If you're new to heating oil -- maybe you just moved here from an area that uses a different fuel for winter heating, for example -- you may have gotten alarmed by stories about the ups and downs of prices and supplies. You will have to keep an eye on prices as winter approaches, but there are ways to make price increases sting less and to take advantage of price decreases. Two of the tactics will sound familiar if you have a car that runs on gasoline, and one tactic can help you save money on oil without having to run around town.
Keep Topping up the Tank
As you use more of the heating oil and the amount in the tank goes down, top up frequently if the price of heating oil is low. What you want to do is ensure that your tank has as much heating oil in it as possible so that if the price goes up, you won't be caught in a bind, needing oil when the price is still high. You'll have some breathing room and the ability to wait for prices to come down before you need to fill up again. This is similar to monitoring gas prices and filling up when the price drops.
Fill up at the End of the Season
Once you're done using your heater for the year, don't let the tank sit partially or completely empty. Prices on heating oil tend to drop in spring and summer as demand dwindles. That means you can get a great deal on oil when you least need it. Fill up after the heating season is over when you see prices spiral down.
Work With a Heating Oil Purchase Broker
There are companies that will compare local prices for heating oil and then acquire the oil you need from the suppliers you choose. These brokers often monitor local oil dealers, placing current or recent prices on a website. You can choose the dealer from whom you'd like the broker service to get oil. The broker's workers will then deliver the oil to your home.
Another option, of course, is to buy a second tank and fill that up when prices are low, as sort of a hedge against longer spells of high oil prices. Keep in mind, though, that these tanks can take up more space than you realize. An extra tank may not be an option for someone with minimal land around their home. Cash heating oil purchases can also save.
Talk to oil brokers and dealers to see what prices are predicted to do this year. The broker can help you find the right strategy for dealing with oil price changes.