News From OilFiredUp
Time To Top Up Your Tank, Says Consumer Focus
26th September 2012
Consumer champion, Consumer Focus is urging householders who use domestic heating oil to keep their bills under control and save money by buying now before prices increase during the winter.
The watchdog claims that leaving heating oil orders to the last minute during the winter risks longer delivery times and higher prices. In the severe weather experienced in November and December 2010 many of the oil distribution companies saw significant increases in orders, resulting in delivery backlogs, particularly in remote and rural areas where roads were disrupted by snow and ice.
Nearly one million households in England without gas heating face fuel poverty, meaning they need to spend over 10 per cent of their household income on energy to keep warm and meet other energy costs.
William Baker, Head of Fuel Poverty at Consumer Focus, which is joining forces with ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Citizens Advice Bureau and FPS (the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers to launch the 'Buy Oil Early' campaign, said, 'People living off the mains gas network often face considerable difficulty in keeping their homes warm. In recent years we have seen big spikes in the cost of heating oil during the winter months, which can have a major effect on household budgets. With this in mind, our message is buy oil as early as possible, and get a better deal by bulk buying with neighbours if possible. Consumers should also look to cut bills by making their home as energy efficient as they can and ensure they are claiming all of the benefits and grants they may be entitled to.'
John Hayes, Energy Minister, said, 'I welcome the campaign by consumer groups and industry to encourage heating oil consumers to stock up early this winter. Previous severe winters show that it is better to stock up before the cold weather sets in, when suppliers have spare delivery capacity. Ordering oil later risks longer delivery times, especially if cold weather increases demand and disrupts deliveries. I would also encourage all consumers to save money on heating their homes by ensuring their homes are fully insulated.'
Consumer Focus is also reminding people to make sure their home is as energy efficient as possible and to check if they are entitled to any grants or assistance to do this. Electricity suppliers are currently offering free energy efficiency measures such as loft or cavity insulation. The watchdog recommends consumers call their supplier as soon as possible to see what they could be entitled to.
Millions of pounds worth of help is also being left unclaimed under Warm Front, the Government's scheme to help the poorest households in England make their homes warmer and cut their energy bills3. Warm Front offers measures worth up to £6,000 for homes needing oil central heating and £3,500 for other households. These measures are free to most people who receive help from the scheme. People can find out if they can get free help from Warm Front by calling 0800 316 2805 or by visiting their local Citizens Advice Bureau or Age UK. Further information and an online application form are also available on www.direct.gov.uk