Home heating costs could skyrocket

July 13, 2008 8:42:34 PM PDT
For now we're baking in the sunshine, but get ready to shiver when you see the price of home heating oil this fall. Senator Chuck Schumer believes the worst is yet to come. He's predicting whopping increases for residents in each borough and out on Long Island.

Crude oil's brief jump past $147 a barrel Friday arrived not only as the United States and Israel view Iran as a growing threat, but also as the U.S. dollar fell and worries erupted over possible supply disruptions in two other major oil-producing nations: Nigeria and Brazil.

Those factors contributed to new all-time trading highs in crude, gasoline and heating oil. It looks like $4-a-gallon gasoline might be here to stay, and that heating oil costs might cause further problems for consumers as the weather gets colder.

"If you think your gasoline bills are expensive now, wait till you get your home heating bill this winter," said Stephen Schork, an analyst and trader in Villanova, Pa. Heating oil is used mostly in the Northeast United States; homes in most other parts of the country use natural gas. It's possible for people to cut back on heating as they do on driving, but it's not easy to slash the bill significantly.

"We've been building these ridiculous McMansions over the past few years. It's harder to trade in a McMansion than it is an SUV," Schork said. "But you can turn your thermostat down and throw on a sweater."

Home heating oil could skyrocket by 25 percent this winter meaning the average New Yorker will pay 720 dollars more this year than they did last, Schumer said. (READ MORE)

The sobering news is especially hard on seniors living on a fixed income.

So while gas prices move closer to five dollars a gallon and electric bills are expected to jump, home heating oil increases could leave many feeling left out in the cold.

There are some measures customers can take now to control sticker shock:

  • Buy a programmable thermostat.
  • Have an energy audit.
  • Check your equipment.
  • Get a locked in payment plan with your oil provider.
    County by county breakdown of home heating oil projections: Click here.

    County by county breakdown of projected gas prices: Click here.

    Energy Saving Tips from The Energy Coordinating Agency

    1. Install a Setback Thermostat. For every degree you set the temperature back, you'll save 3% of your heating bill. For example, if you lower your thermostat setting from 72 at 68 during the day, you'll save 12% of your heating bill. Air conditioning savings in the summer are comparable if you set your temperature up.
    2. Repair and Seal those Leaky Windows Use caulk, rope caulk and storm windows to seal out the cold air. Tighten your window locks. Repair all broken windows. Replace all broken glass. Reglaze any panes that need new glazing.
    3. Seal Drafts around Doors Use V-seal, caulk, door sweeps and other weatherstripping to provide a tightly sealed door.
    4. Seal up Penetrations, Leaks and Holes in your Basement using expanding foam or insulation stuffed into plastic bags.
    5. Build a Basement Under Porch Partition to keep cold air from infiltrating through the porch floor and into your basement. Put a door into the partition wall to access the front of your basement.
    6. Seal all leaks into your Attic This includes your attic hatch or stairway to the attic.
    7. Increase the Insulation in your Attic. If you have R-11 or less, add insulation up to R-38. Make sure to air seal before you insulate.
    8. Buy Energy Star Appliances when replacing your refrigerator, heater, air conditioner, dishwasher etc.. If you're replacing your heater, consider a condensing furnace. EPA's Energy Star website has listings of equipment and where it is available locally. www.energystar.gov
    9. Install radiator reflectors and bleed your radiators to get rid of air trapped in them, or if you have a forced air system, replace your furnace filter before winter.
    10. Seal leaky ductwork with mastic. Duct tape is for packages ? not ducts.
    11. Turn your water heater down to 110 degrees and install an insulating jacket and pipe wrap on at least the first 5 feet leading off the water heater.
    12. Use Compact Fluorescent Lamps (cfls) instead of incandescent bulbs and save 75% of your lighting cost. Cfls last 8 years on average.
    13. Coat your Roof with White, Acrylic, Elastomeric Roof Coating to reduce your air conditioning bill by 22%. These coatings can go over existing rolled roofing, modified bitumen (aka rubber roofing), metal and any seamed roofing material. They also extend the life of your roof by at least 10 years!
    14. Install a Solar Water Heater and save 50% to 70% on your water heating costs. Federal tax credits make solar water heating extremely cost effective.
    15. Save Water by installing low flush toilets, low flow showerheads and faucet aerators Always repair leaks as soon as they start.

    STORY BY: Anthony Johnson

    WEB PRODUCED BY: Bob Monek