Off the fence: Damian Hinds

Damian Hinds, MP for east Hampshire
Damian Hinds, MP for east Hampshire
Mo Farrah after missing out on a gold medal
				 Picture: Adam Davy

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Although we’ve been enjoying warm summer weather, it’s never too early to start thinking about how to heat your home as cheaply as possible this coming winter – and this is especially true for those living in rural areas.

More than 10,000 households in East Hampshire are off-grid, and will be responsible for providing their own fuel this winter.

Over half of the off-grid households in Britain use heating oil as their main fuel, but this can often be difficult to obtain in winter when there is increased demand and poor weather conditions can mean that it is difficult to transport fuel to consumers’ homes.

However, there are ways in which households can prepare themselves now. Buying oil before the weather gets colder can enable you to get it at a lower price due to lower demand.

Delivery times also tend to be quicker while demand is low and more mild weather conditions make delivery much more straight-forward.

It can also be a good idea to link up with neighbours to get the best deal, and this can be done by forming ‘oil clubs’. Oil clubs are usually formed of 20 people or more in the same rough geographic area who place domestic fuel orders and arrange deliveries at the same time as a group.

Buying in bulk can enable oil clubs to benefit from economies of scale and deliveries can be made to an area in one trip rather than several.

Statistics have shown that oil clubs can save up to 10 per cent on fuel prices.

However, it can often be difficult for individuals to assess the average price of heating oil at any one time if they are unfamiliar with following the day-to-day fluctuations in commodities prices. But there are websites that can help – boilerjuice.com shows the average price of heating oil and allows you to get quotes from different suppliers.

Ninety-seven per cent of off-grid households live in a location served by four or more heating oil suppliers, so it is worth taking the time to compare.