Bad news, good news for home heating

PHILADELPHIA - October 8, 2008 - The bad news is that you will pay more to heat your home this winter.

The good news is that oil prices are dropping and the you may not be paying as much as the dire predictions of a couple of months ago.

At the Energy Cooperative in Center City they crunch numbers every day.

And they like what they see.

"Now, wholesale prices are down below three dollars, and some of our prices in the past few days have gone below three dollars for the first time in quite a while," said David Weiner.

In July, suppliers were charging as much as $5 a gallon.

That's because oil was going for $147 a barrel.

Today, it's $90 a barrel.

The government is projecting it will take almost $2400 to heat the average home with oil this year.

Last year is it was just under $2,000 which represents a 23% jump.

But, that is a scaled back estimate compared to a month ago when oil prices were much higher.

If you locked in the price with an oil supplier a couple of months ago you may be out of luck, unless you can renegotiate the contract.

If you can, fill up now at today's lower prices.

And, if you can find a willing supplier, you may want to try to lock in now.

"If you can find a lock-in that feels right, that you can afford, that you would consider to be a competitive rate, I would say you should probably go for it," Weinar said. "You can always check in with us at the co-op because we can help advise you whether it meets that criteria."

The Energy Cooperative, by the way, estimates its members will pay 20% less than none members this heating season. That's because they have the purchasing power of over 6500 customers and can negotiate lower prices with suppliers.

If you need help heating your home this winter, you have some options.

In Pennsylvania a Customer Assistance Program, a low-income Usage Reduction Program, and Hardship Funds are available through the public utility commission.

CLICK HERE to get heating help in Pennsylvania

In New Jersey, the state's division of community resources offers a Home Energy Assistance Program.

CLICK HERE to get heating help in New Jersey

Delaware's Division of State Service Centers also offers a Home Energy Assistance Program.

CLICK HERE to get heating help in Delaware

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