Pike consumers are weathering skyrocketing home heating costs

| 29 Sep 2011 | 07:56

    MILFORD - Home heating costs have risen and homeowners are feeling the pinch as they try to cope with higher prices. According to the US Energy Department, households heating primarily with natural gas likely will spend $281 (38 percent) more for fuel this winter than last winter, while households heating primarily with heating oil can expect to pay, on average, $255 (21 percent) more this winter than last. Those heating with propane can expect to pay an average $167 (15 percent) more this winter, while homes heating primarily by electricity get the smallest hike, on average, $46 (7 percent) more. Some people are trying alternate heating methods such as wood or pellet stoves. Many are trying to keep their homes at reduced thermostat settings to conserve energy costs. Joe Smaligo, a home owner in Gold Key Lake has both electric baseboard heat and a wood burning stove. Joe who works for a local building contractor gets his fire wood for free when trees are cleared for new homes. “I cut them into 18” lengths with a chain saw and then I use a gas powered hydraulic log splitter to finish off the job. I get plenty of free fire wood so I don’t really feel any extra financial burden by the higher price of electric this year”, says Joe. He said, “I can keep my electric heat down and use my wood stove to keep my home very warm.” Another Gold Key Lake homeowner, Peggy Roraback has both an oil fired heat a free standing propane fireplace. Peggy remarked, “The propane fireplace doesn’t heat the whole house especially the bathroom which is down a long hallway so I have to use the oil furnace to keep the house warm.” She hasn’t gotten an oil delivery since this past August. Although she is expecting a delivery early next week she hasn’t had to think about a raise in the price of home heating oil yet. “I try not to use my electric clothes dryer whenever possible I hang my laundry out on the line. If it comes in a little frozen I hang it in front of the propane fireplace and it is nice and dry by morning.” Ed and Agnes Savino, both retired, have only electric baseboard heat in their Dingman home. Their costs have gone up considerably. Ed noted, “Our electric bill, $432, for the month of December is about 50% higher than it was last year at this time,” Ed said. The Savinos are going to solve their high heating costs by going to Florida in January and staying for an extended period. Agnes said’ “We’ll be able to stay until the weather warms up here in Pike County.” Dingman residents Ann Marie and Walter Ward have both electric baseboard heat and a propane fireplace. Ann Marie who “pays the bills” said, “My electric bill for December last year was $140 and for this year it was $200. I don’t feel that was a big increase since there were many colder days this December. “Walter and I both like a cooler house so we keep our thermostats set at 65º to 66º even when we are at home”, remarked Ann Marie. Homeowners we spoke to seem to understand from reports they hear on the media that it is not the small local oil and propane suppliers that are reaping the big profits. The dealers were more outspoken than their consumers. Walter Taylor, owner, of Combined Energy Services noted, “It is the big oil companies that are reporting huge profits and not the smaller guys.” “Propane is in short supply here in Pike County. I have a 30,000 gallon propane storage facility in Delaware Township on Route 739 and we are down to just three percent of capacity.” Taylor says he could reduce his gas prices in the area, but has not been able to get township approval for a larger storage unit. Noting fuel oil prices are up about $40, Wilson Fuel Oil owner Debra Wilson agreed.“The big investors of fuel reserves are bringing the price up. The government could step in but they don’t seem to be that interested. President Bush has his hands in the oil business just like some other elected officials.” she charged. “I am amazed how people are managing the high fuel costs, high mortgages, high gasoline prices, the holiday gift buying season, and still carrying on in spite of all this.” said Jeff Clune of Deer Park Oil. He checked his records and noted that oil is at least .35¢ per gallon higher this year. “Three years ago oil was $1.30 to $1.50 per gallon and now it is $2.35 per gallon. That is a tremendous increase and there is not much I can do about it.”