Saturday, June 28, 2008

Planning for Home Heating

Do I want to spend $4,000 to heat my home next winter?

It sounds like a crazy question only because I never spent that much before. But my home has an oil furnace, and home heating oil, which is essentially a kind of diesel, costs more than it ever has. It was distressing to pay $3 a gallon for home heating oil last winter. But diesel prices are near $5 a gallon now, and home heating oil prices in midwinter have historically been higher than summer diesel prices.

And oil prices seem to be trending upward. So I have to guess that home heating oil may cost $6 a gallon next winter. At that price, if I simply fill up my oil tank and set my thermostat to room temperature, I’ll pay at least $4,000 for home heating over the course of the heating season.


I have options, of course. I don’t particularly have to heat my home at night. I could rebuild the inside of the exterior walls of my house, replacing the token insulation that was put in in the 1970s with a proper polyethylene wrap and heavy-duty insulation. That and some other fixes could cut my home’s heating profile by about half. I can use electricity for heat. I could put in a word-burning stove. I could drive to someplace warmer for two weeks in the middle of winter.

All of these options have pluses and minuses, but I know I can’t just do what I did last winter, not at the same price, anyway. That’s why I’m thinking about this now.