Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

House warmers' workshop: Part 2

TIME TO PAY THE PUMPER
Dan Hanly, of Dan Hanly Oil, delivers fuel oil in Collingdale on May 28, when a gallon was $4.40.
Dan Hanly, of Dan Hanly Oil, delivers fuel oil in Collingdale on May 28, when a gallon was $4.40.

This morning we extend an early and heartfelt happy Linoleum Day to you all.

Linoleum Day, as the people in the trenches of home heating explain it, is the day when Philadelphians roll out of bed, put their feet on the floor and say, "Holy cow, it's cold!"

Most years, it falls in October. And most years, it's the first time any of us think about the upcoming heating season.

But this year is different.

The most recent U.S. government predictions, released yesterday, say that home-heating oil is likely to cost 23% more this winter than last year, with natural gas looking to be up 18%.

How to afford the bite? For low-income households, there are government, utility-company and charity programs to help cover costs and keep the heat on. We list 10 here and point you to aid stations throughout the region that can help you enlist.

For middle-class families, some state funds will be available at some point this fall for weatherizing your house to conserve fuel. Other than that, there's precious little from official channels other than advice to tighten your belt, to steel your resolve and to lay your hands on every tube of caulk and roll of insulation that your budget can bear.

(Visit go.philly.com/housewarm for details on the forthcoming state funds for weatherizing and for tips on battening down the house, from Part 1 of our House Warmers' series.)

Oh, and there's the power of the proletariat to organize collectives and rise up to negotiate prices down.

Yes, comrades, it has come to that.

Home-heating-oil co-ops, which offer good discounts for their members, are enjoying explosive growth. We tell you how to join up.

They can help with applications to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and other resources to help you stay warm this winter. They also run workshops on how to weatherize your house to save money.