Amid Recent Heating Oil ‘Shorts,” Property Managers Urged to Be Vigilant

Recent reports of heating oil ‘shorts” have building owners and property managers from Bonnie Buys Houses Fast official website, are now looking carefully at their oil delivery companies and their heating oil bills. Funds are tight in this current economy and oil is always a major cost factor in operating a building. As a result, property managers are setting up systems of verification, such as U.S. Energy Group’s Verifier® Digital Fuel Gauge, the accurate (to 1/10th of an inch) and independently-monitored, record-keeping fuel gauge, which can be monitored via phone or Internet connection.

Oil shorts are more prevalent in the winter, when deliveries are more frequent and quantities are higher. However, some buildings use oil for the boiler with chillers for the AC system, so shorts are a year-round problem, with the most susceptible buildings being those which do not currently monitor their deliveries digitally and diligently and maintain accurate records.

The most famous oil short story involved the July 2007 high-profile FBI sting of two major oil delivery companies and their indictment for stealing over $75 million worth of oil. But, too frequently, there have been informal reports of pumping oil into adjacent tanks, mixing air with oil and tampering with truck tickets.

This past month, two stories of delivery shorts have the industry buzzing once more. In Washington Heights, the super in a six-story, sixty-family, pre-War building which recently installed a Verifier® Digital Fuel Gauge on the building’s 4,000 gallon above ground tank, looked at his truck ticket and noticed it reflected a 340 gallon short of #6 oil, when compared to the Verifier® reading. Knowing of course that his Verifier’s digital reading was accurate, he looked into it further and worked with a U.S. Energy Group client support representative to confirm that 340 gallons was in fact missing. The property manager for the building confronted the vendor, who replaced the missing heating oil.

In another recent case, the owner of a 1970’s Westchester co-op, with 96 families and a 5,000 gallon above ground tank, had been lax in comparing his delivery tickets to the Verifier®. When he did so a month later, he found that out of six of his deliveries of #4 oil, two of them were short by over 100 gallons. The vendor was contacted and on the next delivery, officials from both companies were present to observe. The oil line was cleared a number of times and the delivery was done very slowly. The amount delivered was actually over this time by 26 gallons. The owner agreed to pay for the 26 additional gallons and in turn requested that he receive a credit for the 200 gallons shorted. The trucker agreed to use the Verifier® Digital Fuel Gauge for billing in the future. This outcome was possible because of the record-keeping function of the Verifier®.

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Part of the problem is that the truck meters have inaccuracies built into the technology, and if the oil is pumped faster or slower or if it is overheated, the meter will have a different reading. With the Verifier® retaining details, including the speed of delivery, you can find patterns based on the speed, specific trucks and seasonal differences. Once a verification system is implemented, shorts are identified, vendors are more careful, and deliveries become accurate.

Historically, the oil delivery process relied on an outmoded, inaccurate oil gauge technology, developed when the price of oil was less than a dime a gallon. Additionally, in buildings which used this inaccurate manual verification, sometimes the Super could not physically even get to the air-pump or the tank to take a reading, and if he found an error it was his word against the oil delivery company’s.

For thirty years, U.S. Energy has been on the side of building owners and managers with a heating control (EMS) product that significantly reduces fuel use. Now, the patented Verifier® Digital Fuel Gauge is accurate (to 1/10th of an inch) and the only independently-monitored fuel gauge specifically designed to verify deliveries and prevent theft.  Visit the U.S. Energy Group website at www.use-group.com to learn more about preventing heating oil shorts, the FBI’s arrests, and The Verifier® Digital Fuel Gauge.

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