PURCHASING HOME HEATING OIL
The Suffolk County Executive’s Office, Department of Weights and Measures, routinely receives consumer inquiries about the sale of home heating oil. To help you with this consumer purchase decision, the Office offers the following information to commonly asked questions:
WHAT IS THE “AVERAGE” COST OF HOME HEATING OIL?
The price of home heating oil in Suffolk County can vary substantially depending on where you live and the type of service you choose. Compare prices in home heating oil ads in local newspapers to get an understanding of the average price per gallon in your area.
WHAT METHODS OF PURCHSE OR TYPES OF SERVICE ARE AVAILABLE?
Home heating oil can be purchased on a cash on delivery (C.O.D.) basis or under the terms of a full service contract.
C.O.D. DELIVERY offers lower prices and allows the consumer to comparison shop. A consumer can save approximately 20 cents per gallon, especially if the purchase is made during the “off season” when prices are low. Be aware, however, that a C.O.D. delivery requires you to anticipate your heating oil needs and to make arrangements to be home to pay the driver. The office can provide you with a chart to help you measure your tank capacity so you don’t run out. With C.O.D. delivery you must also arrange to have someone available to make emergency repairs.
FULL SERVICE CONTRACTS offer automatic delivery which includes a maintenance agreement with 24-hour emergency service on your oil burner. These contracts may provide payment options such as a 30-day credit plan or other budget plans. A budget plan will spread your heating oil charges evenly over a 10 or 12 month period. This will not reduce your overall cost, but will help avoid peak winter bills. Full service delivery usually costs more per gallon for oil, and a minimum purchase may be required during the heating season.
Read your fuel service contract carefully! In most cases, it will prevent you from making purchases from other dealers during the term of the contract.
IS THE CONSUMER PROTECTED AGAINST SHORTMEASURE OR DECEPTIVE BILLING?
All oil meters must be inspected by Weights and Measures officials of the Department of Consumer Affairs. All properly inspected meters will have medallions affixed to them. Suffolk consumers are protected by local law which requires oil dealers to use meters that print serialized numbers on tickets (including driver and truck identification) at the time of delivery. All tickets must be dated and must have the number of gallons delivered mechanically imprinted on the ticket. This information is important to Weights and Measures inspectors who investigate consumer complaints. On cash sales, drivers are required to get the consumers’ signature on the delivery ticket before the ticket is inserted into the meter on the delivery truck. This prevents the opportunity to switch tickets.
WHAT ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE TO CONSUMERS?
The Home Energy Assistance Program (H.E.A.P.) helps people pay their heating bills. Seniors may contact Suffolk County Office for the Aging at (631) 853-8326. All others may call the Department of Social Services for information and assistance at (631) 853-8825.