Home heating oil price to increase 'adding £175 annually to bills'
Northern Ireland consumers are being told to brace themselves for increasing oil prices as the summer comes to an end.
The warning comes as the cost of home heating oil today hit a 12-month high after increasing from 24.6 pence per litre (ppl) to stand at 35.5ppl.
It follows a 40% spike in the price in the last six months alone and is enough to add a hefty £175 to average annual bills for householders in three-bedroom, semi-detached properties.
The bad news will come as a shock for hard-pressed consumers who were enjoying some respite from soaring fuel costs after oil prices hit their lowest point in eight years in February.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, price comparison website boss Michael Toner said the price tag on 900 litres had gone up by around £100 over the period.
"The price of filling up a tank with 900 litres had fallen to a little over £220, but the same amount has gone up to almost £320 today," he added.
"The biggest reason for price increases is the exchange rate with the US dollar.
"As oil is priced in US dollars - and the dollar has strengthened against sterling - the cost of oil for us has gone up.
"It's hard to predict at this stage which way it will go as if the pound starts to get stronger again it could reduce prices."
In December, the average cost for 900 litres of home heating oil was around £221, while 500 litres was being sold for as little as £126.
A straw poll of home heating oil companies by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday found that prices varied by almost £41.
At Belfast Heating Oil and Wise Oil, householders could get 900 litres for £284, whereas the same amount cost £325.08 at Star Fuels. The cost of 500 litres was £164 and £185.06 at each of these suppliers respectively.
Mr Toner, who runs cheapestoil.co.uk, said consumers could save money on home heating oil by having fewer deliveries per year.
He also advised paying by debit rather than credit card to avoid surcharges imposed by credit card companies.
The price of heating oil is still considered low and the current price is still cheaper than Phoenix Natural Gas.
Earlier this week, the Belfast Telegraph revealed US investors could be set to buy one of Northern Ireland's main oil terminals, prompting concerns over a rise the cost of petrol and heating oil.
In March this year, petrol prices rose for the first time since July 2015.