More and more households in the UK rely on their own oil supplies to fuel their homes; an educated estimate suggests 2.5m properties do so, some through choice and the majority through necessity as they’re unconnected to a regular gas supply network.
There’s no denying that oil is an expensive commodity with global prices creeping ever upwards. This is scary enough at the petrol pump when filling up your car, but when you’re living in a rural area and reliant on heating oil to keep you warm through the long winter months.
As with all financial transactions, bulk buying provides economies of scale so it seems sensible that communities are clubbing together to use their collective bargaining power to pit oil companies against each other, challenging them to lower their prices and become their preferred supplier.
With roads that are tricky to navigate in a huge tanker, oil companies can attach premiums to rural deliveries escalating the price beyond reasonable and affordable levels. With full tankers guzzling fuel at 8 miles to the gallon, fewer deliveries mean lower costs, and consumer-cooperatives are seeing approximately 5-10% savings for members.
Following a pilot scheme in Oxfordshire, syndicates are now springing up across the UK, driving down the costs and benefiting local areas which will in turn creates a knock on effect for local businesses, as people increase their disposable income.
A village of 250 households will generally place an order for around 100,000 litres of fuel, which could collectively save them well over £3,000. Even with a small admin fee of around £20 to join the group that represents a significant reduction.
Schemes are open to anyone who can add to the influence of the group, which means high consumption community buildings, schools and churches are particularly important if they want to get the best price.
Cheap heating oil is just one of the benefits of this people power; managing your own domestic oil supplies can be a real time-sapper, especially if you shop around every time to find the most cost efficient supplier. And groups are less likely to have to worry about minimum orders, as more and more people join the buying circle, the average volume increases and prices plummet.
So residents are happy, communities are happy, environmentalists are happy and so are the heating oil suppliers. Everyone wins, and all it takes is a little organisation.