Why Property Managers/Owners Are Finding Verification Systems Useful in Preventing Oil Shorts

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorNew York–Building owners and property managers are looking carefully at their oil delivery companies and their heating oil bills, after a spate of reports recently of heating oil “shorts.” With oil being a major cost factor in operating a building, property managers are taking precautions by setting up verification systems, such as U.S. Energy Group’s Verifier Digital 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, according to the US Energy Group. However, some buildings use oil for the chillers for the AC system as well, making shorts a year-round problem. The most susceptible buildings are those that do not currently monitor their deliveries digitally and maintain accurate records.  This past month, two stories of delivery shorts have the industry buzzing once more. In Washington Heights, the superintendent in a six-story, 60-unit, 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 oil, when compared to the Verifier reading. He looked into it further and worked with a U.S. Energy Group 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 96-unit Westchester co-op with 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 oil, two of them were short by over 100 gallons. When the issue was resolved, the trucker agreed to use a verification system for billing in the future. 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, patterns based on the speed, specific trucks and seasonal differences can be identified. 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.