Along with conserving energy, customers can save on heating bills by taking advantage of the different payment plans available through their Oilheat dealer. This section covers the various Oilheat payment plans to help you make an informed choice about how you want to pay for your fuel for easier budgeting.
Since most homeowners pay for 75% of their annual heating costs over a short three-month period, many Oilheat dealers offer convenient payment plans that can ease the financial burden over the winter months. Some Oilheat dealers have their own storage tanks, allowing them to purchase bulk quantities of oil at times when wholesale prices are lowest and then pass the savings onto you. To provide price protection, dealers contract for fuel oil and price insurance almost a year in advance, lock in a price and pass the savings on to their customers. Price protection plans include Price Caps and Pre-Buy Plans.
This is a free "lock-in" program that can help you to manage your energy bills. You purchase your heating fuel in advance of the heating season, when prices are usually lower. Most Oilheat dealers require a minimum purchase and offer this price only to Automatic Delivery customers.
Price Cap Plan
You can have the security of never paying more than an agreed-upon price per gallon with a Price Cap Plan. You can lock in a price for the entire heating season and it will be the highest price you will pay, no matter how high prices may go. If the retail price goes up, you pay the cap price, but if the retail price goes down, you pay the lower price. This plan allows for market changes and gives added flexibility as opposed to a fixed price.
Fixed Price Plan
Some Oilheat dealers offer a fixed price plan. Under this plan, the price you pay for oil is fixed for a given period of time and will never go up or down. If the retail price goes up, the cost to the customer remains the same. Conversely, if the price goes down, the consumer doesn't benefit. Fixed price plans are good for people who need to know how much their oil is going to cost throughout the season. So they can budget the rest of their expenses accordingly.
A Budget Plan is a proven shield against price fluctuations - your energy expenses are under control, even if temperatures plunge or fuel prices rise.
Upon credit approval from an Oilheat dealer, you may enter into a Budget Plan each spring for the following heating season. Oilheat dealers then take your yearly energy costs and divide them into equal monthly payments. Your annual costs are determined by analyzing your home's past fuel usage. At the end of the budget season, your Oilheat dealer will either credit your account for the following year or bill you for the remaining balance due. Budget Plans are free of charge, with absolutely no cost to join.
Some dealers spread your annual heating cost over 10 equal payments from August to May, while others may offer plans with 9, 11 or 12 payments. Either way, a budget plan takes the guesswork out of bill paying. Without a Budget Plan, you'll pay more for your heat during the winter months, juggling bills during the holidays, when you can least afford it. Most homeowners find that a Budget Plan can help take the worry out of winter by making it easier to plan their finances with the convenience of even payments throughout the year.
State & Federal Assistance
New York State offers a number of ways for families to make ends meet in the face of higher energy prices.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, (LIHEAP): This federally funded program helps qualified persons pay their heating bills during times when they need assistance. Need is determined by your income and other factors. Emergency assistance is also available. Funds are limited, so if you're interested, please apply early.
There are three major components to this energy assistance program:
- Regular Benefits: Financial assistance can be as high as $600 plus applicable add-ons, based on eligibility.
- Emergency Benefits: Based upon the type of emergency, the benefit can be as high as $600.
- Furnace Repair and Replacement: These costs, paid in full or in part, are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Funds are limited, so it is strongly recommended that you apply early. Applications are accepted at all local departments of Social Services. To find out where you can obtain and file an application in New York, call 1-800-342-3009 or visit www.mybenefits.ny.gov
New York Energy $mart™ Loan Program:
Residential borrowers (1-4 family homes) can qualify for reduced interest rates on loans up to $20,000 used to finance certain energy-efficient improvements to their homes which have been pre-qualified by NYSERDA, or to purchase ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances. Funding is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, or until funds are fully committed. For more information call toll-free 1-866-NYSERDA.
WAP, the Weatherization Assistance Program:
The Weatherization Assistance Program, the largest residential energy conservation program in the country, assists income-eligible families and individuals by reducing their heating/cooling costs and improving the safety of their homes through energy efficiency measures. Both single-family and multi-family buildings are assisted. Household energy use reductions and resultant energy cost savings are significant, with an average savings in excess of 20%.
The maximum amount of assistance is limited to $4,500 per unit. Households with incomes at or below 60% of state median income are eligible for assistance. Program services are available to both homeowners and renters, with priority given to senior citizens, families with children and persons with disabilities. Individual households apply by contacting the provider that serves their area.
The Citizens Energy Oil Heat Program:
The Citizens Energy Oil Heat Program announces its program terms and benefits each year before the start of heating season. Please visit their website
for further information.