Heating oil hike hits customers

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homeownerS across West Suffolk are feeling the squeeze after a huge rise in the price of heating oil.

Phil Ayres, 64, has used heating oil to warm his home in Whepstead for the 15 years. He has a 600 gallon tank and usually stocks up during the summer – but this year he did not. He was shocked last week to find that the price of oil had doubled since his last purchase, when he paid 35.50p per litre.

This week Suffolk County Fuels Ltd, in Great Finborough, quoted 74.95p per litre for a delivery from January 3 and Total Butler, in Newmarket Road, Bury St Edmunds, quoted 78.05p per litre for a delivery by January 4.

Mr Ayres said: “They say it’s to do with a hike in oil prices but that’s not true. A 50 per cent increase in three months is ridiculous.

“Imagine in three months having to pay half as much again, that would leave some people in extreme hardship.”

Audrey Gallacher, head of energy at Consumer Focus, said: “The price of crude oil has risen far less than the cost of heating oil, calling into question why suppliers are charging so much more.

“In the face of higher prices, people should shop around for better prices and take advantage of energy efficiency grants to cut the amount of fuel they need to use to keep warm.”

Of around 6,000 homes in Havebury Housing Partnership’s stock, 780 of them rely on heating oil. It is currently piloting different heat sources in an effort to find a cheaper, more efficient one to use in the future.

Martin Caddick, of Suffolk County Fuels, said: “Supply and demand, severe weather conditions and fear of shortages are all factors that tend to drive up oil prices.

“In addition, there are significant costs involved in exporting and refining crude oil. Therefore the price of oil is often determined before it gets to Suffolk County Fuels.

“As a responsible supplier, we anticipate these peaks in colder weather. To this end, we write to our customers in autumn to encourage them to purchase their oil early.”