Advice: Struggling to meet the cost of heating oil?

Pat Hutchinson MBE.
Pat Hutchinson MBE.

By Pat Hutchinson MBE, District Manager, Newtownabbey CAB

Householders who use heating oil often struggle to cut their costs as they don’t have the same ability to shop around as those who are on grid. But there is action that you can take to cut costs and save money, without having to turn down the heating.

Stocking up on oil now, before temperatures start to drop, can help you to avoid the high costs of buying during the winter. The cost of oil is usually at its highest in December, January and February, as extra demand can push up the cost. Make sure you shop around for the best price and ask suppliers about flexible payment options if you struggle to pay the whole cost up front.

Joining an oil club is also a great way of saving money as you can often get a better price by clubbing together with others and buying in bulk. This will also cut down the number of trips the oil supplier needs to make, which could reduce delivery costs and is better for the environment.

Newtownabbey Borough Council has been working with a number of local community groups to set up community oil buying clubs. Everyone within the club pays the same price per litre regardless of the quantity of oil ordered and everyone benefits from the lower prices that can be negotiated by bulk buying. Club members are able to buy smaller quantities of oil at regular intervals.

In each club the householders register to join. The club sets its order deadline dates throughout the year and householders place their order by the deadline. Each club has a community co-ordinator who negotiates the best price from a range of suppliers and informs members of the price, supplier and the date of delivery. Each householder is responsible for paying the oil supplier directly by cash, oil stamps, debit or credit card.

Existing oil clubs in Newtownabbey include: Burnside (covering Burnside and Doagh) - 07598 814909, Ollardale - 07763 197216, Monkstown (operating within a 1.5 mile radius of the estate) - 07972 253335, and Ballyrobert (operating within a 1.5 mile radius of the village) - 07936 510083.

For information about setting up an oil club in the Newtownabbey area contact the council on 028 9034 0160 or email envhealth@newtownabbey.gov.uk

Meanwhile, Newtownabbey Borough Council runs an Oil Stamp Saving Scheme which helps householders who use heating oil to spread the cost of their oil and budget effectively.

The scheme works as follows: You can collect an oil stamp savings card from any of the participating stamp outlets and as soon as you receive the card, complete the name and address sections to help prevent fraud. You can purchase £5 oil saving stamps from participating outlets within the borough. The stamps are non-refundable.

Place your oil savings stamp onto your oil savings card in the spaces provided. Each card holds 40 stamps. The card can then be used for payment, or part-payment for your oil with participating suppliers.

Details of the scheme, and participating retail outlets/suppliers can be found on the council’s website - www.newtownabbey.gov.uk/oilstamp - or by calling 028 9034 0160.

People can also call in to the CAB for a benefit check and information about Energy Efficient Schemes which could help them reduce heating bills.

• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau or log on to www.adviceguide.org.uk

Call Newtownabbey CAB, Dunanney Centre, Rathcoole on 028 9085 2271 or email enewtownabbey@citizensadvice.co.uk