Category Archives: Maine

I’ll Give You the Title to my Car for Some Heat!

It is cold here is Maine, there is snow on the ground and more is coming. My house is old and fuel oil is high.  I’ve had two loads this winter and my tank is dry. I’m using the oven with the door open and the dryer for heat to cut down on the amount the boiler runs. I have disconnected the dryer vent so the heat comes into the house. My wife is disabled and cold. Our Social Security doesn’t cover food and drugs and heat.  So, …. I’ll give you the title to my car for some heat!

That was the story in last Sunday’s NY Times article by Dan Berry.

Let’s bring this to Kansas.  This couple has started through the winter with an unpaid heating bill of $700.  It is not uncommon in that part of the country for homes to cost $2,000 to heat with fuel oil.  Most homes in Kansas heat with natural gas, their typical cost for heating the home and water heating is between $550 and 700 per year.  The cost of fuel oil has risen 18% from January 2011 to January of 2012.  The cost of natural gas is about the same, perhaps down slightly.  If you have propane instead of natural gas, the price range might be in the $700 – 1,200 range.

This is Tuesday night.  The Hartford’s situation has been pinging around some corners of the internet.  Energy Auditors, Insulation Contractors and others that work with improving home performance and lowering energy bills have not only been reading and discussing this story.  They have taken some action.

The first update is from Energy Circle and Peter Troast.

Wonderful news and potential progress for the 60 hours since we started reading the story.  I reading through this I see several takeaway points:

  • This couple will use less heat next year because their house will have additional insulation and air sealing of leaks.  That means it will cost less.
  • The generosity of some people across this country will provide payment for some outrageous heating bills for others that are unable to pay in that community.
  • Other homes need insulation and air sealing so they also can use significantly less heat.

There are some other articles out there.  Read what others are saying.

An Elderly Couple in Maine Offers to Trade Their Car for Fuel Oil, by Allison Bailes, PhD on the excellent Energy Vanguard Blog.

‘America has a heartbeat:’ Donations pour in for home heat, by Erin Cox, Sun Journal

Maine Freezes While Washington Snoozes, by Raymond J. Learsy, Huffington Post

This is the situation Tuesday Evening.  Future updates will be posted below.

 A Letter to the Editor NY Times from the Governor of Maine  Did he really say ‘Don’t blame me or the government?’