage's Energy Office released findings of its latest survey, showing the average price statewide of heating oil is up 24% from this same time last year.

We heard from one viewer who wanted to know more about the rise in cost.

"What is this new fuel all about?" they wrote. "How is it supposed to save money? And what can Mainers expect for the winter ahead?"

Alan Dorr of Dead River Company says low sulfur heating oil is similar to diesel fuel.

"In the older heating oil we had 3,000 parts per million sulfur," he said. "The new heating oil is 15 parts per million sulfur."

According to the Maine Energy Marketers Association, the cleaner burning fuel will prolong the life of your heating equipment. So long term, you won't be paying more frequently to replace your home's boiler or furnace. The CEO of the association also says the increase in the price of heating oil is not from the new cleaner heating oil, it's due to the rise of crude oil barrel prices.

"What the marketplace is seeing is a pretty robust increase in the cost of heating oil and diesel and gasoline and crude basically the whole petroleum complex has gone up over the last year," said Dorr. "Very little of that can be attributed to the cost of ultra low sulfur heating oil versus the old high sulfur heating oil."

What can Mainers expect in the winter ahead?

"There are so many factors that impact the price of oil that it's very difficult to predict what's going to happen in the future," he said. "Even in the near future."

But there are ways to reduce your energy use and save money from MaineEnergyFacts.com:

  • Vacuum baseboard heating units so dust isn't blocking the heat.
  • Keep closet doors closed.
  • Open curtains during the day to let heat from the sun in -- close them at night to trap heat in.
  • And set ceiling fans to rotate clockwise to push heat down.