June 17, 2023
High Cost of Heating Fuel

By Brian Gray

It's understandable that homeowners may feel worried and powerless when the price of heating fuel spikes and their home depends on heating fuel to stay warm. At times like these, it's important to understand all the options available to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep your home warm and comfortable at the best value possible.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), about three-fifths of all Vermont households rely on fuel oil, kerosene, or propane to heat their homes. The EIA states that the high dependence on fuel oil makes Vermont particularly vulnerable to fuel oil shortages and price spikes during the winter months. Here are the heating oil price trends from winter 22/23.

Oil Price Chart 22-23
The best way to take the worry out of high heating fuel prices is to use less fuel or none at all. Seems like an easy solution but how can that be achieved?

Here at the Energy Co-op, we understand each home is unique and each homeowner has different goals and means to achieve those goals. We understand that reducing your home's fuel use does not have a "one size fits all".  That's why we provide customized services for our members and customers that relate directly to their goals and budget. Here are five steps you can take today to reduce your fuel usage:

  1. Your heating system will work more efficiently if it has a tune up. On average a home will save 5% to 10% in fuel usage if they have their heating system cleaned and tuned up each year. The average home uses 650 gallons of fuel per year. 10% savings = 65 gallons of fuel and at today's prices that is about $300 dollars in annual savings.
  2. If your heating system is more than 15 or 20 years old, it can it be replaced with a high efficiency unit. Today's highly efficient heating systems generate efficiency ratings of 90%-92%. Replacing a unit that is 15-20 years old that uses 650 gallons per year can result in savings of up to 20%-25% per year which at today's prices is about $600 to $730 per year.
  3. Speaking of high efficiency equipment, cold climate heat pumps are a whopping 240% efficient making these units one of the most economical ways to heat and cool your home. These units are sometime referred to as mini-split systems and they generate heat and cooling utilizing electricity. Based on the current electricity rates, heat pumps are 45% less expensive to operate than a central heating system using fuel oil. This can amount to savings of up to $1,300 per year for an average home.
  4. No matter what type of fuel you utilize, having a well-insulated tight home will significantly reduce the amount of fuel you use. In fact, homeowners who weatherize their homes see an average reduction of 20%-25% in fuel use as well as make their home much more comfortable and healthier. An energy audit of the home will reveal just how leaky your home is and provide solutions to make your home efficient and comfortable.
  5. The Co-op also makes available programs to reduce your risk to spiking fuel prices as well as make paying your fuel bills more manageable. A pre-buy or budget program will help reduce the uncertainty of your heating fuel costs when fuel prices are volatile?

If you would like to understand more about any of these ways to reduce your fuel usage, contact our experts at the Energy Co-op. They can provide practical solutions that will help jump-start your path to taking control of your fuel use and take the worry out of uncertain energy costs in the future.