Skip to main content

Consumers and Heating Oil

Approximately seven percent of American households - some 8.5 million in total, with nearly one-third in the Northeastern states - rely on heating oil to keep warm in winter.

Late summer is a good time for consumers to further winterize their homes to help reduce fuel use (and save money) and to explore options for purchasing winter supplies, including seasonal contracts with heating oil companies that may offer price advantages.

Ever wonder where heating oil comes from? Or why prices fluctuate? Or even how you can help to lower your heating oil bills? Residential Heating Oil Prices: What Consumers Should Know by the U.S. Department of Energy helps answer some of those questions.

As the weather grows colder, refineries manufacture most (about 90%) of the heating oil consumers need, but they also draw on supplies produced earlier in the year.

Maximum inventory of heating oil in the reserve will be two million barrels. The Department of Energy believes that a two-million-barrel reserve will provide relief from weather-related shortages for approximately ten days, which is the time for ships to bring heating oil from the Gulf of Mexico to New York Harbor. See EIA's information on the Northeast Heating Oil Reserve.

Help Paying Heating Bills

You may be able to get financial aid to help pay your heating bills this winter. The federal LIHEAP program (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) gives money to states to help qualifying families pay their heating bills.