Heating oil is expensive. To compensate for the cost, you may keep your house cooler than you like in the winter months. Even though you can't control the price of oil on the market, there are a few things you can do to get affordable heating oil and then to use your oil more effectively. That will keep your bill at its lowest while keeping you warm on long winter nights. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Stock Up When Price Is Low

Just like gas for your car, the price of heating oil fluctuates on an almost daily basis. The price difference can amount to a lot between the slow summer season and the busy winter season. You can watch prices and fill your oil tank when prices take a dip. Plan on stocking up during the summer before demand drives up prices. While you may not be able to store excess oil on your property, you may find a dealer willing to let you buy the oil in advance and have it delivered regularly during the winter. You'll probably pay less overall, but you run the risk of paying more if you buy when the price is too high.

Pick The Right Plan

Call around to the various oil delivery companies in your area and find out what kind of plans they offer. Some may give you a fixed rate which locks in your price no matter what happens to the market. You'll pay less when prices rise, but you'll also pay more when the prices fall. At least you'll know in advance what your fuel costs will be.

Another option is to sign a contract that has a price cap. This sets an upper limit on the amount you'll need to pay, and to compensate, you'll probably pay a little above market price when the prices drop.

The third option is to pay market price on the day you have your oil delivered. You'll get the fair cost according to market demand and supply, so you'll pay the lowest amount when prices drop, but you'll have to pay the full amount when the price goes up. When oil and gas prices are fluctuating wildly, it can be risky to go into the winter knowing you'll have to pay full market price since you may not be able to accurately predict your fuel budget.

Conserve Your Fuel

Another way to get more heat for your energy dollar is to make sure you don't waste any fuel. Add insulation to your home if it is needed. Seal leaks under doors and around windows to keep out chilly air. Let sun come through your windows during the day and close curtains at night to block cold temperatures. Have your heating system inspected and cleaned before the cold season begins. A system that's clean and functioning properly is less likely to waste fuel, and it will be more energy efficient. If you're not sure where to start in improving the energy efficiency of your home, have an energy audit done. This will pinpoint areas your home loses heat. You'll want to fix the problems before winter comes or you'll be burning more oil than you need, which is a waste of money.