Hate to say it, yet the snow has fallen several inches up at a village north of Fairbanks. And the fireweed is gone, the cranberries biting smell lingers in the woods – plus the leaves are turning yellow.  Time to tune up the forced air furnace or sweep the smoke stack on your wood stove.  This might be a good time to ask what changes in fuel markets may have in store for you….

WHAT ARE YOU going to heat with this soon to come winter? Stay with the same fuels? With the environmental factors indicating that winter may be breathing down our necks (word on the local street is that it will be a relatively warm yet long, winter) – and with dividends coming out at roughly $2k each man women and child in a month this may be a good time to think of what you want to burn.  While there is the possibility of partially switching to solar with thermal storage, invest in a ground source heat system,  or possibly stick up an air turbine, most people I know of are looking at that dividend thinking- ‘NOW I can fill the oil tank/wood rack’.

Commodity oil was $54/barrel today (depending on the type) which still puts local heating oil prices in the range after a half year decline in price to roughly be about par cost wise of energy/BTU’s dry wood (satisfactorily processed and delivered to the home for combustion use). It is true that coal bought in town is still the best BTU value per dollar, and some people may be thinking of switching to natural gas when it comes down the Haul Road in a few years with estimates according to the Interior Gas Utility (IGU) and thus decide to remain with whatever heating appliance they have.  Yet even while spillage and contaminated soil is always a possibility with #1 or #2 heating oil, many like the fact that it flows and requires no work once delivered by a retail vender- as well as the benefit of combusting relatively uniformly and in a clean manner.

Anyway, regardless of what fuel you prefer, the cost of BTU’s from oil or wood has roughly equaled out after about a half decade of wood being king (commodity cost wise). Take a look in light of the changing pricing landscape, make some calls and see in the next couple week what you want to burn through the winter- because thinking about it in a couple weeks may be a very cold prospect. –