The changing leaves may dazzle in the sunlight, but if they're making you dread the approach of winter, let's fan the flames. Home heating oil costs are expected to remain relatively stable this winter.
Which means you have an advantage this year to keep the fuel bills from burning through your wallet:
1. Pull Last Year's Bills. If prices are expected to remain about the same, you have an advantage -- you can budget this year. So pull last year's bills out and tally them up. Then start setting money aside to cover yourself so you don't end up in a hole. This can also help you decide between automatic delivery services or calling yourself when the gauge gets low. Review when you made your orders last year to determine when you will likely need to call again, and you can avoid fees for emergency deliveries on a weekend.
2. Check the Weather Predictions Before Buying Ahead. The Farmer's Almanac is a trusted source for weather predictions, and it's splitting its winter warnings for 2010-11. Says the Almanac, "The eastern third of the country (New England down to Florida and as far west as the lower Ohio River and Mississippi River Valley) will experience colder-than-normal winter temperatures." But over in the middle of the country, a "normal" winter is expected. The farther west you live, the easier Old Man winter is expected to be on your household. If yours is expected to be a harsh winter, you may want to take your oil company up on its offer of an automatic delivery (that often comes with a reduced cost because you're guaranteeing them a customer).
3. Work Your Connections. Belong to a union? Call them up and ask if you can get in on any group discounts they have. Been using the same company for years? Ask for a loyalty discount, or find out if they give you a referral credit for recruiting new customers.
Image via jpctalbot/Flickr