Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oil At Home

Our heating oil company mailed out their winter heating contracts. I appreciate that small, independent oil companies are in the unenviable position of delivering home heating oil to consumers, billing them for it and trying to collect the payments from them. I realize that they are at the mercy of the huge oil corporations, oil commodities markets, speculators, politics and international cartels. But the 2008-2009 lock-in price is over $4.50 a gallon! And the non-refundable downward price protection insurance fee has doubled and is up to 40 cents per gallon - pushing the price up to nearly $5.00 a gallon!

I know the recent drops in the price of a barrel of oil cannot and should not be construed as a trend, but Chuck and I are loathe to lock in. And we can’t imagine locking in without the downward price protection. So, I think this year we’re going to roll the dice and pay the cash price all winter - no guarantees, no up front insurance fees. It’s a risk. But this year the contract feels like too much of a high stakes gamble.

We already keep the thermostat set low; no higher than 62-64 F (16-17 C) during the day and no higher than 54 F (12 C) at night. The furnace has just been serviced, cleaned, tuned up and evaluated. We have our big down comforter we bought during the winter sale at IKEA and my Mom suggested nightcaps - fabric not alcoholic! Thanks Mom! She also said we should pack up the cats and move in with her for the winter! Ummm... thanks Mom! It’s nice to have options, but we’ll stay here and keep our fingers crossed for a mild winter and lower home heating oil prices - and a Democrat in the White House come January. That good news alone will warm the cockles of our hearts starting the day after the election in November!


Kate said...

Our new place has oil heat too...not included in rent- so we are facing the same issue. We are not locking in. I feel like its murphy's law: we lock in and prices will drop, we don't and they'll stay high. Its a lousy gamble either way.

Pink Granite said...

Hi Kate -
As I understand it, 80% of all the U.S. homes which heat with oil are located in the Northeastern quadrant of the country. A helpful link to look at oil prices in Massachusetts is:
You can click on the regional map to get a list of oil dealers and their current cash prices.

Our oil company offers a "pay within 10 days discount". It used to be 10 cents a gallon, but now it's up to 20 cents! We've set aside the money we would have used to pay the lump contract lock-in price and will draw down on that to pay each delivery within 10 days!

Fingers crossed we're all making the right decisions!
Good luck!
- A.L.

dancingmorganmouse said...

Your mum is right about the head gear though - back when we lived in a cold climate I often wore woolly socks and a wooly knitted hat to bed. Hat would fall off, socks would be ditched as it warmed up but it was a good way to get and keep warm when you first slipped in between the freezing sheets.
I highly recommend hot water bottles too!

Pink Granite said...

Hi DMM -
Thanks for the good suggestions - especially the hot water bottles! Remember those long handled bed warmers one put hot coals in? By "remember" I refer to knowledge rather than experience!
- Lee

Papamoka said...

Have you looked into installing a wood pellet stove in your home. We used to have one in our old house and it was a budget saver for our 1700 sq ft home. We would go through a 40lb of bag a day and the only time the gas furnace would kick in was when temps dipped below zero. Just a thought for ya...

Stay warm...

Pink Granite said...

Hi Papamoka -
Thanks for the advice and your firsthand experience!
We have looked into wood pellet stoves. It seems as if they cost about the same to install as a traditional wood stove, but are somewhat more expensive to purchase. We also keep hearing about problems with availability of the pellets. But they are still in the mix for us on how best to efficiently, affordably heat our home.
Our dream solution is a Masonry Heater. That coupled with fully green energy sources such as solar and wind would be ideal.
- Lee