The ten tips, from Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), include advice on looking after your oil tank, guarding against theft, dealing with suppliers and joining an oil buying club. See www.acre.org.uk for full details.
HWRCC says stocking up early has a range of benefits. Prices and demand tend to be lower in late summer and delivery is not disrupted by increased demand and icy weather.
ACRE Chief Executive Janice Banks said: Research shows 36% of homes in rural areas are off the gas grid, so many households rely on heating oil. In times of high demand, prices can increase rapidly, leaving the most vulnerable unable to afford to adequately heat their homes.
“We are urging households to buy their oil early so that they are prepared when the colder weather arrives and the time comes to switch on the heating.
One of the best ways to save money is to set up or join an oil buying group which can buy in bulk and negotiate the best price. Twenty-five members of the ACRE Network have set up oil-buying groups. Last year, they bought more than 13 million litres of oil between them, saving £650,000 on behalf of rural customers.
HWRCC, in partnership with East Riding of Yorkshire Council, is delivering the YORSwitch, Cheaper Oil Together Scheme that aims to save its members money through bulk-buying oil for residents and business in the region. The scheme has been extremely successful, with members saving on average 9p per litre on their heating oil, based against the highest price quoted per 500 litres at the time of order.
The national average consumption is currently considered to be 2800 litres of oil per year, so the average consumer purchasing through HWRCC's scheme could potentially save £252 per annum.
Peter Hirschfeld, Community Development Coordinator, who manages the scheme on behalf of HWRCC said: "It is especially important to get your oil order in early if you live in a remote, rural part of the county. Deliveries can get disrupted or delayed if a severe cold snap sets in. If you're struggling to pay for your fuel in advance, Hull and East Yorkshire Credit Union (HEYCU) can help."
Each year, ACRE joins forces with the Government and other organisations to spread the word that good advice is available to those households who depend on oil for their heating needs. The national Buy Early Campaign is due to start in earnest in early September.
Best Practice for Oil Buying Groups, produced by ACRE, Citizen's Advice and the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers, provides practical information to help communities set up oil-buying groups. See www.acre.org.uk.
For information on joining the YORSwitch Cheaper Heating Oil Together Scheme at a cost of £20 for the year, please telephone 01430 430904 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
HEATING OIL: SUMMER TOP 10 TIPS
- Check your stock of oil. Have you got any room for a summer top-up? However, do not fill your fuel tank completely full during hot weather. Fuel must have room to expand.
- Consider your future oil requirements now, and look to buy as much as possible during the summer months when prices are nearly always lower than in winter.
- If you want to check that you are dealing with a bona fide distributor who adheres to the FPS Code of Practice, then email or ring the FPS (Federation of Petroleum Suppliers) or use the Find Your Local Distributor facility on the FPS website, www.oilsave.org.uk, where you will also find advice about ordering oil and switching supplier.
- Consider joining the YORSwitch Cheaper Heating Oil Together scheme if you reside in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Buying together makes for more efficient oil deliveries and therefore lower prices.
- If you have difficulty in paying for your whole order in advance, look into cost-effective ways to help you to do this. Your local credit union, Hull and East Yorkshire Credit Union (HEYCU), can help.
- If you are struggling to pay for fuel, check that you are receiving all the help that you are entitled to. Your local Citizens Advice centre can help you with this.
- Check that your oil tank is as secure as possible against oil theft. Measures you can take include installing a tank lock, an alarm that goes off if fuel drains away quickly, CCTV and security lights. Further advice is available on www.oilsave.org.uk
- Make sure that your insurance policy covers your oil tank most home insurance policies do not include this in the standard cover. You need to be covered for loss of fuel through theft and oil spills, and the environmental clean-up of your property and any adjacent land in the event of a leak.
- Inspect your tank regularly and have it serviced annually by a qualified oil-fired heating engineer. For more information see www.oftec.org.uk.
- A key way to reduce your heating bills is to make sure that your home is highly energy efficient.