Following the recent House of Commons debate on oil heating buying groups, oil distribution trade association FPS (Federation of Petroleum Suppliers) welcomes the recognition the Government is placing on off grid energy and has written to MPs and Energy Minister Amber Rudd to open further discussions between the Government and the industry on the subject of oil heating and oil buying groups for the 1.5m off grid, mainly rural, homes across the UK.
Combatting fuel poverty and cutting CO2 emissions is high on the Government agenda so the FPS is urging the Government to offer additional help to off grid energy customers including offering incentives to replace an estimated 900,000 old oil boilers with condensing boilers which would save every customer at least 20% off their fuel bills and reduce CO2 emissions at the same time.
As fuel poverty is disproportionately high in the off grid sector, savings in the region of 20% would go a long way to helping address fuel poverty for those unable to afford the upgrade to more efficient condensing boilers.
Oil heating is currently the cheapest form of energy for off grid homes with the average cost to heat a 3-bedroom home in Great Britain using an oil condensing boiler £793 per annum compared to £1548 for an LPG condensing boiler and £1600 per annum if you use electricity to heat your home. Furthermore oil heating is also cheaper than mains gas which comes out at £1038 per year so any additional help say the FPS will help off grid householders even more.
With some MPs promoting oil buying groups as a way to cut costs when purchasing oil heating the FPS is also keen to highlight the pros and cons of purchasing oil in this way and is asking MPs, the Government and the 1.5m off grid householders to examine all ways of purchasing oil before making a decision as some consumers are finding that using buying groups is not always a benefit when it comes to purchasing oil.
Chief Executive of the FPS, Mark Askew comments: “Small, local buying groups in an immediate neighbourhood can benefit from the saving the distributor makes on travel time and costs. However, groups should be realistic about the level of savings to be made. Consumers get a pretty good deal and, with low margins, there is very little leeway to give them price reductions and still remain viable! Many claims of huge savings are actually comparing the highest quotes – possibly artificially high from a distributor who doesn’t want the business – with the lowest quote, as some of these high prices are just not feasible.
An individual consumer could do just as well buying alone in many cases and would also build a closer relationship with their supplier. Many larger buying groups find in bad weather, when supply and resources are tight, distributors naturally give priority to their individual, regular customers rather than the large buying groups who shop around. They do not want to tie up vehicles and drivers delivering to a large group and leave no time for their other customers.
It does not take long to ring round two or three distributors and get quotes yourself. And you then know which company you’re speaking to, have a quote for your own circumstances and can arrange a delivery time to suit. If consumers want to check that they are dealing with a bona fide distributor who adheres to the FPS Code of Practice, they can ring or email the FPS or use the ‘Find Your Local Distributor’ facility on our website – www.oilsave.org.uk, where you will also find advice about ordering oil.”
The FPS represents over 80% of oil distribution companies in Great Britain who make 5.5m deliveries of domestic heating oil each year and has produced best practice guidance for large and small buying groups and is urging consumers to look at these free guides before joining a buying group to ensure that they are getting the best deal.
A copy of the Best Practice guide to Oil Buying Groups is available on the FPS’ Oilsave website www.oilsave.org.uk