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Beat Chicago’s rising fuel costs by scheduling projects now

Chicago residents should expect area gas prices to continue to be among the highest in the country, says Joe Schwieterman, transportation expert at DePaul University and director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

“Our high sales taxes magnify the effect. We have close to a 10 percent sales tax so we’re stuck with the highest gas prices in the country,” he says.

According to Schwieterman, the forecast is well above $4 a gallon of gas for a good part of this year.

Ricardo Matias from highly rated Four Seasons Heating & Air Conditioning in Chicago says they’re prepared for the high costs of fuel. “We’re no strangers to high gas prices here,” he says. “It’s factored into how we budget.”

Others say they will limit their territory to cut down on travel expenses. Irma L. Mazariegos, co-owner of Noah’s Cleaning Services, Inc. says she won’t travel to the farther suburbs because they are spending so much on gas.

Art Mate, owner of highly rated Art the Fix-It Guy in Arlington Heights, Ill., says when gas prices increased in 2008 he restricted how far he would go for free estimates. Mate says he will probably limit his area again and also may start charging more to purchase materials.

Mate says he believes bigger businesses will be able to absorb some of the increased costs, but smaller companies, like his handyman service, might not be able to. According to Matias, Four Seasons has more than 100 service techs and installers and the company doesn’t anticipate making price changes.

“We have measures in place that smaller companies might not have,” he says. Some ways they keep costs low are through using new fuel-efficient service vehicles and limiting travel with on-call technicians who work from remote locations.

With gas prices predicted to peak during the summer, some companies may begin increasing prices or adding fuel surcharges right in the middle of the busy summer months. And as the demand for home improvement increases throughout the year, contractors will likely become less open to negotiating price.


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