The international oil markets remain volatile, and analysts predict that the uncertainty will persist for many months to come. The underlying reasons for the market fluctuations have been examined at length by the media and business commentators, and the central issue remains weak demand coupled with over-production in many oil-exporting countries. The volatility naturally affects large corporations and their business operations, but it also filters down to consumers, who can find unpredictable domestic oil prices make it rather difficult to plan and budget for their requirements. As well as checking various sources for updates on prices and tips for controlling heating expenses, those concerned about coping with the coming winter months can consult the recently published government guide entitled “Keep Warm Keep Well”.

The publication is intended to provide guidance for the elderly and those who may struggle with heating costs during the cold weather. It takes the form of a series of detailed suggestions, including:

1. Check long-range forecasts so you can stay a step ahead of the weather and ensure you have sufficient provisions and fuel to carry you safely through for the most inclement days.

2. Try to enjoy a healthy and varied diet, including warming soups, stews and porridge, and stock up on cans, bottles and frozen food so that you are not compelled to leave home on icy or snowy days.

3. Stay active and take as much exercise as is safe and comfortable, even if this means just walking around the house every so often.

4. Dress appropriately, with plenty of layers and knitwear.

5. Make sure your home is properly insulated to retain heat. It is also imperative that you regularly have your heating equipment professionally checked for safety and efficiency.

6. Investigate whether you are eligible for help with heating costs. Senior citizens, for example, are entitled to an annual payment of £200 towards their winter fuel requirements, and those on low incomes may be able to claim cold weather payments. On receipt of these sums, it may be helpful to stock up on fuel in order to be sure of having an adequate supply and to avoid future price rises.

The guide is available online and contains a wealth of information and advice which, accompanied by updates and guidance from Value Oils, can ensure you and your family have a warm and safe winter irrespective of domestic oil prices.