Along with conserving energy, customers can save on heating bills by taking advantage of the different payment plans available through their heating fuel dealer. This section covers the various heating fuel 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 percent of their annual heating costs over a short three-month period, many heating fuel dealers offer convenient payment plans that can ease the financial burden over the winter months. Some heating fuel 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 heating fuel dealers require a minimum purchase and offer this price only to Automatic Delivery customers.
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.
Some heating fuel 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 heating fuel dealer, you may enter into a Budget Plan each spring for the following heating season. Heating fuel 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 heating fuel 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. 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.