Northern Ireland consumers urged to bulk buy for savings on home heating oil
Home heating oil customers in Northern Ireland could reduce their bills by using a new online platform, it has been claimed.
Entrepreneur Barry Walls, who created PriceLayer.com, said the automated group buying site allows individual consumers to benefit from economies of scale derived from bulk buying.
It works by grouping individual orders together into batches of 10 to 20 so that oil can be purchased at a cheaper price from local suppliers, who save both time and money in the delivery process.
"According to government statistics, around 42% of households in Northern Ireland are in fuel poverty, which means they spend more than 10% of their household income on energy costs," Mr Walls said.
"It's important households reduce their energy expenditure, and Pricelayer.com will help them do so by offering the cheapest home heating oil prices in the market.
"It really is a simple concept."
When a customer orders oil on PriceLayer.com, that order will be added to others in their area. Every oil supplier with a delivery depot within 20 miles will be invited to bid to supply the entire bulk order and the lowest priced supplier wins.
"The price consumers pay is based on the best bulk price for 9,000 to 11,000 litres, which we estimate will save them up to 15% on the standard retail price," he said.
"With more than two-thirds of people in Northern Ireland currently using home heating oil, this is a significant innovation in how oil is purchased, with large savings to be enjoyed on an annual basis."
Another way to make savings is the Housing Executive's Oil Buying Clubs Scheme, which is managed by Bryson Energy and open to Housing Executive tenants, owner-occupiers, Housing Association tenants and private renters.
The scheme is free to join and members can save between £10 and £30 on their orders. The minimum order is 200 litres; this week it is approximately £70 to £75 through the oil club - to buy 200L elsewhere will cost around £95.
To help budget for oil, Bryson Energy encourages more people to join and keep their oil tanks topped up over the summer months before oil prices hike in the colder months when demand is higher.
The scheme enables people to help budget for oil by buying smaller orders more frequently, thus allowing the local community to reduce their energy bills by collectively buying their oil.
Bryson Energy contacts members each month to see if they wish to place an oil order, participating oil suppliers are contacted and the best price is negotiated for the bulk order and members are advised of price and estimated delivery dates.
Unlike other collective buying groups, Bryson Energy doesn't add a profit margin onto the price per litre so the oil club members get the full savings.
Meanwhile, oil-fuelled households are now paying over 40% less than they did four years ago, according to the latest data.