As the winter weather begins to set in, rural households across the UK that depend on heating oil are being urged to make sure their central heating systems are ready to take the extra strain, with the elderly and vulnerable particularly at risk.
With many rural homes running on heating oil, The Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC), the trade body for the oil-fired heating industry, says householders should check their boilers are in good running order and their oil tank is sufficiently full to provide heating over the Christmas and New Year period. Typically, heating oil deliveries may be in short supply as demand increases.
Malcolm Farrow, of OFTEC, says, “It’s important that no one gets caught out this winter, especially older people and anyone more susceptible to the cold. According to Age UK, a much higher proportion of elderly people live in the countryside but, at the same time, they can often be forgotten and overlooked over the Christmas period. So we are urging people to check on their older neighbours and friends and to lend a hand if they need help to stay warm and well this winter.”
In contrast to recent headlines about rising energy prices, oil users have been benefiting from lower prices. The average cost per litre has fallen in the last 12 months and prices currently stand at a lower level than two years ago. Additionally, over the last five years rural households using oil have seen a 23% average increase in oil prices, which compares favourably to gas and electricity which have gone up by a substantial 58% and 40% respectively.
However, with the weather now turning much colder and demand for oil set to increase, prices are likely to edge up, so OFTEC is reminding people to check the level of their oil tanks and where necessary buy now while costs are lower.
Malcolm Farrow adds, “Energy prices are a key issue at the moment and we know many people are feeling the pinch in the run up to Christmas. That’s why we want to help oil customers save money by highlighting the current low price. By assessing your oil usage now and placing an order you may be able to save money while prices are low, as no-one can be sure how prices will stay at this level.”
OFTEC recommend the following five actions in order to prepare for winter:
- Ensure your boiler is serviced by an OFTEC registered technician to avoid any unforeseen breakdowns at the worst possible time
- Bleed your radiators to make sure you are getting maximum heat for your money
- Check the level of oil in your tank regularly and order refills in good time
- Check for a community oil buying group in your area who will often be able to secure a very competitive price and save you money
- If your boiler is more than ten years old, consider upgrading to a modern high efficiency boiler that can save you money in the long run.
More information is available from OFTEC’s website or by calling OFTEC on 0845 65 85 080.