Indeed, the cost of heating oil during the fall and winter can put a major dent on your finances. Unfortunately, if you are like most people, you have to endure this cost because keeping your heat level at a comfortable range in either your office or home during the cold season is a prerequisite for creating a relaxing living or working space. Therefore, it is important to find a good heating oil company that offers effective services that are within your budget. While you may not be able to control all the factors, for example, global oil prices, you can significantly reduce your heating bills by employing the following measures when selecting a heating oil company:
Identify Companies That Offer Good Payment Plans
Different companies generally offer different payment plans. Depending on your financial situation, you can use one of the following payment plans:
- Payment Plans: Companies typically offer either fixed or capped pricing methods for their services. For the former, companies determine a fixed heating rate per gallon of oil. The fixed price does not fluctuate even if market prices change at any point during the year. The best way to utilize locked-in fixed pricing plans is probably to identify a company that offer such plans and sign an agreement when market prices are low. For the latter plan, oil-heating companies and customers get into a one-year contract. Under this contract, an oil company sets prices based on estimations of what the highest market prices are likely to be in the duration of one year. If market prices drop during the course of the contract, the customer gets reduced prices. Under both fixed and capped pricing plans, you are likely to benefit from oil prices that are significantly lower than current market pricing rates. However, fixed pricing plans are quite rare due to the volatility of the global oil market.
- Market price payment plans: Some companies offer their services at the current market rate. Under this payment arrangement, a customer pays for heating oil at the daily market rate. These payment plans can be quite effective in cutting the cost of heating oil particularly when the market oil prices are low. However, market prices are often unstable and prices may shoot up significantly from one day to the next.
- Prebuying: Some of the best oil companies have payment plans that enable customers to prebuy oil heating services. Under this payment plan, one can pay for services during warm seasons even if one will only use these services during winter. In most cases, prices for oil heating go up during cold seasons. By using a prebuying plan, a customer could get relatively low prices.
However, it is important to ensure that you prepay for an adequate amount of oil gallons to avoid a scenario where you still need to pay more during winter. Also, ensure that you get such payment plans from financially stable companies to avoid the risk of choosing a company that may go bankrupt by the time you need fuel.
Identify Efficient Service Providers
Besides providing cost efficient payment plans, a good heating oil company also offers good service plans. Here are some of the common service plans that are available on the heating oil market today:
- Full-service plans: Heating oil companies that offer full-service packages provide services such as 24-hour emergency response, automatic service delivery. These companies also sign binding service contracts with customers. Heating oil service contracts may include terms that compel companies to provide annual maintenance and repair services for their customers’ heating oil systems. Effective maintenance services can lower the cost of heating oil subsequently in subsequent years since they normally enhance the heat conservation capacity of heating oil equipment. Some companies that offer full service plans also offer significant price discounts for customers who pay promptly.
- Cash on Delivery service plans: Under these plans, heating oil service providers offer customers significant price discounts. However, heating oil companies offer these discounts on condition that customers pay for services in cash on the actual day of service delivery. It is important to note that if you opt for a “Cash on Delivery” service plan, you are likely to miss out on certain services such as annual maintenance, automatic delivery or binding service contracts. Furthermore, under these plans, payment rates are often not fixed and they may fluctuate depending on prevalent market pricing trends.
- Hybrid service plans: These plans offer a combination of cash on delivery terms of service and provisions contained in full service plans. Heating oil companies that offer this service plan option provide relatively discounted prices. They also provide binding service contracts that promote the delivery of efficient service. If you choose a hybrid service plan, you can either pay for services on the day of delivery or pay within five to ten days depending on the policies of different companies.
Generally, companies that offer full service terms charge above the average market prices for their services. However, they also offer yearly contracts for locked-in payment plans that enable customers to save a substantial amount of money. On the other hand, companies that offer cash on delivery service terms generally have, on average, lower prices compared to the average market prices, but do not offer contracts that can serve as assurances of quality service.
Join Oil Buying Groups
This is probably one of the most effective methods of identifying the best heating oil company in your area. By joining an oil buying group, you can gain significant buying power that you can utilize to negotiate good prices on oil heating services. Some heating oil companies are part of oil buying groups and they offer good discounts to other group members in order to generate more business opportunities. If you are part of such groups, you can also get to understand the practices and processes of different heating oil companies better, which is likely to make it easier to identify companies that offer good services at an efficient cost.
Joining Heating Oil Assistance Programs
If you require heating services for your home, find out if you are eligible for government funded heating assistance programs in Pennsylvania. In most states, the elderly and low income households can get various forms of heating assistance from state officials. In most cases, state energy officials visit homes of heating assistance program members to install equipment that promote the efficient use of energy. However, by joining such as program, you may also get valuable advice on some of the most cost efficient heating oil companies in your area.
Overall, a good heating oil company offers quality services at an affordable price. It is in your best interests to learn about what causes changes in the prices of heating oil, as this will also help you understand how to find a good home heating oil delivery company. In order to ensure that you are well prepared to meet the cost of heating oil during the cold seasons start planning in advance by identifying the best heating oil companies in your area. Besides the aforementioned tips, you can also use other proactive measures such as making phone calls to prospective heating oil service providers in order to identify the best heating oil company.
Below is a video on oil buying clubs or groups. It’s from the UK but does a good job of explaining what these are.