Wow, I've been researching oil companies over the last two months. It's been interesting. In 2001, we switched over from electric heat to oil heat, so we know all about paying big bills and freezing at the same time! For oil delivery, we went with the company that installed our system because they were really great handling multiple structural issues getting the oil tank installed, etc., and offered us six years of free cleaning and maintenance. Once that was over, it seemed silly to pay at least 10 cents more a gallon for oil---but we liked them and their service, reliability, etc.
Times have changed. So I did some research, and out of seven companies I called, Atlas-Glenmor was by far the cheapest. But here's the deal. They offer two different plans: Ceiling and Variable. With Ceiling, you're paying an "insurance" cost on top of every gallon in order to get the guarantee that your price will not exceed a certain price per gallon. You're paying an extra 15 to 30 cents per gallon for this insurance, and if you figure out how many gallons a year you use, you'll see how that adds up. Of course, this is less risky when the market goes up and down, but if the price of oil is going down, the insurance is not worth it. Ah, but we're not all soothsayers! The Variable rate does not have insurance built in, so at times you can pay 30 cents lower than the Ceiling customers but also way higher than their ceiling price too. (The ceiling price adjusts, depending on what date you start receiving oil, so if you locked in your ceiling rate on November 1st and a week later the price of oil went down, too bad.)
We were ready to sign with Atlas-Glenmor at the variable rate a few weeks ago, and then my husband asked a co-worker about his oil company. Now I'll let you in on a SECRET (especially since you've gotten this far in my reply!).
The Mass Energy Consumer Alliance (www.massenergy.com) works like a co-op by using "the buying power of our 11,000 members to negotiate better prices for consumers." You pay $20/year for this service, where they select one of 30 full-service oil companies to deliver oil to you. (You don't get to choose the oil company because Mass Energy wants to give each oil company a certain percentage of Mass Energy members in order to ensure that the companies stay with the program---and offer the best prices.) The prices are better than any of the oil companies I've called. (Go to the web site to see the chart.) So, we signed up with Mass Energy and now we have a new oil company and we're saving money. So I highly recommend this program.
If you want other money-saving ideas, check out my web sites at www.mombasics.com (national) or www.bedfordkids.com (Massachusetts). ---R.