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Posts Tagged ‘heating oil prices Vermont’

Don’t Let Low Fuel Prices Fool You

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

If you’re the type of person who just went out and purchased a large SUV because gas prices are flirting with $2.00 a gallon, don’t read this. On the other hand, if you see low energy prices as an interesting opportunity, read on.

Everyone who drives a car or heats their home with oil, propane or kerosene is aware that prices have dropped dramatically since last year. There are many factors effecting current low oil prices. These include sustained high output from OPEC nations, the ability of American frackers to cut costs and maintain output, and lower demand from China. Like all complex international issues involving markets and energy, it’s anyone’s guess as to when prices will rise again – or whether they have further to fall.

The Vermont Fuel Dealers Association has published these numbers for average Vermont fuel prices as of the end of August, 2015 compared with those of a year ago:

Type of Fuel

Aug 2015

Aug 2014

Change

No. 2 Fuel Oil

$2.45

$3.59

-31.92%

Kerosene

$3.01

$4.10

-26.64%

Propane

$2.30

$2.81

-18.15%

Reg. Unleaded Gasoline

$2.64

$3.66

-27.88%

Diesel

$2.96

$4.01

-26.33%

As an energy efficiency advocate and heating fuel supplier, the question on my mind is, “Will lower home heating costs discourage homeowners from investing in energy saving improvements for their homes?” After all, we’ve all got plenty of things to spend our money on!

We suggest that it makes the most sense to take the money you’re saving on your energy bills and invest it in ways that make those savings permanent. If you do so, you’ll be protected from future price spikes, cut your carbon emissions and make your home more comfortable as well.

A good place to start is with an energy audit from the Co-op. For only $100, we complete a thorough assessment of your home’s energy use, insulation levels, heating system and appliances and provide a written report with our recommendations for saving money and cutting your fossil fuel use.

Fossil fuels are not the only energy source that costs less these days. There’s more good news for homeowners interested in powering their homes with renewable energy. According to a 2014 report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency, electricity from biomass, hydro, geothermal and onshore wind are all competitive with or cheaper than electricity from coal, oil and gas-fired power stations, even without financial support, and despite falling oil prices. Solar is leading the cost decline, with module costs falling 75 per cent since the end of 2009 and the cost of electricity from utility-scale solar falling 50 per cent since 2010.

The bad news is that this also means many current state and federal subsidies and rebates may be phased out, discontinued or not renewed when they expire. The 30% federal tax credit for solar expires at the end of 2016, for example.

The Energy Co-op’s always urges homeowners to start with an energy audit. After that, our approach is three pronged:

  • First, and most important, we make sure that the home is safe and healthy, free from mold, risk of carbon monoxide leaks and things like asbestos and vermiculite. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 400 people in the U.S. die every year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. The National Fire Protection Agency reports that in 2011, faulty heating equipment was implicated in an estimated 53,600 reported U.S. home structure fires.
  • Second, we focus on energy and money saving improvements like stopping drafts and adding insulation.
  • Third, we look into alternatives or replacements for old, wasteful boilers and furnaces.

Our main point is, don’t go the SUV route and rush to purchase a gas-hogging vehicle while gas prices are low, only to regret your decision when prices go up. Instead, take advantage of low energy prices to create a safer and more energy-secure home.

We believe that there has never been a better time to invest in efficiency improvements. Right here in Vermont rebates and incentives are still available – and we’re told that winter – and home heating bills – are on the way!

 

Heating and Fuel Assistance for Energy Co-op of Vermont Members

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Vermont’s famous January thaw is done. The February freeze appears to have set in … perhaps a bit early! The last week has seen the lowest temperatures of the heating season. And that means heating bills are on the rise. We don’t like to see anyone trying to get through the winter without staying warm enough. So every year, the Energy Co-op works with several state agencies, as well as other organizations to help more than 170 Co-op members who may be challenged, financially or otherwise, to stay warm all winter long.

Every heating season we deliver more than 90,000 gallons of  kerosene and heating oil to the Energy Co-op’s members, in large part, with funds provided by Seasonal Fuel AssistanceCrisis Fuel AssistanceGlobal PartnersCitizens Energy and the Co-op Oil Bank.  For every $12 Co-op membership, we put $2 into the Co-op Oil Bank to help pay for fuel oil deliveries and heating services for Co-op members having trouble paying their bills.

Of course, if your heating equipment isn’t working, then fuel assistance won’t do much! Furnaces and boilers need regular maintenance and servicing to operate efficiently. If you’re having trouble paying for maintenance or a repair on your furnace or boiler, help is available from Crisis Fuel Assistance, the Weatherization Program and Efficiency Vermont.

And even if fuel is in the tank and the heating system is working properly, many Vermont homes are leaky and poorly insulated.  This means money is literally going out the chimney! Fortunately, Vermont’s Weatherization Program helps low-income Vermonters by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Weatherization typically produces energy savings of at least 30%. According to a recent report by Vermont’s Thermal Efficiency Task Force (TETF), a typical Vermont household could save $1,000 a year with the completion of proper weatherization techniques, such as adding insulation, sealing air leaks, and replacing or repairing heating systems.

The Energy Co-op of Vermont is also proud to offer Free Home Energy Check Ups for our members. This is a great, simple way to see how efficient your home is. If you or someone you know needs financial help with a fuel delivery, repair or maintenance issue, or weatherization, please call the Energy Co-op at (802) 860-4090 or visit any of the resource links above.

Member: Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Renewable Energy Vermont, Local First Vermont

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