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The Cost of Comfort

The cost of comfort isn't as easy to find as opening your energy bill.

Whether you heat your home from a COD company, a full service company with a cap or without a cap, Mass Save, or any of the other money saving programs, what does it all translate to. When it comes to picking a heating company or a source it isn't just about the cost of fuel, there is an entire system of people that depending on the company can make or break your experience.

When you have a winter like we had last year the price of heating your home became a very important aspect.  This was due to many people taking an additional filling for heating oil and the price of propane rising due to supply and demand.  This lead many customers to look away from Oil and Propane and make the move to Natural Gas or leave their full service company for a COD company.  In some cases these choices were helpful, in others they did more harm than help.

Let's look at making the switch to Natural Gas first,  this is a common trend in the energy business regardless of how cold the winter months are.  Home owners are given huge incentives to convert their heating equipment to natural gas from either older natural gas units or from oil heat units.  Rebates can range from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars off of the equipment. Natural gas utilities use the fact that their fuel is cheaper and more efficient than oil heat.  While this is true the way that it is portrayed it isn't the whole story, in the long run the cost of heating your home with oil or natural gas is about the same.

If you were hit hard this winter and are thinking about changing fuel sources to save money and lower the cost of staying comfortable, you have to look at when your investment will pay you back.  Making the switch to Natural Gas isn't as easy as putting in a new piece of equipment and flipping a switch.  Natural gas unlike Oil is delivered directly into your home through piping in your town or city. If your street is connected to the pipeline, than the process is a bit easier, if your street isn't connected to the pipes or the street has be redone you will not have natural gas available to you.  New piping will need to run into your home from the street and new equipment installed. This process is very time consuming and costly and prices can raise quickly depending on the type of heating equipment you purchase.

Now you might wonder how I say that Natural Gas and Oil are about the same price.  It comes to how it is measured, Natural Gas is around $2 per cubic feet while Oil is  $3.50 to $4 per gallon. Also Oil burns twice as hot as Natural Gas when it comes to BTU's, per gallon of fuel oil burns at 140,000 BTUs while Natural Gas burns at 72,000 BTU

With natural gas and oil actually on the same playing field when it comes to cost, you will never get a pay back from converting to natural gas instead of upgrading to more modern oil heating system.  If you are upgrade from an oil heating system that is 20 years or old, then you will see plenty of savings but they will be similar to that of a modern oil heating system without the need to install piping into your home. 

Next is what it can cost you by going to a COD company over a full service company. Most COD companies, like those found at New England Oil are about 30 cents lower than full service companies.  This leads people to wonder, if the oil is the same why should I pay more for the same product?  Next time you need a delivery that day, your pipes freeze, or your heating system is on it's last leg you'll know the difference between a full service company and a COD.  A full service company like ckSmithSuperior or Santoro Oil have the man power and trucks to ensure that the customer base can receive the fuel and the service when they need it.

Most COD companies do not offer equipment installation, if your heating system dies on you in the dead of winter you'll need frantically look for a company that will install equipment.  This can be difficult as some companies won't or don't like to install equipment if you aren't their customer. While this might not happen often, it can add a lot of additional stress to the already stressful situation of being without heat or hot water in the winter.  

What about service with it comes to a COD company or timely deliveries?  COD companies work on a cash on delivery structure.  They will only deliver if you pay them before the fuel hits your tank and on a will call basis.  That leaves the customer responsible for keeping track of the fuel the tank and calling to set up a deliver.  If you do have a COD for fuel delivery don't wait till your tank is almost empty, small COD of companies only have a couple of trucks and might not be able to delivery until a few days or week after you call.  

Similar to installation of new equipment, a lot of COD companies don't offer service either.  Annual maintenance is important to keep your heating system running at it's peak and saving you money on fuel.  

While a full service company may be more expensive than a COD company on fuel, they bring the added security of automatic deliveries, service, and a large fleet of trucks.

written by:

Robert Stahelski

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