Biofuel catching on in the home-heating arena

Using biofuel — a mix of vegetable oil and diesel — to power vehicles is already popular in certain highly vocal circles, but using biofuel to heat homes is just starting to catch on. A recent surge has taken place largely in the U.S. Northeast, where there remains a large concentration of houses that use heating oil. Proponents tout the fact that biofuel produces far less soot and thus requires less furnace cleaning, which we’re told is a nasty business. They are also motivated by a desire to support energy independence and the domestic economy. “About 20 out of every 100 gallons of bioheat goes to American farmers and producers instead of unstable foreign countries,” says biofuel user Charles Kleekamp. Though it currently costs roughly 10 to 20 cents more per gallon than regular heating fuel, mainly because of the paucity of manufacturing facilities (Northeast biofuel is transported all the way from Florida), enthusiasts hope that rising demand will drive down prices. Already a biodiesel production facility is in the works for Providence, R.I., for next year.