By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — How much do you normally pay to heat your home? The mild winter is helping keep the bills lower than expected for many of us. But 3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan shares the secret of one woman who really got a deal, paying a penny a gallon for her home heating oil!

“It’s got to be a scam. This looks too good to be true,” said Harriet Laurin.

When Harriet first learned about a way to save money when buying her home heating oil she was skeptical to say the least.

“I’m not the world’s most brilliant person, but I’ll find a catch if it’s there,” said Laurin.

But try as she could, “I couldn’t find the catch,” said Laurin.

In fact her last oil delivery of 170 gallons cost one dollar and seventy cents!

“One cent per gallon and it would have been free except the system isn’t set up yet to give you oil entirely for free,” said Laurin.

So how’d she do it? By using a website called Neighbor Oil.

“The goal of Neighbor Oil is very simple. It’s to put the power into the consumers hands to be able to control how much they pay for home heating oil,” said Neighbor Oil CEO, Paul Harkins.

Neighbor Oil customers reduce the price they pay by cashing in points they earn.

“I’m up to a challenge and it is a little bit of a game,” said Laurin.

For example have a friend sign up, you each get 100 points.

“If you put an oil offer on your Facebook page you get 2 to 3 points. If you put a comment on the neighborhood wall you get 1 to 2 points. The other major way to earn points is by shopping with any one of our more than 3,000 partner retailers,” said Harkins.

“You also earn points for when you’re actually buying the oil. You earn a point for every gallon,” said Laurin.

When customers need oil they place an order online and Neighbor Oil arranges for the delivery using a company they’ve partnered with.

“We focus on buying in volume, because we have a lot of members,” said Harkins.

Neighbor Oil says their members are seeing a 32 % savings from what they paid last year. And Harriet is happy to spread the word.

“I actually have a few friends who said, ‘you know that sounds too good to be true I’m not going to join.’ I have a funny feeling when they see this interview they might be saying, ‘ooh I maybe should have listened,” said Laurin.

Customers don’t get to choose the local delivery company, and oil has to be ordered as you need it. You can’t arrange for an automatic delivery schedule.

But Neighbor Oil is free to use and doesn’t require any contracts and the points you earn never expire.


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