Brrr! Cold snap means scramble for heating oil


WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A lot of people learned the hard way Monday morning that they need heating oil. It was a shocking cold snap, with temperatures at or below freezing around southern New England.

Gas-heated homes just turned on the thermostat, but the Oil Heat Institute and the fuel companies it represents were inundated with phone calls asking for oil service.

“They needed it yesterday,” said Roberta Fagan, the executive director of the Oil Institute of Rhode Island trade association. “Because of course, they weren’t looking at their fuel gauge — [they were] enjoying the warm summer and warm fall — and all of a sudden we had a frost.”

A look at the chilly weather forecast did predict for Fagan and her colleagues orders would be up this week. “That definitely rang true,” she said. By the time she walked in the door Monday, there were six calls looking for oil deliveries; within an hour, 15 more were added to the list.

Stats from Rhode Island’s Office of Energy Resources show heating fuel prices are down more than a dollar a gallon right now (at $2.23 a gallon) compared to the price in March, $3.26 a gallon.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts there will be a 25-percent savings this year over last year for oil heat users. Fagan said consumers will see immediate savings — but they’ll also have more resources for weatherizing their homes.

While supply and demand does drive prices, Fagan also said the location where the oil is produced — specifically the bio-diesel blend in Rhode Island — can make a difference.

“We’re able to offset those high costs just by making the fuel here in the United States,” she said.

A reminder, Fagan added: when the snow does arrive, you should try to make sure to keep a clear, safe path to the fill and vent pipes to keep deliveries moving quickly and safely.Helping others keep the heat on

Fagan is running the Citizens Bank Pell Bridge Run/Walk on Sunday to raise money for the Rhode Island Oil Heat Charitable Foundation, for those who need help making ends meet and paying for their heat. If you’re interested in helping Fagan raise money, go to her CrowdRise page.

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