Are You Ready for High Fuel Costs Next Winter?

22 Jun

By Greg Cox

Are you ready for high heating costs next winter?  The days of cheap energy are becoming a thing of the past.

The strong economy, restricted oil supplies and the Iran sanctions have combined to push fossil fuel prices higher than they’ve been since 2014, and there doesn’t appear to be any substantial reductions in sight. Gas prices are nearing $3/gallon and may continue to rise.

Heating oil prices, which normally drop during the summer when refiners concentrate on producing gasoline, now average $3.09/gallon, up nearly 30 percent from the $2.40/gallon average price last June, and up 20 cents from the $2.89/gallon average price this past winter, as reported on the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources website.  Overall, average heating oil prices have risen more than 40 percent since they dropped to just $2.19/gallon average in 2016.  A cold winter or even tighter oil supplies could result in average prices next winter flirting with the $3.90/gallon level that was the average from 2012 to 2014, 82 percent higher than in 2016.

While the cold blasts of winter may seem a long way off when we enjoy the summer’s warmth, a little planning and investment now will pay dividends when cold weather returns later this fall. Now is the time to consider installing a modern wood heating system. While fossil fuel prices have risen substantially, wood pellet prices rose less than 6 percent in the past year, with the bulk price average of $271/ton compared with $256/ton last year.  And, bagged pellet prices have actually dropped 5 percent, from $260/ton to $246/ton. These prices make wood fuel a cheaper option compared to oil.

If your heating system is showing its age, or you want to upgrade an old wood stove, you can save money by taking advantage of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) rebates, either by replacing an old wood stove with a new fuel efficient low emission stove or by installing a pellet or wood chip heating system. Reduce your fuel usage and avoid the fossil fuel roller coaster!

Get Help Replacing an Old Wood Stove

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, is offering the 2018 Wood Stove Change-Out Program.

Any Massachusetts resident or business currently operating a non-EPA-certified wood stove or fireplace insert is eligible for a rebate of up to $1,750 when replacing an existing stove with an eligible low emissions model. Those that meet certain income requirements can be eligible for rebates of up to $3,250.

Wood stove change-outs are one of the most effective ways to both lower emissions from your wood stove and to get more heat out of your fuel dollars. If you own an old wood stove and would like to replace it with a new, low-emission EPA-certified wood or pellet stove, visit Mass CEC’s website ( www.masscec.com/commonwealth-woodstove-change-out )  to find out more.

You will need to contact a local stove professional who will confirm that your old stove is eligible and submit a rebate application on your behalf after installing your new stove.

Act now to make sure you don’t miss the August 28th application deadline!

If your central heating system needs to be replaced, MassCEC also has incentive funds available to help homeowners and businesses convert their buildings to low emission self-feeding wood heat boilers, which use new technology to heat buildings automatically.  Building owners can be eligible for a rebate of up to $10,000 when installing an eligible wood heating system. Those who meet certain income requirements may qualify for a rebate of up to $16,500.

For more information on these programs, either visit http://www.masscec.com/clean-heating-and-cooling/modern-wood-heating or call (617) 315-9300.