Winter Heating Oil

After looking into our moderately fattened savings account (thank you tax refund checks and willpower) we decided to bite the bullet and purchase our heating oil for this upcoming winter. We thought about it for awhile, wondering if the cost was going to come down any more, and actually held off another month until we bought it last week. Out final decision was made when we realized that even if the price does drop a little more, the savings would not be substantial enough to balance out the stress of waiting. Besides, it’s never going to be priced anywhere close to last season and we’re pretty sure it will only start to go up again as summer comes to a close and autumn starts creeping in. Besides, getting it out of the way now leaves us feeling more secure and allows us to focus on other expenses.

As seen in my earlier entries, last winter was survived rather comfortably on less than 100 gallons of fuel oil, supplemented with occasional uses of a small electric space heater. So, with 100 gallons being the minimum purchase for delivery, we bought just that again this year. And you know the really sad part? Despite the fact that we purchased exactly the same amount as last year, it cost us almost $200 more than last year! That’s right, last year was something like $265 for 100 gallons and this year was $460. It was after writing the check that all the headlines of “Food or Fuel” this winter finally hit me. For families that get a couple of tank fill-ups a year, that’s over $1000 every delivery if they have a typical 250 gallon tank! I couldn’t imagine doing that. On a side note, my little sister just moved into an apartment where she’s going to have to pay for her own heat (oil) and she a) never has had to pay a bill other than rent b) constantly got into trouble in high school for cranking our thermostat past 75 c) is more than likely still in the habit of making her place tropical and d) is moderately irresponsible when it comes to anything money and energy related.

We had a related surprise Monday afternoon when we returned home after a weekend visit to Maine. Our landlord was here fixing what he could of our rotted out door frame- which was like that all winter, leaving us with a breezy situation. What a relief! AND he had bought us a new heavy duty storm door! It closes and seals tighter than our actual door, and I can see this being a beautiful thing come winter. If only he would replace all of our 50 year old windows that have gaps large enough to squeeze your pinky finger in! But I have to say, even one improvement is a blessing. Oh, and he took a brush hog to that jungle of weeds behind the apartment. Although I was starting to like all the flowers, it looks so much better, will cut down on the bugs around here, and is a huge help in preparing it for our garden next spring.

4 thoughts on “Winter Heating Oil

  1. Out of curiosity, do you guys have an electric water heater or is it off from your furnace? Also, if you don’t mind me asking, at about what temperature do you keep the thermostat set at? Joe and I are trying to plan ahead (which is impossible with a tropical bird).

  2. We are very lucky in that we do have an electric water heater. That means no oil for hot water, plenty of on demand hot HOT water, and it’s even a decent electic bill every month. Oh goodness, sure you have to ask me that… let me think and look… I think that when we were not home, out and about, or just not using it, our “off” position was maybe 50 or so (I can’t remember exactly but I know it was no cooler than 45 and no higher than 55)- that way there was never a chance of frozen anything, and really, it never really got that low- thanks to the old couple living downstairs. Then, if we wanted a little real heat on the weekend, we put it up to 65 for a little while, if we had company over, 68. But we also supplemented it with a small (new, but not energy star because it was a cheap Walmart one) space heater.

    A typical week kind of looked like this: M-F was all the same. The heat would be turned to it’s “off position” before bed, kept that way all day while we were at work, and if it wasn’t too bad, left that way all week. It worked out because the bedroom had all kinds of extra blankets on the bed, and about 10 minutes before bed on the really cold nights, I’d throw my “Bean Bag” (I’m sure you have one, those compresses that have beans or rice in them that you nuke in the microwave and stay warm for like ever) in the microwave and then under the covers. That then was left at the foot of the bed for our tootsies. 🙂 The kitchen was always warmed by the cooking of supper, and the couch always had a comforter or blanket on it for living room activies- TV watching, knitting, etc. And if we were still chilly, we would put on the space heater. So many people say it’s an inefficient way to heat your house- yeah, it is, if you’re heating your whole house! But if you want it on for an hour in the living room while you’re in it, it’s sooooo much easier, efficient, and cheaper than turning up the thermostat. So then on the weekends, we would tend to use the oil heater because we spent so much time in the house. But of course if we left, we’d turn it off. Then of course we would change the temps based on company. We dont mind a house that typically stays around 55 or 60 but we wont let our company suffer. Oh! And of course we made sure that we didn’t touch it before November 1st (we actually made it about half way through before we touched it).

    So yeah, that’s probably more than you wanted to know, but that’s everything I could think of. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. My advice would be to start with the minimum delivery (for us its 100 gallons) or start thinking about your usual habits and guess from there.

  3. Thanks for all that info, Des! Like I said, the issue is the little tropic of a bird we have. *lol* We’re definitely going to start with just 100gals. We’re going to have a hard enough time affording that. *sigh* But…hopefully in a couple-three years we’ll have an outdoor wood boiler as our primary heat source, which means little to no oil, even for water heat!

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