1. Do an energy audit NOW to identify where you need to make your home more energy efficient. Things like proper insulation, energy efficient windows (have them installed by a registered home improvement contractor), and programmable thermostats can make a big difference in your energy consumption.
2. Schedule a yearly tune-up on your furnace or boiler now. A dirty or poorly adjusted unit can waste a significant amount of oil.
3. If your furnace or boiler is over 20 years old, consider replacing it with a newer energy efficient unit. This can pay for itself within a year or two at todayís oil prices.
4. Know your tank capacity and what you use on average per year so that you donít over-buy or contract for way more oil than youíll need.
5. Check the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM) website for wholesale and retail oil prices. These prices are posted on a regular basis during the heating season and can give you an idea of the going rate for oil in your area. If a company is offering fuel at a price significantly under these reported amounts, take this as a red flag and be very cautious before doing business with this company. Go to www.ct.gov under Energy Information or go directly to the OPM oil prices webpage at:
6. Make sure the dealer you buy from is registered with the State Department of Consumer Protection, as required by law. Visit www.ct.gov/dcp and go to License Verification, or call 860-713-6160.
7. Given todayís oil market, pre-buy contracts are risky, since you donít know if the price will drop in the near future. If you do a pre-buy contract, use a credit card that has purchase protection and buy only from a dealer that you have done business with in the past.
8. Cap price plans, which set a maximum per-gallon price for the season, are less risky than pre-buys.
9. Any contract that you sign must meet requirements under Connecticut law. Any contract for the retail sale of home heating oil (or propane gas) that offers a guaranteed price plan, including a fixed price contract, must be in writing and all terms and conditions must be disclosed in plain language. The disclosure information must immediately follow the language concerning the price or service that could be affected and must be printed in at least twelve-point boldface type. The contract can be for no longer than eighteen months and shall also indicate:
The amount of funds you paid to the dealer under the contract,
The maximum number of gallons of home heating oil (or propane gas) committed by the dealer for delivery to you under the contract, and
That performance of the prepaid home heating oil or propane gas contract is secured.
No later than thirty days after the end date of the contract, undelivered home heating oil (or propane gas) owed to you under the contract shall be reimbursed to you, unless you and the oil dealer agree otherwise. This agreement should be in writing for your protection.
10. Ask for a signed, dated copy of any contract that you sign, and hold on to all your oil delivery receipts for a least a year, in case there is a dispute,
Call the Department of Consumer Protection at 860 713-6160 if you have a question about heating fuel or your fuel contractor.
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