Increasing furnace oil costs forcing consumers to find heating alternatives

Increasing furnace oil costs forcing consumers to find heating alternatives

Paul Wilts has a 600-litre oil tank next to his Campbell River home that will get used almost twice over an average winter.

However, when a fuel company recently said they were on their way with an automatic delivery, Wilts cancelled it when he heard how much it was going to cost.

“He said it was $2.40 a litre and I said, ‘Well, I’m going to hold on for a while,'” said Wilts.

He thought the price would eventually come down as it has at the gas pump this week, but was told otherwise.

“And he said, ‘Well, it doesn’t affect diesel or furnace oil, so there’s no price drops in the near future for furnace oil.'”

Wilts uses about 1040 litres over an average of five months of heating to heat his 1100-square-foot home. This year cost him $1,389 at $1.34 a litre, but 2023 would see it increase 80 per cent to almost $2,500.

“I put a healthy budget in at $1,200 a year for heating,” he added. “Last year was $1,400, so take and give a little bit with oil prices. But when you’re doubling it, that’s going to hurt a lot of budgets.”

The average price of furnace oil in B.C. has seen a steady increase since early 2020, when it dipped below a dollar a litre.

The pandemic, an energy crisis in Europe, and the war in Ukraine are all being blamed for the high prices.

It’s also resulting in a major consumer shift to heat pumps.

“The demand for heat pumps today is 50 times what it was two years ago,” said Doug Ingram, owner of 21 Degrees Mechanical in Courtenay.

Ingram says federal and provincial government rebates of up to $11,000 are also a huge draw for customers making the change.

“Two years ago, we were installing heat pumps for people who just wanted an alternative to fossil fuel,” he said. “Now, we’re installing heat pumps for people who just want to take advantage of the rebates and get rid of the fossil fuels.”

In Campbell River, Wilts says he’ll be seeing a local expert soon to make the switch away from oil as well. He says he is considering an electric furnace.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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