Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

House warmers' workshop: Part 4

Help with the high cost of heating

Chicken soup for your heating bill
Illustration: Jon Snyder / Daily News
Illustration: Jon Snyder / Daily News


By BECKY BATCHA
batchab@phillynews.com
215-854-5757

Like the mayor, most of our households are facing a fearsome budget gap. Already stretched to the limit, we’ll soon be turning our pockets inside out to shake loose some money for the winter heating bills.

The miserable economy has one silver lining: The latest projections from the U.S. government, announced last week, say that home-heating oil will average a not-completely ruinous $2.75 a gallon — down 56 cents a gallon from last year.

So the average house in the mid-Atlantic, burning the average 900 gallons over the course of the winter, will only be paying about $2,475.

Gulp. Only.

Natural-gas prices are expected to be up just 2 percent nationally, as opposed to the 18 percent increase the government had been anticipating earlier. Assuming normal winter temperatures, the cost to heat the average Philly house is projected to be $1,970.

Again, good-ish news.

But again, gulp.

For this installment of House Warmers’ Workshop, we’ve searched for novel ways, which go above and beyond the standard belt-tightening, to help offset those four-figure outlays.

The savings total $826.05 and don’t call for any real sacrifice, unless you really hate chicken soup.

Still coming up short? Consider enrolling in a budget plan to stretch your winter fuel payments over 12 months. To your right, we crunch the numbers on those.

For low-income families, there are bigger grants from Pennsylvania’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program this year to help make ends meet, along with more generous eligibility criteria. See our “LIHEAP Update” box for the details, and see our list off other programs to help you stay warm.*

Shop around for new insurance quotes Annual savings: $175 Consumer Reports ran the numbers in an article this summer and found that the average person can save about $175 by calling around for new bids on auto and life insurance policies. CR reporter Jeff Blyskal says it’s one of the best ways there is to pare household expenses.
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.