Thursday, March 27, 2008

Heating Your Home . . . With Soybean Oil?

I recently talked with a representative from a company that is offering biofuel as a home heating option. “Biofuel” sounds impressive—add “bio” as a prefix to any word, and I’m impressed—and it certainly has the potential to be great. But I’m not sure it’s there yet.

Don’t get me wrong, any little step we do to save the planet is a step in the right direction. But I have a problem with little steps being represented as giant leaps. Biofuel typically comes in a variety called B5, which means it’s composed of 95% conventional home heating oil and 5% grown-in-the-USA soybean oil. B5 can be used in conventional tanks and is endorsed by the heating industry. It not only reduces CO2 emissions, but it often costs less than pure home heating oil. All that's great, but it's still 95% polluting oil.

Some people use B20, although that percentage hasn’t yet received the heating industry’s stamp of approval. During my interview with the representative from my local biofuel provider, they mentioned that some people, in warm climates, use B100. Now that’s impressive.

Of course, some critics say that soybean oil, grown in the United States or not, is more destructive to the environment than oil. I have a feeling those people have investments in the oil industry.

Question of the blog: If you use biofuel, do you have any insight for those considering making the switch?

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