The end of summer signals cooler temps, the agricultural harvest, along with corresponding cooler temperatures and the start of a new heating season. The demand increases for propane and diesel fuel for agricultural uses and for propane and heating oil for the Minnesotans who use those fuels to heat their homes.
“Now is the time to buy propane, heating oil or diesel fuel to take advantage of lower prices,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “We also want Minnesotans to know that help is available if they are struggling to pay their heating bills.”
For those Minnesotans who rely on propane, diesel and heating oil, the Minnesota Department of Commerce recommends the following:
• Buy early. Fill up fuel tanks to minimize the high-demand prices before the winter months. It’s usually best to buy during the summer and early fall when there is less demand and prices are generally lower.
• Consider a budget plan to spread out the payments. Most propane distributors offer budget plans for their customers. Distributors must also notify budget-plan customers of price or fee changes that may affect their monthly payment amount by more than 20%.
• Legal rights. Legislation passed in 2014 established consumer protections such as transparent pricing (distributors must inform customers of current per-gallon price and additional charges, fees and discounts) and the prohibition of extraneous fees (adding any service, distribution, transportation or other fees to the bills of customers who enter into a contract with the distributor are prohibited).
• Get assistance. Low-income customers can apply for the state’s Energy Assistance Program that helps low-income customers pay their energy bills. An average grant per household is about $500 for the year. Information about the Energy Assistance Program is available on the Minnesota Department of Commerce website or by calling 1-800-657-3710.
• Explore energy efficiency options. Commerce also recommends exploring options to reduce propane and heating oil demand. Consider energy conservation and efficiency measures that will lower heating demand, such as programmable thermostats, air sealing and insulation. Consider alternative heating systems such as solar thermal to supplement existing systems.
Contact the Minnesota Commerce Department’s Energy Information Center with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-657-3710.