NStar has submitted a revised rate proposal for the cost of natural gas. The new rates, if approved, would mean that homeowners use natural gas heat in Boston would pay about $15 less per month than they did in 2011. Over the course of the winter, that would amount to an average savings of about $100. The average anticipated expenditure for heating this winter, using the proposed rates, would be about $145 per month. Over the 6-month heating season (between November and May), the total average cost to heat a home among NStar’s residential customers would be about $870.
The new rates reflect the abundant supply of natural gas in the United States right now and offer some homeowners a chance to stabilize their winter fuel costs. While the cost of natural gas is dropping and the supply is substantial, the cost of residential heating oil is rising again, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs. In a monthly survey released on September 11, the Department said that the average cost of a gallon of heating oil was $3.75 in August and had crept to $3.84 the day of the survey release. According to the survey, the high price for heating oil among those providers surveyed was $4.50 per gallon and the low was $3.40. Average peak price during the 2011-12 heating season was $3.91 across all providers.
The average annual fuel oil consumption for a home in the United States is about 730 gallons. That doesn’t take into account location, climate or energy efficiency. Using the current average price for heating oil in Massachusetts and assuming an overall consumption of 600 gallons of fuel oil, residential heating oil customers can expect to pay more than $2,300 for fuel this winter. If the winter is severe, fuel oil prices rise significantly, or homeowners lose heat due to inefficiencies, the cost of a fuel-oil heating system could be much higher.
In addition, the danger of a fuel oil spill is significant. Even a relatively small spill can contaminate water and sewer systems, the interior of a home, or the exterior soil, depending upon where the storage tank resides. Fuel oil spills can also result from improper filling. Spills that involve more than a gallon of fuel oil must be professionally remediated, which can be expensive. Fuel oil is also a known carcinogen, creates toxic vapors and can cause significant irritations when it comes into contact with unprotected skin.
Oil-to-gas conversions make a lot of sense, both from a financial perspective and a safety perspective. If you have an oil-fired boiler that is more than 30 years old in your home heating system, you may also qualify for significant rebates of between $,1900 and $3,500 to help cover the cost of boiler replacement.
If you want more information regarding oil-to-gas conversions, the boiler replacement program or other information about saving money on heating costs this season, please contact Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We can consult with you to help you find ways to reduce your heating costs and your overall fuel consumption. Visit Boston Standard Plumbing on Facebook!