Now, anyone who's serious about their home heating has likely thought about whether or not they're being gypped by the oil company. I remember back when I lived in a residence with oil heat, I would make this hypothesis to my wife all the time. However, she'd usually just shake her head and write it off as one of my conspiracy theories, such as how the mailman is probably holding our mail for longer than necessary or how the mechanic is constantly adding extra fees.
However, my theory was partially validated on February 13, when state officials in Alaska released the results of a report on commercial home heating oil meters in remote locations across the state.
The study is interesting in the fact that it took place in areas where the Alaska Division of Measurement Standards and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (MSCVE) was unable to inspect these homes as easily – in this case, they needed to send representatives by plane or boat. As such, oil companies were able to make deliveries at these homes without any of the added government safety checks that protect consumers in more accessible parts of the country.
According to the MSCVE, nearly half of all the studied home heating meters were out of tolerance, with 65 percent of these meters skewed in favor of the oil companies. In one example, the state agency indicated that a homeowner was overcharged by 11.7 percent, meaning that for every 300 gallons of oil the individual orders, he or she pays an extra $210.
I'm not suggesting this indicates that all oil companies are trying to stiff consumers, but rather trying to highlight the importance of vigilance. Whether it's checking your home heating meters yourself, or performing repair on an electric heater or manual thermostat to make sure the product is performing up to expectations, individuals can better protect their money by making the right investments and paying attention to the details.
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