With the cost of nearly everything else rising steadily, local residents should expect a welcome break in an unlikely area - their home heating bill this winter.
At about this time last year, a gallon of oil for home heating purposes cost upwards of $4 a gallon. Right now, the price is hovering around $2.30 a gallon.
Natural gas prices also are dropping. According to National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella, natural gas consumers can expect their bills to be about 13 percent lower than they were last year.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Buhrmaster Energy driver Rick Insogna adjusts the nozzle of a hose used to fill customers’ oil tanks at the Burhmaster Energy site in Amsterdam.
Stella said each year, National Grid officials look at the supply of natural gas and make a forecast for the season to base costs on. Officials there are predicting a "solid supply" of natural gas this heating season, Stella said.
Stella said a typical home uses about 830 therms of natural gas from Nov. 1 to April 31. Last year, that cost about $1,005. This year, it should be about $869, he said.
Jim Buhrmaster of Buhrmaster Energy Group, which has offices in Amsterdam and Mayfield, said the drop in oil prices comes from a high level of supply around the world. Unfortunately, though, the price isn't dropping as far as it should based on the supply, Buhrmaster said.
For about 85 percent of Buhrmaster's customers, the price they pay for home heating oil this winter will be capped and will not rise even if the price of oil goes up. If it goes down, their prices will decrease, Buhrmaster said.
"It's something few companies are able to offer, but we are lucky enough to be able to," Buhrmaster said.
Over the past few weeks and months, the price has been slowly inching up again, Buhrmaster said. Hopefully, that trend will stop soon, he said. Many of his customers have a cap at $2.39 a gallon, he said.
"The price is certainly about half of what it was last year, which is great," he said.
At Elocin Oil Co. in Johnstown, owner Debbie Sprung said she is encouraging her customers to get their HEAP - Home Energy Assistance Program - applications ready to submit by early November.
"That way they can get their benefit as soon as possible," she said. "It's getting colder and with the holidays, many people need that extra money."
Sprung said with local people strapped for cash, the decrease in prices is a welcome help, but it won't make a monumental difference.
"You roll with the punches. That's about all you can do," she said.
Buhrmaster said many people are putting off turning their heat on in order to save some money. They're also doing many little things - closing curtains at night, closing windows and doors, weatherizing their homes - in an effort to save more money.
"We had gotten spoiled [with low gas and oil prices] but now people are putting down an extra blanket and putting on a sweater," he said.
Kayleigh Karutis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.