I would bet by now most of you have read the story about our president implementing the Cash for Clunkers plan by making billions of dollars available to the auto dealerships. I believe the goal has two parts, one being to help out the troubled big three auto manufacturers by increasing sales at the dealer level and to cut down on the gas consumed by the clunkers that are getting 12-18 miles per gallon. The financial driving force is the $3,500 - $4,500 allowance paid for the clunker, and this money is applied to a vehicle that most likely has a sticker price of $20,000 and up. A couple of problems that I heard about was it takes about four hours to close the sale due to the computer glitches and a mound of paperwork. Some dealers are getting so frustrated with the program they shut down the program on their own because they are concerned about getting the cash as promised. On a personal note, I think since the money is coming from the U.S. wage earners’ tax dollars, the vehicles sold should only be those that are manufactured by one of the big three here in the good old USA.
By now many of you are probably saying, “Charlie, what has this to do with the oil dealers, equipment salesman, or technician?? Well to start with, I think that our recently elected President Obama should do more to support our energy conservation efforts by offering cash for our heating clunkers as an incentive. After all, these units continue to burn wastefully more of our fuel supplies on an annual basis, and with the present and projected fuel oil prices, when would there be a better time than now to implement a plan?
We are all well aware that we are in the middle of a financial downturn and many of us who are involved with selling or installing heating equipment are experiencing the same type of difficulties as the car dealers. Cash for Oil Clunkers certainly would be a great way to stimulate every phase of our industry from manufacturing, wholesale and retail sales as well as reduce oil consumption.
As far as the requirements for the cash, it should be evaluated from an efficiency stand point, unlike the miles per gallon requirement as is the automobile requirement. I certainly don’t expect to get the dollar amounts mentioned earlier, but I’m sure with the help of the National Oil Heat Research Alliance and perhaps Brookhaven Laboratory creating the guidelines, a dollar amount could be established. I’m also aware there are federal and state programs in place for certain oil units already, but in my opinion the bar is set too high to really have a large enough effect on oil clunker replacements. Perhaps the day will come when members of the oil profession will ban together and head to Washington to lobby like the car dealers did. I would suggest that any unit—regardless of whether it be a oil boiler, furnace or water heater—if it is operating at or below 75 percent, it would become a candidate for the Cash for Oil Clunkers program.