With domestic heating oil prices fluctuating by up to 20 per cent over a 12 month period, the Sussex-based Fuel Co-op wants to help Wealden residents to get a better deal for their heating fuel.
“Many Wealden residents in rural areas have no choice but to use heating oil for their central heating and because of this, the cost of staying warm in winter can be cruelly high – particularly if they are on a fixed income,” said Councillor Graham Wells, Cabinet member for Housing.
“Organising groups of buyers within a community is a great way of using bulk buying and reduced delivery costs to keep heating fuel bills down.
“We would encourage community groups and parish organisations to help promote the work of The Fuel Co-op among their own communities.”
The Fuel Co-op has already saved Lewes District members over £15,000.
It is now hoping that even bigger savings can be made for Wealden residents who join.
“The actual amount we save on an order varies considerably depending on number of orders and the seasonal price of oil,” explained founder and manager, Johnny Denis.
“The overall average saving per order stands at just under £60. We always save our members money.”
To extend its services to Wealden households, the Fuel Co-op is looking for community organisations and parish councils to encourage groups of local people to get involved.
Wealden’s Affordable Warmth Strategy 2011-2016 highlights the fact that 36 per cent of all rural households have no mains gas and rely on more expensive fuels such as fuel oil, electric storage and solid fuel to heat their homes.
Fuel poverty (where households have to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on keeping warm) is more prevalent among low income households in the countryside, affecting 44 per cent of poorer homes, compare to 26 per cent of the same income households in urban areas.
The Fuel Co-op publishes a list of monthly order dates to allow members to plan ahead for their fuel needs.
All the orders received by the monthly deadline are put together and quotes obtained from local oil suppliers.
The Fuel Co-op then negotiates for its combined order with all of its local suppliers until it gets the best price it can for its members.
The Fuel Co-op was started in 2011 in Glynde, Beddingham and Firle and, following early success, soon expanded to neighbouring villages and has saved members over £15,000 to date.
It is managed by Johnny Denis who has more than 25 year experience of working in the co-operative, voluntary and public sectors.
To support this local initiative, The Fuel Co-op’s Community Support Scheme offers 10% of local membership fees as a community dividend to organisations which actively promote the Co-op’s services in their area or village.
While standard membership of The Fuel Cooperative costs £25 a year, people on lower incomes pay just £15 and can spread their payment over the year.
You can join online on their web site: www.thefuel.coop To find out more contact Johnny Denis on firstname.lastname@example.org