Monday, July 07, 2008

Looking ahead to a harsh winter

A while back, I'd posted about rising costs in home heating oil and how this was going to become a major concern for consumers sooner than later. At the time, most of the oil-related focus in the news was about prices at the gas pumps. Now that summer's well on its way, more and more articles are starting to pop up about this coming winter and the effect the ongoing spike in prices will have on those who heat with oil or natural gas -- particularly those in the Northeastern US and in parts of Canada. One option being tossed around in Maine (where 80% of homes are heated by oil) is to add a surcharge to the already ridiculously high heating oil prices and to have this surcharge fund energy efficiency programs. This might be useful to some homeowners, but people who rent their homes and who pay for their own heating oil but have no control over renovating their buildings or changing their heating systems would end up choosing between heat and food this winter to subsidize a program that wouldn't necessarily help them at all. It would basically penalize those who are most in need.

1 comment:

J said...

You know a lot of these things seem like they are good ideas, and yes, they are beneficial for some sectors of society, but as you note, this will only effect those that own their own homes and/or have disposable income.

A lot of people were really excited here when the gov't started offering some tax rebates for renewable energy and efficiency, but such a small segment of the population can take advantage. And those that could benefit from the efficiency measures the most are the ones least likely to have the means or own their own homes.

I am a bit concerned about the winter as our very drafty apartment is heated by natural gas, which just continues to rise. But it doesn't get all that cold here. We can cover windows, use electric space heaters, etc. I worry about people like you, who live so much farther north.

Have you decided if you are going to stay where you are yet or move somewhere with a warmer clime? It might be interesting to see how we all do this winter.