Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

It's a Jolly Season for Oil Heat Users

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

It's a Jolly Season for Oil Heat Users

Article excerpt

Mild weather and plummeting oil prices are slashing heating costs for the roughly one in eight New Jersey households that use oil heat.

These households join natural gas customers -- a much larger share of the state's residents -- in enjoying a drop in costs because of abundant energy supplies.

Heating oil prices have dropped to an average $2.40 a gallon in New Jersey, down about 90 cents a gallon from a year ago, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday. That's the lowest level since 2009; prices were above $4 as recently as the spring of 2014.

The lower prices are "really helpful for my business and my customers," said Scott Majka, owner of Jos. A. Majka Oil in Clifton. He's paying less for wholesale oil, and his customers have been much less likely to ask for extensions on paying their bills.

"When everybody's got a few more bucks in their pocket that they don't have to spend on heat, that's great for everybody," Majka said, although he noted the recent warm weather has cut into his sales volume.

Most customers are "ecstatic about the lower prices," said Wende Nachman, head of the non-profit Citizen Action Oil Group, which obtains discounts on heating oil for about 2,000 members in New Jersey. The oil group's North Jersey members are paying about $1.89 to $1.95 a gallon, she said.

The average household uses from 700 to 800 gallons of heating oil per winter, experts say. Oil at $2.40 a gallon translates into a bill of about $1,680 per season.

Elaine Farkas of Garfield, a 56-year-old administrative assistant, said she spent about $950 when she filled her heating oil tank this year -- down from $1,600 or more in earlier years for comparable oil deliveries.

"It's just extra money you can put toward bills," she said.

Heating oil prices are being affected by the same global oil glut that has pulled gasoline prices down to their lowest levels since 2009 (averaging $1. …

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