Locking in a price for heating fuel: What you need to know

Giroux Energy (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) -- With the high heat and humidity sticking around, you probably aren't thinking much about heating your home this winter, but some fuel dealers say now is the time when you should start thinking about it.

As prepaid contracts are being rolled out, CBS 13 is on your side with what you need to know before you lock in a price.

On the same sign on Warren Avenue in Portland that says it's 90 degrees, Giroux Energy reminds Mainers of last winter's deep freeze.

General Manager Steve Giroux says the sign is there to encourage people to plan ahead -- and lock in a price for heating fuel.

“That was a 2-week experience I don't think any of us will ever forget,” Giroux said. “It's summertime finally, get to enjoy the weather. It's really not on a lot of people's minds.

But he says while the air-conditioning is running, you should start thinking about the furnace.

“Typically, prices are the lowest point in the summer time and you secure your product and then you won't have to worry if a deep freeze comes again because everything will be all set up and ready to go,” Giroux said.

According to the Governor's Energy Office, the price for heating oil across the state currently ranges from $2.43 to $2.96 a gallon.

In January, the statewide average was $2.88 a gallon.

At Giroux Energy, you can lock in right now for $2.89 a gallon. So, should you do it?

Lisa Smith with the Governor's Energy Office says there are many factors that can change the price of heating fuel, like the weather, economic sanctions, and supply and demand.

“I wish I had a crystal ball, consumers would love for me to have a crystal ball. I don't have one,” Smith said.

Smith says prepaid plans are something to consider, especially for Mainers who live on fixed incomes.

“They can't afford if the prices go up. They don't have that extra wiggle room in budget,” Smith said.

If you want to know how much you're going to pay, then lock in a price ahead of time

Giroux says something else to consider is a prepaid contract helps make sure when you need fuel, you can get it.

You may remember last winter, the I-Team told you about dozens of customers left in the cold when their fuel company was sold and they had to wait days for a delivery.

“I don't think it's gambling because you're securing the fuel and your heat and you're securing a good price,” Giroux said.

Most fuel companies will let you pay a little bit more per gallon for what's known as a downside insurance premium.

So, if the fuel price drops after you lock in, you can still get the lower price.

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