FAQs

Heating oil being delivered to a home

All your questions answered

Here are some frequently asked questions about our program. Have a question not answered here? Email us at hello@greenenergyconsumers.org.

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Where is the dealer list?

We do not post a dealer list because, by contract, we are not allowed to disclose our dealers’ names. While they are willing to offer discounted prices to our members, our dealers have their own full-price customers and do not wish to undercut their other business.

However, we understand your need to know that you are signing up with a quality dealer. We work hard to make sure our dealers are delivering good service. When we add a new heating oil dealer to our network, we check with the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General’s office to investigate their history of consumer complaints.

We work with the oil dealers directly if any issues arise leveraging our members’ group buying power to demand quality. Most of our dealers have had long term associations with our organization, and we do not continue to work with dealers who are not treating members fairly.

Who will my dealer be?

We assign new members to dealers based on the following criteria:

  • If you are already using one of our dealers, we assign you back to them, but at our discounted price.
  • If someone referred you to our program, we will try to assign you to their dealer if possible.
  • If we only have one dealer serving your area, then that will be the dealer you are assigned. We are constantly working on adding more dealer options.
  • If none of the above applies, we will assign you the dealer closest to you as long as that dealer meets your delivery and payment preferences.

Can I keep my current dealer?

Yes, but only if they are one of our dealers. If your current dealer is not part of our network, you will have to close your account with your current dealer. It is best to write a letter to your old dealer when closing your account. Often when called, a dealer will offer you an inducement to remain with them. That may bring immediate savings to you, but over time the dealer will be looking to return your account to full retail.

How are prices set?

We negotiate the margin of profit a dealer may charge over the wholesale price, and prevent them from charging our members any more than that margin by contract. We receive daily quotes from our dealers’ local wholesale locations so that we may know the price that our dealers are paying. We post our average price daily and our members may sign up for our Members Only Site to see their dealer’s price for any day since 2004.

What is Bio-Heat? How does it work?

Biodiesel is a type of diesel fuel manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant greases. Currently we have some dealers offering a B-20 (20% biodiesel, 80% regular heating oil) blend. Biodiesel is a much better product than what you consumed in the past since government regulations are requiring oil suppliers to dramatically reduce the content of sulfur in heating oil (from 2000 parts per million a few years ago to 15 parts per million). Learn more.

Can I lock, fix, cap or pre-buy?

We do not offer cap prices because consumers win if they pay the price of the day without the added expense of the insurance built into a locked-in price or a deal to buy oil up front. Cap prices are a gamble for dealers, so they are designed to make a profit no matter what happens to the wholesale price of oil. Consumers who choose a cap end up paying extra for that service over time.

Statistically, over time, spreading your purchases over the year (typically 5-6 deliveries) is proven to be the cheapest way to buy your oil. Certainly in some years when the spot price of oil spikes, locking in or going with a cap may pay off. But the benefit is likely to be just for that one year. Our members win in the long run by saving more on average over most years.

How do budget plans work?

Dealers encourage customers to enter into budget plans. Budget plans make heating oil purchases more like a regular utility. You pay a set amount as a “bill” each month to your dealer.

Dealers generally estimate what your expected average oil usage will be for the upcoming year. To calculate how much you owe them on your monthly “bill”, dealers estimate how many gallons you will use for the upcoming year. They then multiply that number by the fixed price level they have been selling to their full retail customers, and divide the resulting figure by the number of months in their budget plan. The months of the plan may vary from 9 to 12. If you sign up after June or July, dealers may ask for 2 months (or you may negotiate to pay 3 months over the first two months) in order to build up a balance before you begin to take deliveries. Budget plans are seasonal and typically you must sign up during the summer months.

If the price estimate proves wrong (up or down) or your consumption varies, dealers have the option of changing your budget rate twice during the heating season. Often this happens in December or February when they review their budgets. When you receive a delivery, you will be charged the Mass Energy budget price for that dealer on the day of the delivery. Typically, this price works out to be cheaper and you may end up with a credit with the dealer.

Why can Mass Energy offer a great price all year long?

We have been serving heating oil consumers since 1982, and we have a good idea of what gives them peace of mind. We are careful to form relationships with full-service dealers who have a proven track record of reliability and customer service. Our prices should be compared to the long-term average prices of full-service heating oil dealers. In this regard, we have saved our members money every year since we started.

Our prices aren’t always the lowest on a given day, but the prices our dealers are allowed to charge our members are almost always lower than the prices charged by other full-service oil dealers when their prices are averaged over the whole heating season. There may always be a deal or a dealer that operates at a price that is equal to or lower than our price on any given day. However, since 1982, we have been operating on the premise of fixing the dealers’ margins and paying the price of the day with great success. We have grown to 11,000+ households in New England as a result.

Cost of service policies? How are they set? What are the requirements?

We do not negotiate the price of service policies. However, we do ensure that our members are not paying any more than a dealer’s regular customers.

Dealers require you to be on automatic delivery when choosing a service contract. Many also require a heating system or tank inspection as well. Some require that you pay for a tune-up prior to being accepted for a service policy. This is especially true if your system hasn’t been receiving regular maintenance. If your system has been serviced by another full-service dealer, there should be a card near your system describing the service history of the system. A dealer should be able to evaluate your system and the risks involved in issuing a policy from the information on that card.

Why does the dealer ask for Social Security number? Why credit check? Other options for credit check (credit card)?

Dealers may ask for your social security number and perform a credit check. This is standard and you may refuse. However, if you do so, the dealer has the right to refuse to serve you.

So why a credit check? Dealers are increasingly vigilant regarding customers’ credit worthiness. Especially with their margins restricted by our program, if a member doesn’t pay a dealer, it takes a long time for the dealer to make up for that loss. The cost of oil is well over 80% of the price that the dealer charges our members. The final 20% (or less) is for the dealer to pay for the truck, driver, office staff, insurance, and other overhead before they can get a net profit. As a result, dealers are keen not to lose any money to bad debts.

Increasingly, dealers will insist that customers keep a credit card on file in case the customer fails to make a payment. A credit card is a preferable option for consumers because paying immediately with a credit card gets the cash on delivery (COD) price. But, customers still have 30 days to pay at the basic billing price.

Do the Discount Heating Oil Service dealers provide full service?

All but a few of our dealers provide full service and can maintain, repair, and evaluate your heating system and respond to emergencies 24/7. Those that are not full-service have contracts with service companies or other oil service technicians to fill the gap. Most offer service policies. Those that do not offer policies often have a fixed rate for a tune-up.

Do I need a tune-up?

We highly recommend every member get a tune-up (or cleaning) for their oil burner annually before the start of the heating season. A tune-up saves you money over time by keeping your system running efficiently. Feel free to download our free guide on what to look for in a tune-up.

How can I sign up? Are there fees to join?

You can join online now. You can join for $25 for 1 year or $50 for 3 years. We offer a discounted membership fee for senior citizens for$15 for 1 year and $45 for 3 years. Non-residential member dues are $25, and non-profits may join for free. We also waive the fee for people who receive fuel assistance upon verification of your fuel assistance status. Please note that membership dues are non-refundable and are not tax-deductible.

How do I get verified for fuel assistance?

If you don’t have fuel assistance, but need the help, check with your CAP agency to see if you qualify. If you do, the CAP will provide you with a fuel assistance approval letter. After joining the Discount Heating Oil Service you will need to provide a copy of that letter for us to verify that you are an active recipient.

How is Smart Touch Energy's online ordering different from the Discount Heating Oil Service

Both of these programs offer flexible delivery options, access to burner service, and oil at a fair price. Smart Touch Energy differs from the Discount Heating Oil Service primarily in three ways:

  • Smart Touch is NOT a Green Energy Consumers operated program – Smart Touch Energy runs this separate program. We are partnered with them.
  • How you order your oil – Smart Touch Energy is entirely online and you order the oil when you want it, based on your schedule. It is especially easy for one-time deliveries because there are no long-term contracts or obligations to order a second time. You can also set up automatic deliveries. The Discount Heating Oil Service pairs you directly with a local, full-service dealer from whom you order oil via phone as often as you like (Will Call service), or you can let the dealer be responsible for maintaining your oil level through automatic deliveries.
  • The relationship you have with the oil dealer – Smart Touch Energy is designed to get you a quick delivery with a local and reputable dealer. That dealer is not necessarily always the same from one delivery to the next. If you are looking for service and delivery from one dealer with whom you have a direct relationship, the Discount Heating Oil Service is a better choice.
  • The relationship Green Energy Consumers has with the oil dealer – Smart Touch Energy dealers are managed through Smart Touch Energy. Therefore, Green Energy Consumers does not necessarily have a close relationship with Smart Touch dealers. We do have long-term relationships with our Discount Heating Oil Service dealers, allowing us to intercede on your behalf if a dispute ever arises between you and your dealer. As a Green Energy Consumers Discount Heating Oil Service member you have access to full customer support regarding your oil service, energy efficiency, our Members Only site, and quarterly newsletters. Smart Touch customers must contact Smart Touch Energy’s customer service when issues arise.
  • Smart Touch is free to use – there is no membership fee as with the Discount Heating Oil Service.

Read the FAQs for Smart Touch.

Save on oil with local dealers.
All year long.