As summer drew to a close, commodity traders sent home heating oil futures past $1 a gallon, a price not seen since October 1990, as Iraqi forces occupied Kuwait in the buildup to the Gulf War.

Most financial pundits explained the higher prices by pointing out the lower supply of oil. Current inventories for heating oil are far below 1999 levels and many traders think it's too late to play catch up in time for winter.

Nationwide, heating oil stocks are down 39 percent from this time a year ago. In the Northeast, heating oil stocks are down to about 20 million barrels compared with about 45 million barrels a year ago, according to the American Petroleum Institute.