Using new technology, Fuelwonk delivers the most complete fuel pricing database in North America.
These days, people take for granted that they can use the Internet to comparison-shop for everything from gasoline to groceries. Some products, however, have yet to enter the twenty-first century.
For homeowners, propane is the largest expense after a mortgage. Yet the propane market is still notoriously opaque. Consumers have a hard time comparing fuel vendors based on price and customer ratings, and are left to make big-ticket purchase decisions blindly.
Enter Fuelwonk.com, a website launched in 2015 as the only comprehensive directory of heating oil and propane vendors in North America. By using advanced software technology to collect publicly available pricing information and customer ratings, Fuelwonk makes it possible for consumers to comparison-shop for fuel with minimal effort.
In an imperfect market, the seller possesses more information about the price than the buyer. This puts the buyer at a disadvantage. “Our mission is to make the heating fuel market transparent,” says founder Bob Silverstein. “We want users to leave the website prepared to negotiate for better pricing deals when selecting their preferred vendor and make an immediate purchase.”
Silverstein, a 30-year veteran of Silicon Valley start-ups, remembers the cold winters of his childhood in Queens, New York. His father had trouble getting a decent price for home heating oil and used to dread the expense of keeping the fuel tank in the basement full.
Silverstein thought that this problem should not be difficult to solve.
Fuelwonk continuously adds data sources to improve the site’s utility. In 2017, it added the technology to automatically harvest pricing information from hundreds of vendor sites, a giant step in making the heating fuel market fairer to the consumer.
Now, thousands of people visit Fuelwonk each day. “We combine crowd-sourced prices from our devoted users with computer-harvested data to produce the most complete pricing database available today,” says Silverstein.
In their annual winter fuels outlook published in October 2017, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts as much as a 17% increase in the price of home heating oil. Consumers are feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks as winter settles in.
Before Fuelwonk began, gathering competitive pricing quotes was a slow and painful process. Silverstein hopes Fuelwonk will revolutionize how consumers shop for heating fuels – making it easier for people to stay warm and informed.