The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is scheduled to release its winter fuel outlook in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2010.While the EIA’s survey provides an overview for the country, it does not provide specific details of what’s happening in Vermont. For instance, the last EIA update in July suggested that oil would be over $3 a gallon heading into winter, which is not the case. The most recent survey from the Vermont Department of Public Service finds that fuel oil is averaging $2.70 a gallon, which on a BTU basis is price comparable to natural gas and wood pellets. Electric heat, on the other hand, costs nearly twice as much as oil heat, according to the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association.Oil heat consumers can save even more on winter heating costs, the VFDA states, by tuning up their heating systems now, as well as taking other simple steps to conserve energy. Today’s oil furnaces are highly efficient, but an annual tune-up keeps existing equipment functioning at top performance. Properly maintained boilers and furnaces can operate at higher temperatures while burning less fuel— which can reduce heating bills by up to 10 percent.“Tuning up heating systems before winter is a great way for consumers to lower their heating costs, conserve energy, and help the environment,” said VFDA Executive Director Matt Cota.Most Vermont homes – over 139,000 (56 percent) – are still heated with oil. Data from the Energy Information Administration show that heating oil inventories are 17 percent above their five -year average. The majority of Vermont’s heating oil comes from the United States and Canada.Source: VFDA vermontfuel.com.