Heating Oil Costs Surge, and Many in Northeast Can’t Switch
When David Harris built his 2,000-square-foot hilltop home nine years ago, he wanted to put in natural gas, but the utility wouldn’t run a line to his house. Like many people here, he was stuck using heating oil.
Mr. Harris added a wood stove to help cut costs and now uses only about one-third of the oil the house would otherwise need. But that did not stop a deliveryman for Crowley Fuel from handing him a $471.21 bill earlier this month for a refill that should get him to April.
“You just cross your fingers and hope that it doesn’t get too much worse,” Mr. Harris said.
Actually, it probably will — for him and the residents of the roughly eight million other American homes that use heating oil, mostly in a band from Maine to Pennsylvania.
While natural gas prices have plummeted to 10-year lows, heating oil prices have been steadily rising for years and are expected to reach record levels this winter, precipitated by higher costs for crude oil and the shutdown of several crucial refineries in the Northeast and in Europe. The Energy Department projects a price of $3.79 a gallon over the next few months, more than a dollar above the winter average for the last five years. Analysts do not expect much relief in the longer term, either, because global oil prices are expected to stay high amid political instability in the Middle East and rising demand from developing countries.