Four Tips That Can Make It Easier To Pay Your Heating Oil Bill

Oil heat can be a warm and cost-effective heating option, although it may not feel like it. This is because you are paying for your heat in bulk each time you have a fuel delivery, instead of just paying a little bit each month through the winter season. If this bulk payment seems to put undue stress on your budget, the following methods can help make oil an even more affordable item.

Tip #1: Ask About Plans

Most heating oil suppliers have a variety of plans that either lower your oil costs or at least make the payment easier to handle. Contact a professional oil company, like Peterson Oil, to see if they offer any of the following options:

  • Early bird specials: Also known as lock-in plans, you order your first delivery in the off-season. This is usually summer, when the prices are at their lowest. You are now locked in at that lower price for any future refills through the heating season.

  • Monthly plans: Instead of paying for the entire oil delivery at once, the amount is spread out over the next several months and you make a payment toward your balance each month. These plans usually have a catch. For example, there may be a small service fee or you may be required to get periodic top-offs, even if you don't need them.

  • Random discounts: Oil suppliers may have a variety of discounts available, so it's a good idea to ask. For example, there may be a cash-at-delivery discount, veteran discounts, or senior discounts available. It never hurts to ask.

Tip #2: Look Into a Co-Op

Fuel co-ops are popular in areas where oil heating is common. These require an annual membership fee in the co-op, which then purchases oil in bulk at bulk pricing. This means you have access to the oil at the bulk price, without any mark-up by a heating oil company. There will only be the minimal amount of mark-up necessary to cover storage and delivery. The main drawback to a co-op is they sometimes run out of fuel before the end of the heating season, so you may still need to purchase a final fill from a local company at full price.

Tip #3: Order Fewer Deliveries

Chances are your fuel company adds a surcharge to your bill each time they have to make a delivery. This is to cover the driver's wages, the fuel for the truck, and the wear-and-tear on vehicles and equipment. Try and budget for a full tank refill when possible. This will lower your overall cost since you won't be paying these surcharges as often as you would with more frequent, smaller fills.

Tip #4: Budget Year Around

This one seems obvious, but it's easy to overlook. The heating season lasts for only a few months, but it comes every year at about the same time. This means it shouldn't be a surprise. Even though you may only be paying for oil for four or five months, set aside the budgeted amount all 12 months of the year. Simply divide up the previous year's heating costs by 12, and then save that amount each month. You will want to increase the amount if heating costs jump drastically.