It’s the small victories, really!

This week I had a minor triumph. For the first time ever, I had a $0.00 fuel oil bill.

I’m still kind of in shock.

Now you may think it odd that I would even be thinking of fuel oil bills…home heating oil bills…in early September, especially as I’ve been bragging the past few months about the amazing weather we’ve had all summer. I mean, I’ve wondered if SE Alaska has suddenly migrated over toward Hawaii, such has been our good fortune. This is the forecast I saw for this week:

September sunshine!

September sunshine!

Pretty sweet!

We get automatic fuel oil deliveries throughout the year. They’re scheduled to come every other month and top off the tank. Summer, even cooler summers, costs are lower. But with a furnace that runs year round…I don’t understand these intricacies, but apparently even when the thermostats are set to -10, the furnace kicks on to keep water in the boiler “pre-heated.” You know, in case the temperature suddenly drops in July, and we need to warm up immediately or something. This is what I gathered from the plumber/heater guy who understands these things…the one I hired to service the furnace back in June, and then asked to TURN THE MONSTER OFF! I figured if I couldn’t trick it into hibernating by turning the thermostats down to nothing, I’d pull out the big guns and just unplug.

The service guy warned me that we might see some leakage…apparently boilers…furnaces…whatever the monster in the basement is called…don’t like to go quietly. But I was determined to be free from heating costs, at least temporarily. So after the annual service, we took a deep breath and flipped the power switch.

Silence. Blissful silence! I love the sound of nothing running!

And no leakage. Not sure why I hadn’t thought to do this before. But so far, seems like we’re ok. We just stopped feeding the pig.

The real payoff came this week. I came home yesterday to find a little love note from the oil company on my basement door. That’s how it always happens. I’m having a normal day, feeling fine, and suddenly, POW! I see it. That little envelope that tells me the truck has been here. Stopped in front of my house, delivering fuel. Just when I’d gotten over the trauma of the last bill, they’ve done it again.

I say “trauma” because:  you never know.

Sometimes when the tank is filled, the bill is $400. I’ve seen it run $500. I think the highest love note I ever got was in the $800+ range. But I’ve mostly blocked that one from my mind…too painful to revisit with any regularity.

Mind you, these prices are just for the fuel oil. Electricity, water, sewer…those are all separate little joys that have their very own monthly bill. Not that I have a problem with that. I understand how utilities work. I use these services every month, I pay every month.

That’s what’s been so galling about the fuel oil bill…I don’t really use the furnace in the summer…so why have I been paying?

Well…the only answer I’ve come up with is that the boiler runs all the time, unless you turn it OFF. So now I know. This is the first house we’ve had with this type of heat, and you would know it would take me four years to figure this out. To be fair, several of the summers here could have passed as November, so probably not altogether unreasonable that we’ve had year-round heating costs. But still…fuel oil in July? That’s just wrong!

So yesterday…my little triumph:




Sure hope it comes back up in October when I flip the switch. But for now…aaaahhhh…just enjoying the sight of those little zeros! And best of all…the handwritten note on the side that says, “tank is FULL.”

4 thoughts on “It’s the small victories, really!

  1. Ah…I can understand that feeling! Just GREAT! Sometimes it seems that service people are kinda in kahoots…don’t like to say it, but I’ve heard the odd “chuckle over the pool table” over the years.

    I have electric heat which I seldom turn on even in winter because I can heat my whole little, well-insulated house with the wood stove. When it gets really cold, I fire it up to take the chill off by keeping it going for a few hours. But I keep a base board heater going over the winter in the crawl space. Otherwise, the house is bone chilling cold.

    I shut that heater off from spring til late fall.

    So in the summer, I’ve had a $20.00 electrical bill for two months. That’s using hot water, cooking et al. Living alone helps, of course.

    The most I’ve had to pay for Electricity in the dead of winter was last year – $379 for 2 months. And hauling in wood helps keep me in muscle!


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