Belfast Telegraph

Home heating oil price rise: Buy now or face bigger bills later warn experts

 

By Claire McNeilly

Home heating oil users are being told to buy now or brace for bigger bills, as prices look likely to increase 'day by day'.

The warning comes as the cost of home heating oil shot up to 37.8 pence per litre (ppl) here yesterday.

In the middle of last month the price dropped to 35.4ppl, although this time last year, the price was just under 30ppl.

Industry experts have also said that stocking up in the summer can save households here up to £300 a year rather than paying more during seasonal hikes.

BoilerJuice boss Lee Cowles said that now is the time for consumers to secure the best deal ahead of the winter months.

"The cost per litre has dropped by 18% between August 2017 and December 2016, which is great news, but with oil prices beginning to creep back up, now is the time to lock in the best deal," he said.

Mr Cowles said that only one in five heating-oil homes here buy during the summer to save money, compared to one in four in England and Wales.

"Most households in Northern Ireland buy heating oil when they need it, typically as the weather gets colder and homes need more heating, but the best time to buy is usually during the summer," he said.

"Prices have typically been lowest in summer, so we advise the 430,000 oil-fuelled homes in Northern Ireland to buy in advance, when demand is low in summer and the price reflects that.

"As well as the weather, there are a number of factors that can affect home heating oil prices in Northern Ireland; these include crude oil prices and distribution and delivery costs.

"While no-one can predict the future, when demand is low in the summer you're far more likely to get your oil cheaper. Plus, unlike other utilities, consumers aren't tied into a contract, making it very easy to switch."

The average price per litre in Northern Ireland for kerosene 28, the most common heating oil used by UK households, was around 56p in December 2013, with 44p recorded in December 2014. Figures provided for the Belfast Telegraph also show that at the start of August it was around 37p per litre, offering shoppers a 18% saving by purchasing in the summer months.

Between July and August, the cost of 900 litres has increased by over £13, while it will now set you back more than £7 extra for 500 litres.

There are at least 430,000 heating oil households in Northern Ireland. Around 40,000 - more than 9% - are in Belfast and the surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, motorists are braced for a bumpy ride after fuel prices increased in July for the first time in three months after a late surge in the cost of oil.

RAC Fuel Watch data showed a litre of unleaded went up by nearly a penny; having begun July at 114.47p it rose to 115.17p, while diesel increased by a similar amount.

Northern Ireland enjoyed the smallest price rise, however, and finished the month as the cheapest region, with unleaded at around 114p per litre.

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