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Residents filling up tanks anticipating high home heating costs

It's the first official day of autumn and the temperature dips are reminding Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania residents of the frigid weather ahead.

TAMAQUA, Pa. — The leaves in Tamaqua may not be a good indicator, but the fall months have arrived. Some residents are already feeling the chill and wondering how much they'll have to pay to heat their homes this year. 

It's a question Fegley Oil Company President Donald Fegley hears quite often from the more than 10,000 customers his company services. With fluctuation in the oil markets, it's hard to answer.

"1974, the embargo, that's the last time I've seen where the terminals are running out," he said. "That's not good. That's scary."

Fegley said supply concerns are a big reason for the price increases in recent months. 

"Propane actually has been pretty good," Fegley said. "Heating oil, diesel especially for the trucks, that's been tough. I even had to send a truck out to Pittsburgh a couple months ago, and that's unusual."

Diesel fuel still stands at over $5 per gallon, while home heating oil hovers near $4 per gallon. It's part of why Fegley said his crews have been unusually busy, making deliveries even through the summer months. Customers, he said, are trying to stock up while they can.

"To fill a tank that's empty, you're talking probably $1,000," he said. "I tell people, even if you can only get 50 gallons, get 50 gallons this week, 50 gallons at next pay. Try to get your tank full before the winter, before it gets cold. It's coming."

He sees more customers taking advantage of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs, or LIHEAP, but some are hesitant. 

"A lot of, especially elderly people, would not reach out. They wouldn't," he said. "Even if it was available to them, they wouldn't do it. I think they should reach out and take that help."

Fegley said the county and state are firing up LIHEAP programs early this year, and you may be eligible for assistance. Visit the PA Department of Human Services website for more information.

Check out WNEP’s YouTube channel. 

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