The U.S. Energy Department says households will have to spend 30 percent more on heating oil this year than they did last winter, and do we ever feel it! Unfortunately, there isn't much on the horizon to indicate things will get better any time soon.
If you've gotten a similar bill, you know how helpless it makes one feel.
After all, we've picked all the low-hanging fruit in an effort to conserve the precious fuel. We've insulated. We've installed a new furnace, we've plugged leaks around doors and, most importantly, we've kept our thermostat set at a chilly 62 degrees. Why, at times I felt so cold that the only thing that would keep my stiff fingers warm was keeping them wrapped around a hot mug of tea.
Why does the price of heating oil just go up and up and up?
The answer lies in the increase in demand for fuels as the economy has begun to pull out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. The Energy Department says that in 2010 demand for diesel fuel, which is nearly identical to heating oil, grew by 3.6 percent. That's a pretty hefty increase, and the gain is matched by improvements in consumption in much of the developed world. The Energy Department says to expect more of the same this year.
Where is all that diesel fuel going? For trucking. As business at factories improves, diesel-fueled trucks ship more goods. Increasing consumer confidence means people start buying more goods, and those goods are shipped to stores or from Web sites like Amazon by trucks that burn diesel fuel.