It's Your Money: Home heating oil costs

Posted at: 01/28/2013 4:28 PM
Updated at: 01/28/2013 6:17 PM
By: Ray Levato

Homeowners are feeling the pinch of heating their homes during this cold weather. But people who heat with oil are seeing sky high energy bills.  

Home heating prices are through the roof. Ten years ago, home heating oil was $1.09 a gallon. Today, it's almost four times that. Why are oil heat bills so high? One reason is the cost of crude oil, but News10NBC found out the U.S. Exports petroleum products that are made from it.

Home heating oil is near new a record high price pushing $4 a gallon. There are thousands of homes in our area that use oil.

Home heating oil customer Holly Zeger told us on Facebook, “We just filled our tank this morning, $847 later! I wish we didn't heat with oil but our landlord won't switch it over!”

News10NBC wanted to take her complaint about the high cost to heating oil dealers, but most either said they didn't have the time or didn't return our calls. One who did is Tony Tambe, who's been in the business for 50 years.

Tony Tambe, Oil dealer, said, “A person that buys 10 gallons of oil, that's $375. Now if you get cold weather, in a couple of weeks they need another 100 gallons. That's $800 a month. They can't afford it so they switch to gas.”

And he says he's lost customers just that way. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's information administration, the average oil user will burn 662 gallons of home heating oil this winter.
At an average $3.86 a gallon, it's higher in New York than other states like Pennsylvania. That will cost a homeowner more than two and-a-half thousand dollars this winter.

News10NBC got Spokesman Jonathan Cogan on the phone from Washington. He says the laws of supply and demand are at work, along with the high cost of crude which is near $100 a barrel.

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “Is it true that the U.S. Is a net exporter of petroleum products?

Jonathan Cogan, U.S. Energy Information Administration, said, “That is correct. Beginning last year for the first time since 1949, the U.S. Exported more refined petroleum products than it was importing. Among those products are gasoline and diesel fuel, which is very similar to heating oil.”

Some say that makes home heating oil here more expensive.

Levato said, “So Tony, who do we blame? Who's accountable?
Tambe said, “Number one, I would blame the federal government for the simple reason, who else do you blame. We don't produce the oil in this country.”

Last winter was relatively mild, so we can hold mother nature accountable for the cold temperatures so far this winter.

The oil dealer, Mr. Tambe, works with the Home Energy Assistance Program known as H.E.A.P. There are income guidelines. For more information, click here.

Statement from Sen. Schumer's office:

As it turns out, oil/natural gas production is the highest it has been domestically in years.  

That being said, Senator Schumer has long been a supporter of increased offshore drilling in certain areas when it is safe and appropriate, to help increase supply. While there's not always a perfect answer to address rising home heating oil prices, Senator Schumer is open to considering other opportunities on the federal level, to address these growing costs for Rochester-area residents on the short and long-term.