I sent this to the OFT
My wife an I have just moved house to a newly renovated old cottage circa 1820's, and have spent a considerable sum £25k on the central heating system for the house as well as spending over £3k on insulation in the property. We have UFH, very efficent control systems, a thermal store which we heat via a wood burner and an oil system boiler (Grant Eco) and hope to install solar thermal at a later date. We're lucky in that we both have good jobs, but the price of fuel oil for many is crippling. So I have some comments.
We moved from another property in the village which is about half the size. This also had oil CH which we had installed around 6-7 years ago, as the property is smaller we installed a combi boiler (Worchester bosch) The first time I filled the tank I paid 18p/l I ordered oil yesterday and paid 61p/l !!! So that's an increase of over 300%
As the village has restricted access we are limited on what suppliers will deliver some will only deliver in a "Tiny Tanker" for which you'll pay at least 5p/l extra.
Short term fluctuations in pricing can be extreme. We filled our tank for the first time in November and paid 46p/l
Group Oil purchase schemes don't give that big a discount.
I have found that we are restricted on what suppliers will deliver to us due to access issues. But pricing does seems to be competitive between suppliers and it does help to shop around. It is easier to shop around by using the internet but this doesn't really help those not online or the elderly. There is no real differance in the services offered by each supplier. Although pricing is competative this is within very narrow price scales we're talking a few p per l
Levels of service from the two companies we have used over the years I have always found to be good, and I have never had an issue with supply. I placed an order Monday of this week and oil was delivered today (Wednesday).
We have considered putting an economy7 electric heating coil in our thermal store. This will probably cost around £300 if the price of oils stays at current levels we might consider this before next winter.
Off-Grid also means we suffer a penalty in that we can't get duel fuel tariffs so we pay more for our electricity.
As we're only been in the property since January we've don't really know what our consumption levels will be. But my first thoughts are we are consuming about the same as we did in our old property, which is good as our new house is over double the size. This is due to the amount of insulation we have installed, more efficient boiler and the use of the wood burner. 1000/l should last us around 10-12 months meaning we will have spent over £600 just for heating and hot water. This would be a horrendous sum for an OAP on a small income who requires more heat than we do.
Although we have a very efficient wood burner the cost of seasoned hard wood logs is also expensive. Unless you scavenge for wood it is expensive to use wood for heating.
The infrastructure costs of oil are far greater than for gas. Oil boilers cost more to buy, to install to service and to repair, you also have the added cost of the tank.
Planning issues STILL surround alternative fuel sources. We would like solar thermal and maybe PV as our house is south facing and gets plenty of sun. But as we're in a conservation area we would need to get planning permission which can be problematic. This should be addressed by central government urgently.
Building regs should also be amended to require the installation of PV or solar thermal on all suitable new builds (ie have a favourable facing roof elevation)
I paid over £30 in VAT on my oil order a reduction in the VAT levels for off-grid energy should be considered.