Students troubled by heating costs

by Beacon Staff • February 15, 2006

Senior marketing communication major Matthew Myers, who lives in an apartment and splits his heat bill with four other people, has seen a 250 percent increase in his bill since September.,The cost of keeping an apartment warm during a long Boston winter has risen with the price of gas this year, frustrating many off-campus students.

Senior marketing communication major Matthew Myers, who lives in an apartment and splits his heat bill with four other people, has seen a 250 percent increase in his bill since September.

Myers said that his one-fifth portion of the bill is normally $20, but last month he paid more than $50. Myers said it was a major change since last year, when he lived on campus and was not required to pay for heat.

Matty Bigelow, secretary of Bigelow Oil located in Newton, said that the price of the company's oil has risen over the past year, going from $2.19 per gallon in 2005 to $2.59 per gallon in 2006.

AC Fuel Oil Company of South Boston has current rates of $2.39, according to NewEnglandOil.com.

Some off-campus students interviewed said they are not troubled by fuel prices.

Junior film major Adam Burnette said he hasn't noticed the rising cost of gas and oil because heat is included in his monthly rent, so he is never sure how much his landlord pays for oil.

For students whose heat is not built into monthly rent, there are ways to save on heating bills, according to Christy Letizia, coordinator of Off Campus Student Services.

"A lot of heating companies can work payment plans with people to help them pay the larger amounts over a longer period of time," Letizia said.

Letizia noted that the city of Boston also offers programs to help students pay heating costs, such as LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program),which helps residents apply for fuel payment assistance.

Letizia also offered advice on how to keep bills as low as possible. She recommends using an electric thermostat to regulate temperatures when the heat is on.

Christina Ayube, vice president of Ford Realty, said that the rise in gas prices has affected the choices tenants are making when selecting heating options.

"Years ago, it used to be that you didn't want to rent an apartment that had electric heat," Ayube said. "Nowadays, people are fighting to get apartments with electric heat."

John Cleary, a junior writing, literature and publishing major, lives in a single studio apartment near Boston University. Cleary controls his electric heat with a thermostat.

"I haven't seen a huge rise in my electricity costs," Cleary said. "Mostly it's because my room is so small, but I haven't had any problems with it."

Ayube, whose office is located on Tremont Street, said the rising costs are a product of oil companies taking advantage of the market.

"Between the war and the hurricane, they saw the option to raise the prices," Ayube said. "There's really no reason for them to."