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Understanding un-regulated utilities

Oil, Propane, and Wood are un-regulated utilities in Massachusetts.

Understanding Oil Heating

There are two types of contracts available if you heat your home with oil:

  • A “fixed price contract,” allows you to lock into a set price. This means you will pay a certain price per gallon for the entire season, even if the cost of home heating oil goes up or down.
  • A “capped price contract,” is when the oil company puts a maximum price, or “cap,” on the cost of oil during the heating season, but lets the price change with the market rate below this cap. If the cost goes down, you may pay less. Note that the heating season generally runs from November to March, although it can be extended in severe winters.

Before entering into a contract with a home heating company, ask questions.

  • Know what the start and end dates for the contract are and what the cost per gallon is.
  • Make sure to get all the details in writing and carefully read all of the terms before signing.
  • Keep a copy of the contract and any other related paperwork, including any advertisements the company placed at the time of purchase.

If the oil dealer violates the terms of the agreement, the Attorney General’s Office may be able to help.

File a complaint with our Consumer Advocacy & Response Division.

What to Know When Heating with Propane

It is difficult to comparison shop for propane, and you should consider a few factors to determine if you are getting the best value. In some cases, the propane dealer owns the tank and you are only renting it. This is especially important to know if you want to switch dealers.

Propane is also priced differently from oil or gas, and you may be charged a higher rate if you use very little fuel each year. Many propane dealers offer a “balanced billing” payment plan that allows you to spread out yearly costs over many months, lowering the cost of higher bills during heating season. Remember to read all contract terms carefully, and ask about all fees and charges.

Before signing a contract with a home heating company, ask questions.

  • Know what the start and end dates for the contract are and what the cost is.
  • Make sure to get all the details in writing and carefully read all of the terms before signing, especially if the dealer owns the tank.
  • Keep a copy of the contract and any other related paperwork, including any advertisements the company placed at the time of purchase.

If the propane dealer violates the terms of the agreement, the Attorney General’s Office may be able to help.

File a complaint with our Consumer Advocacy & Response Division.

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