By Bob Miodonski of Contractor’s staff
Hershey, Pa. — Members of the National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers met here May 15-17 and were briefed on a new program that promises to raise the industry’s level of marketing, training and research.
Distribution of funds collected by the National Oilheat Research Alliance began April 25. Distributors and dealers approved the creation of nora earlier this year after Congress passed enabling legislation.
Nora empowers distributors and some Western dealers to collect two-tenths of a cent per every gallon of heating oil purchased in 21 states. Nora money will be used to ensure that:
The public knows the benefit of heating with oil;
Technicians have the training to provide the best service to customers; and
Research to improve heating oil and the equipment it fuels continues.
The rationale behind nora is easy to appreciate, according to members of the oil-heating industry.
"Oil heat provides the best space and water heating option in many markets," a nora brochure states. "Several studies by the U.S. Department of Energy have shown oil heat to be the most cost-efficient fuel in its prime marketing area. However, not all consumers are aware of this, and without marketing and education, they may not be in a position to evaluate the many benefits of oil heat."
Nora supporters hope the marketing campaign will meet with the same success as similar programs in other industries. They point to the beef industry’s "It’s what’s for dinner"; pork’s "The other white meat"; and "Got milk?" All these "check-off" programs are funded by money collected voluntarily from industry participants.
Funds not used for marketing will be directed toward technical training and research.
"New technologies can continue to improve the fuel for our customers," according to nora. "With nora, several technologies already being researched can be supported further. These include environmentally sophisticated burners, improvements in fuel quality and combustion, self-adjusting boilers and furnaces to provide maximum efficiency and electricity generation from silicon chips that use radiance within a burner’s firing chamber as their energy source."
Since collection of money only began March 1, nora points out, some of the program’s main objectives may have to wait until the next heating season to really get going. Still, funding may get an early boost from doe through matching funds, which may reach as high as a 4-to-1 ratio.
"Doe is outlining ways to work with the oil-heat industry in developing an aggressive research and development program," said Douglas Woosnam, nora’s R-&-D chairman. "Oil heat can now invest substantial research and development funds as other industries do to ensure relevance in the high-tech future of America."
Participating states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.