Home heating oil prices have risen dramatically since this time last year, from about $3.75 a gallon in November 2021 to about $6 on Long Island. Propane prices have remained essentially steady, near $4 per gallon in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The cost of heating a home with natural gas may be lower than with other fuels, but it is not widely available on the East End.
Help with the cost of residential heating is available from New York State. The Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP, can provide up to $900, and in some instances more, to lower-income homeowners and renters who need it. A family of four making less than $65,000 can qualify, or a single person making about $34,000. People 60 and older and those with a household member under age 6 also may qualify. Emergency payments for residents at risk of running out of fuel or having utility service cut are also available, as are heating equipment repair, replacement, and cleaning under some circumstances. Information about applying for aid is available from the Suffolk Department of Social Services, which can be reached by phone in Riverhead at 631-852-3500.
While heating payment help via HEAP can make lives easier in winter for the poorest residents, increased costs are a burden more widely as well. Regardless of income, New Yorkers can request energy “audits” to determine where heating and cooling can be improved and what kinds of upgrades would be the most effective. Guidance on low-interest financing for equipment improvements and tax credits is available from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA. Income-eligible residents can apply for discounts of up to 50 percent of the cost of energy-efficiency projects.
The state’s Clean Heat Initiative provides assistance on converting houses and businesses to heat pump technology and away from greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels. PSEG Long Island administers a residential efficiency program for which individual ratepayer rebates may be available. It can cover everything from whole-house conversions down to on-demand hot water systems and even “smart” thermostats; in some instances, lower-income residents can get additional benefits.
Home and commercial heating costs are soaring with no end in sight. There are options, however, to save money and help the environment, one just has to know where to look — and deal with the inevitable blizzard of necessary paperwork.