On 14 September, national charity Citizens Advice is launching a campaign at its annual conference to encourage people who rely on heating oil to heat their homes, to get the best deal possible.
The campaign is in partnership with Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Citizens Advice is urging households who rely on heating oil – usually in rural areas – to join an oil club, and to stock up in late summer or early autumn when prices tend to be lower, and when suppliers are better able to deliver more quickly.
According to DECC, two-thirds of heating oil is used between October and March. Avoiding ordering during peak periods means you can get a better deal from suppliers.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) says that around 3.6 million UK households are off-grid and 1.5 million UK households use heating oil as their primary source of heat. This makes it the most commonly used source of off-grid energy for heating homes.
Latest figures from DECC show that 5.5 million households across the UK are considered fuel poor (four million households in England). And in England, almost 30 per cent of people who do not have mains gas are living in fuel poverty.
Citizens Advice recently reported a 78 per cent increase in hits to its website this July, from people looking for advice on how to save money on their energy bills, compared with a year ago.
A dedicated web portal will be unveiled on Citizens Advice’s website – www.citizensadvice.org.uk/oilclubs where top tips for consumers, top tips for oil club coordinators and the Best Practice Guide, jointly produced by ACRE and Citizens Advice, can be found. There will also be a short animation, created by Torchbox, to raise awareness among people living off-grid on how they can get the best deal from oil suppliers to help reduce their heating bills.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice, said
“With the double hazard of another harsh winter predicted and the soaring cost of heating oil, we are concerned at the number of people we see who are anxious about staying warm through the freezing winter months, as many can't afford the high costs of heating bills. Citizens Advice wants everyone to get the best deal they can, and our evidence suggests that the best way of doing this for people living off-grid is to buy as early as possible, and join a collective purchase initiative like an oil club.”
Charles Hendry, Energy Minister, said:
“I welcome this campaign by consumer groups and industry to encourage heating oil consumers to stock up early this winter.
“The early snow last December shows that it is better to stock up before the winter, when suppliers have spare delivery capacity and prices are likely to be lower than when demand is higher.
“Clearly, leaving orders to the last minute risks longer delivery times, especially if cold weather increases demand and disrupts transport making deliveries difficult.”