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WBZ Viewers Curious About Cost Of Heating Homes

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WBZ Viewers Curious About Cost Of Heating HomesCBS

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Massachusetts is now $3.99 a gallon. It could hit $4 this weekend.

The grim milestone has a lot of families wondering about “other” bills. What about oil? What about natural gas?

Lately here at WBZ, we’ve been asking you to declare your curiosity: Tell us what questions and concerns are on your mind.

While it may seem far off, some of you are already declaring your curiosity about home heating costs.

Oil companies are curious about that, too.

Joyce McMahon’s tank is running low. Her oil delivery company just stopped coming — flat out.

A look at her contract might explain why

“I have a locked-in rate of $2.79 a gallon,” McMahon said.

Now, only months later, the wholesale price has more than doubled. No wonder the deliveries stopped.

“I read the contract,” McMahon said. “It doesn’t say, “We’ll fill your tank every time.'”

What the delivery company probably doesn’t realize, McMahon works for a fuel-efficiency-awareness group. It’s the very thing she studies, the very thing a lot of people are curious about.

Like Richard from Southboro.

“I’m curious,” he writes. “What is the outlook and what is the current expert opinion on locking in a price with a season pre-buy?”

“If you can get a cap, that might be the better option,” McMahon advises. “Usually a cap allows you to pay whatever the market rate is, up to a certain point. If it goes over that amount, you don’t have to pay the higher rate, but you’ll get the lower rate if it is available.”

McMahon is considering converting to natural gas. Good idea, says analyst Brian Bethune of Global Insight.

“That would, right now, be less expensive than oil,” Bethune said.

Because he says it will be years, not months, before we see any relief from high oil prices.

“There should be some improvement further out, as we get to the end of 2009 and into 2010,” Bethune said.

And with that in mind, whether it’s oil or natural gas, the experts say we probably won’t be seeing many of those great deals to lock in a price this fall. The distributors just can’t afford to make that kind of commitment.

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