Heating Bills Harder To Pay

LACKAWANNA COUNTY — The prolonged cold is now really starting to hit family budgets.

Oil companies in our area tell us they have been swamped with phone calls from customers who are concerned about paying their extraordinary heating bills.

We spoke to employees for an oil company in Lackawanna County who said many of their customers may pay double this winter to heat their homes.

This week with the frigid temperatures, many oil customers are burning extra fuel and ordering more of it and it comes at a high cost.

Cheryl Kidd says this was a delivery she didn’t want but desperately needed. She says the sound of an oil delivery is the sound of her paycheck stretching just about as far as it can.

“It’s paycheck to paycheck. It’s down to the penny, actually down to the penny.”

Kidd’s oil delivery in Throop was one of about two dozen in one day for the worker from Santarelli and Sons. Kidd received 100 gallons for her heating system that she needed much sooner than she expected.

“We went through 240 gallons this year and in a month’s time and we are already getting another 100 gallons. And had fuel left over for last year that we were also using this year.”

Office employees at Santarelli and Sons say Kidd is not alone in struggling to pay her bill this year. They’ve been inundated with calls from customers curious about their rising bill and looking for help.

“Unfortunately our hands are tied. We do all that we can for them, try to work with them, but as far as programs here, our hands are tied,” said Robin Gonsauls at Santarelli and Sons.

The companies are tied to crude oil prices but that’s not the only reason why your bill may have spiked. The workers who fix heating systems say the frigid temperatures are making your furnace or boiler work harder to keep the temperature in your home up. They say you should expect to burn a few more gallons each day.

“I would say you’re definitely going to use a few more gallons a day with temperatures as low as they are,” said John Caviston at Santarelli and Sons.

The folks from Santarelli and Sons say many of the people asking for help are on a fixed income.

Officials from the Area Agency on Aging say they can help find programs for older folks who may be struggling this winter to pay their bills.

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