Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Radiating happiness: Canny villagers who save a fortune on home heating

Warming to the idea: Roisin Marron, Deirdre Mullholland, Suzanne Scullion, Marion Maguire and Councillor Paul Maguire
Warming to the idea: Roisin Marron, Deirdre Mullholland, Suzanne Scullion, Marion Maguire and Councillor Paul Maguire

More than 100 thrifty villagers in a small parish have joined together in a novel scheme that means they pay significantly less for their home heating oil.

Believed to be the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, the initiative involves residents of Glenravel – just outside Ballymena in Co Antrim – buying their oil in bulk with their neighbours, meaning they can secure cheaper prices from suppliers.

And with savings of between three and six pence per litre, a standard delivery of 500l could save members up to £30 – which means a lot to the pensioners and young families who benefit.

So far, 111 households have signed up for the discounts.

The club was the brainchild of Glenravel and District Community and Residents Association.

The community group's Marian Maguire, who helps run the oil scheme, said she has been overwhelmed by the response.

"It was set up to help anyone who can't afford to heat their homes," she said.

"Young families and elderly people seemed to be hardest hit and they were being penalised because they couldn't afford to order a large amount. Now, they get their oil at the same time as someone (who is buying in bulk) and pay the same price per litre."

Start-up funding was provided by the Public Health Agency.

Chief executive of Ballymena Borough Council, Anne Donaghy, said: "I think the strength of this is that it is a community identifying their issues and the solutions, and I am very confident that this will be a scheme that will remain for many years because it is owned by and run by the community."

North Antrim DUP Assembly member Paul Frew hailed the initiative.

"This an absolutely fantastic idea and something that is badly needed," he said.

The scheme is to be rolled out to other north Antrim communities in the coming months with funding being made available to interested residents' groups.

Factfile

When households in the club require heating oil they text, email or ring a co-ordinator stating how much they need. There is a designated date each month by which time orders must be placed. On the day of delivery, the householder pays the supplier for their quantity. It means those who can't afford larger quantities are not penalised by paying 95p a litre for emergency drums compared to 65p per litre for those ordering 900 litres.

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