Heating oil customers urged to buy early
by Claire McGine, Head of Communications

Heating oil users are being urged to save money by stocking up early before winter in a joint campaign backed by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England).

ACRE has joined forces with Citizens Advice and FPS (Federation of Petroleum Suppliers) for the Buy Oil Early Campaign, which is supported by Energy Minister Michael Fallon.

ACRE, the national umbrella body for England’s 38 rural community councils, says stocking up early has a range of benefits. Prices and demand tend to be lower in September and delivery is not disrupted by increased demand and icy weather.

ACRE Chief Executive Janice Banks said: “Research shows 36pc of homes in rural areas are off the gas grid, so many households rely on heating oil. In times of high demand, such as the cold snap of 2012/13, prices can increase rapidly, leaving the most vulnerable unable to afford to adequately heat their homes.

“We are urging households to buy their oil now 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 a group which can buy in bulk and negotiate the best price. More than 20 members of the ACRE Network have set up oil-buying groups. Last year, they bought more than seven million litres of oil between them, saving £385,000 on behalf of rural customers.”

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “I welcome the launch of this campaign. The message is simple: stock up on heating oil before the winter leaves you out in the cold.

“Previous severe winters show it’s better to order early when suppliers have spare delivery capacity.

“Delaying risks longer delivery times especially if cold weather increases demand and disrupts deliveries, particularly in remote and rural parts of the country.

“Consumers may also want to consider establishing or joining a community buying group.

“The new Code of Practice and Customer Charter by FPS (Federation of Petroleum Suppliers) is a welcome commitment from the industry to engage with consumers on a fair and consistent basis and implement best practice to raise standards.

“I would also encourage households to save money on heating by using the Government’s Green Deal, which offers a way to pay for energy efficiency measures such as condensing oil boilers and insulation through savings on their energy bills.

“Customers on a low income or in a hard-to-insulate property may be able get additional support through the Energy Company Obligation.”