Once again, the door is closing on warm weather here in Maine.

In my house, that’s a figurative and literal occurrence as the door to the foundation-less front room, a former porch that was enclosed to create an additional living space, gets closed to save money on heating oil.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

I grew up in a home with closed doors all around when the weather turned cold. Closet doors were closed; spare rooms were closed off and, of course, attic doors were weatherproofed so not a molecule of warmth would be wasted on those useless spaces.

I do the same, with gusto. Doing so, however, can create a musty, moldy environment in those rooms. Running a dehumidifier in the basement, however, seems to help the whole house stay mold-free.

Winter in Maine comes with its challenges – driving in snow and enduring power outages among them. But the biggest daily challenge is keeping the house warm while not having to take out a second mortgage to pay for it all.

Well-off folks turn up the heat without a second thought. But people on low incomes try to save money by turning the thermostat as low as possible, just enough to keep the water flowing in their pipes. I used to be one of these penny-wise, pound-foolish people. My pipes froze twice one winter, which cost me more money in the long run.

While it may cost money to stay warm, we should be thankful for one thing: We have easy access to heating oil, which is no small thing since warmth is a basic human need. We may have to rearrange our spending priorities to afford it, but at least we don’t have to worry about finding oil to heat our homes. There are plenty of delivery companies (though finding drivers in recent years has been an issue), and ships arrive regularly to the tank farm in South Portland to refill our needs.

While alternative heating strategies such as electricity, natural gas, propane, geothermal, wood pellets and biofuel garner popular attention, good ol’ oil heat has great advantages. I did a little research online and found the following tidbits of useful information. We take oil for granted but here are a few reasons we shouldn’t:

Heating oil is not explosive. You could drop a lit match into your oil tank and it wouldn’t explode or even ignite. Likewise, leaks won’t explode, either. Try that with natural gas or propane. On second thought don’t or you might end up with a situation similar to the recent Farmington explosion involving leaking propane.

Modern heating oil is 85-95% efficient, making it more efficient than natural gas, propane and electricity. You also get more bang, or BTUs, for your buck – 35% more than natural gas.

Oil burns 300 degrees hotter than natural gas, meaning your home heats more quickly.

Some 28.6 million Americans burn with oil. With scale comes lower rates for consumers, about 30 percent cheaper compared with natural gas.

Modern heating oil is more environmentally friendly. The advent of ultra-low sulfur oil has greatly improved cleanliness and system efficiency, from 4,000 parts per million of sulfur in traditional oil to only 15 ppm in modern heating oil. Some sources say new heating oil furnaces don’t contribute to air pollution, in fact.

So if you use heating oil, it’s probably wise to stick with it, despite the hubbub circulating around new alternatives. If you don’t, you may want to switch back. It seems there’s safety in numbers when it comes to oil.

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