HUNTINGTON - Home heating oil prices seem to be rising as fast as the temperatures are falling, and some Long Island homeowners are taking drastic steps to buck the trend.

Martin Melkonian, a professor of economics at Hofstra University, says the combination of higher demand and reduced short-term supply of home heating oil is jacking up prices. He says another possible reason for the increase is speculation in oil futures.

Some local homeowners, however, are not willing to take this lying down.

In an effort to slash his heating bill, Gary Bergman, of Huntington, decided to get an energy audit on his home. He also installed new high-efficiency windows and doors, replaced his old thermostat with a programmable one, added more insulation, closed heating vents in unused rooms and even switched to using only cold water in the washing machine.

Bergman says as a result of these relatively simple measures, his oil bill has been reduced by 15-20 percent a year.

"Even a difference of 3-4 degrees can make a lot of savings," he says.