Home heating prices on residents' minds

(07/31/03) BRIDGEPORT - Folks in southwestern Connecticut are enjoying the warm summer weather. But many are already thinking about home heating oil prices, and whether they should lock in the current rates for the winter. The experts say you need to consider several variables when making your decision.

Thomas Santa of Santa Fuel Company in Bridgeport says home heating oil customers throughout the area are being offered the chance to lock in the current price, which runs an average of $1.32. The rate is 10 cents higher than last year at this time, but Santa says the chances of prices spiking dramatically is greater than prices falling.

UConn Economist John Stiver says the U.S. is susceptible to another bitterly cold winter like last year, and there is political unrest in oil-producing countries including Venezuela and the Middle East. Either scenario would spike demand on an already tight supply of oil, and drive prices up.

Stiver says OPEC's decision Thursday to keep oil production steady at 25.4 million barrels will have no impact on oil prices. So, when you're deciding whether to lock in prices now, consider the political climate in OPEC countries and what meteorologists are predicting for the coming winter.

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