CONNECTICUT, (USA) - As New England folks settle in to a record cold snap they are watching the price of heating oil go up almost as fast as the mercury in the thermometer goes down.
With average home heating oil prices over the $3.50 per gallon mark, home owners are hoping for more moderate weather, but meteorologists are predicting arctic blasts and more snow-filled cold air masses from the west.
Snow storms, freezing temperatures and normal seasonal supply/demand factors will likely drive up prices even more before spring thaw can offer any help.
While consumers are advised to conserve energy, they are also warned not to set automatic thermostats to drop the temperature in their home too low late at night or while they are away from home. With sub-zero weather, older heating systems may not be able to recover room temperatures fast enough and become overworked and shut down completely. In homes with forced hot-water and "baseboard" heat, check unused rooms and make sure they are getting heat. Leave doors between rooms open to keep heat circulating throughout home -- a frozen pipe in an unused guestroom, basement storage area or other part of the home can shut down an entire heating zone, or worse cause burst frozen pipes and require expensive plumbing work.
If your heat goes out, seek help from a trained home heating oil service company as soon as possible, (don't worry, they are used to calls at 4:00AM when it's freezing out). Copper baseboard heaters have only a 1/2" of water flowing through them, in a very short amount of time, a pipe near a concrete wall, doorway or other area which conducts cold from the outside could freeze. Not long after freezing, the ice inside expands and bursts the pipes -- having seen this first hand, I can tell you its amazing to see what one night without heat can do to a house's entire heating system).