We’re well into fall, and many Baltimore, Maryland and DC homeowners will begin to turn their thoughts away from the operation and maintenance of cooling equipment to their heating needs for the season ahead. While heating oil prices often increase during this part of the year, 2015 is offering some unexpected perks for those who use this fuel for home comfort in cold weather. Several factors are contributing to a drop in fuel prices that hasn’t been seen for over a decade in some parts of the country.
The Perfect Climate for Lower Prices
Several changes in the fuel sector are impacting heating oil prices, creating the perfect climate for some of the cheapest prices seen in years. Drilling in Texas and North Dakota has driven oil and petroleum prices down as the United States becomes less reliant on foreign imports. Ten years ago, 60 percent of the U.S. oil and petroleum supply was imported. Today, that number is halved, according to the Maine Sun Journal. Production is expected to continue at the current rate for at least a couple years.
A massive supply of propane, heating oil, and natural gas is causing prices to plummet. Reports from around the country are consistent that America is seeing an unexpected drop in the price of heating oil and gas.
Decreased Prices for All Fuels
Gasoline and heating oil follow the same trends, so the factors that are causing these unexpected price declines in heating oil are making it cheaper to drive as well. These complementary trends can serve to further increase the decline in overall heating prices as lower gas prices make it more affordable to transport and deliver heating oil, which is itself cheaper to begin with. Together, this means that customers will see not only a lower price on heating oil, but they’ll also see a minimal add-on for delivery services in many areas, too.
Homeowners who are looking to assess the outlook for heating oil prices can gain valuable information by following the trends for gasoline, which are often more heavily publicized. What you’re paying at the gas station can serve as an excellent indicator for what you’ll pay to power your home with propane or heat with oil.
Seasonal Perks of These Prices
Gas prices this fall are impacted both by the surplus that’s causing gas prices to drop and by the seasonal switch to winter fuel. Winter blend fuel is cheaper to produce than what’s sold in summer, and refineries have already shifted gears to this cost-efficient option. Winter gasoline can cost drivers between 10 and 25 cents less per gallon, according to WANE staff reporters.
Fuel Prices Drop Nationally
In the middle of September, WANE staff reporters shared that national average gasoline prices had fallen 7 cents in just a week, to $2.33. This was the lowest price seen since the middle of February. Compared to prices a year ago, the country is seeing a decrease of $1.07. Gas prices have seen the biggest decrease in Indiana and Hawaii, where prices are down $1.28 a gallon. In Michigan, the decrease is $1.24 compared to last year, while Connecticut residents are seeing gas prices about $1.20 lower.
Even states that are seeing the smallest overall change are experiencing a decline. In Nevada, gas prices are down 57 cents. California, Alaska, New Mexico, and Utah are also seeing some of the smallest declines in the country, ranging from 79 to 61 cents less than prices this time last year.
Around the country, gas stations are making the news for their low prices. A Citgo in Newington, Connecticut reportedly drew lines of cars with a price of $2.08 a gallon, the lowest seen since April. Meanwhile, some customers in Louisiana are finding prices under $2 a gallon, which is the lowest the country has seen since 2004.
Record Prices Available in Maryland
In Maryland, residential heating oil prices in 2015 are the lowest they’ve been since October 2010. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported prices of $2.89 a gallon in January and $2.99 at the end of March, when the most recent data was collected. The average for the Central Atlantic region, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, is even lower at $2.97 at the last report.
The Price Perks of Heating Oil
In the United States, approximately 6.2 million homes use heating oil for warmth. The majority of these are in the Northeast, between Maryland and Maine. This part of the country consumes about 87 percent of the heating oil used in America. In some years, heating oil has proven a pricey alternative to natural gas, but falling prices are adding to the benefits of using heating oil.
The price for heating oil in the United States is about $1.10 cheaper than this time last year, putting it below $3 a gallon. Overall, this difference will add up to approximately $3 billion in savings for Northeastern homeowners, potentially creating a much brighter holiday season in this area.
Assessing the Outlook for Fuel
Professionals around the country are weighing in on the trend, making their predictions about whether prices will continue at these historic levels. Ken Santarelli of Pennsylvania’s Santarelli & Sons Oil predicts five years of low heating oil prices, owing to the influx of Iranian oil on the market and a slowing economy in China as well as the recent increase in U.S. oil production. At Button Oil Co., also in Pennsylvania, the company’s president Eddie Burton predicts that prices won’t drop much lower.
Jeff Pelton, the senior East Coast petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, expects low fuel prices to persist for several months. The New York Times reports that executives believe it will be years before oil returns to its standard price of $90 or $100 a barrel. This may indicate a long stretch of good fortune for homeowners who rely on heating oil for home comfort. There seems to be a general consensus among all reports that prices will at least stay low through the current fall and winter season, barring any unforeseen disasters.
Cashing in on the Benefits
There’s no question that they’ll come as wonderful news to those in the Maryland and DC area who rely on heating oil for their homes. While the overall outlook for oil prices is favorable for them staying low, it’s always a smart strategy to schedule delivery and cash in on low heating oil prices as soon as possible. The traditional trend is for heating oil prices to increase as winter approaches, so this decline will be an unexpected perk for the many Maryland and DC homeowners who rely on the fuel.
Stock up now and schedule your annual maintenance visit to make sure your heating system is in peak condition for the season ahead. A well-maintained system will enjoy better fuel efficiency, further stretching every dollar that you put into heating your home.
If you’re ready to cash in on these low prices and fill up on heating oil, contact Griffith Energy Services at (888) 474-3391. We offer a number of delivery options for residential fuel. With gas delivery locations in Maryland, Delaware, Northern Virginia, eastern West Virginia, and Washington DC, as well as propane delivery locations in Carl King, Hagerstown, and Meintzer, it’s easy to find a convenient location nearby. Check your fuel levels and schedule a visit now to prepare for the season ahead.
Image provided by Shutterstock