Heating oil syndicates
Rhodri Owen meets Jane Wakeham
Thrifty home owners in mid-Wales are cashing in on an innovative way to save money when heating their homes.
Llandewi Brefi’s oil syndicate has saved local people more than £25,000 over the last two and a half years.
Organiser Jane Wakeham runs the scheme and says together their bargaining power is immense, “Well I think on the last order that we put in, we managed to save 11 pence a litre, and that brought the saving for the village, just on that one order, up to £4,500 - which is quite outstanding.”
Seventy households have signed up but with 143,000 homes across Wales relying on heating oil, the idea could help so many more. Particularly considering over the last five years the cost of filling a typical tank has risen by over £500.
Jane says it’s really making a difference, “I think the average householder is saving approximately £150 a year, possibly more. Everybody is feeling the pinch at the moment so everybody is benefitting and it’s such a simple thing to do. We have a very, very good negotiator so it's a nice team thing.”
Close to ordering time, Jane puts posters up around the village and drops leaflets through doors to let everyone know. Each household can order as little or as much as they need and everyone gets it for the same price per litre.
Retired teacher Mary Pearce told us she has saved £700 since she joined, “We use a lot of energy for the size of the house that we've got, we need to look for as many ways as possible to save money.”
Farmer Ann Jones says it’s helped her dramatically because of the amount of oil she needs to run her business. But her big orders also help the syndicate to negotiate as low a price as possible.
She told X-Ray, “The syndicate is very important to us on the farm, we have a big farmhouse here that needs heating and three other let properties so on the heating side we do use a considerable amount of kerosene and it's really important that we get it at the best price.”
Just up the road in Tregaron, Postman David John is running another syndicate with almost 100 members.
Last year he ordered a total 110,000 litres for his community. He now asks them for an extra £1 every time he orders which he donates to charity. He waits until he’s received enough requests to reach between 3,000 and 4,000 litres and then he places his order, last time saving 6 pence per litre.
And a quarter of an hour north of Tregaron in Pontrhydfendigaid, Duncan Taylor runs their syndicate. This one was set up with the help of Communities First just six months ago, but already has over 20 members. So far they’ve placed three orders saving up to 10 pence a litre.
If you would like a go at starting an oil syndicate here are Jane Wakeham’s Top Tips for making it work:
Jane says, “Look around your community and find yourself a really good negotiator.” The better the negotiator the better the discount you will be able to achieve. Who’s got the skills in your village to be able to barter with the oil companies?
Jane told us, “Get as many people on board as you possibly can.” The more people you have in your syndicate the more oil you will want to order and therefore the better bargaining power you will have.
Jane advertises their syndicate in the local pub and shops and by posting leaflets through people’s doors. Could you do the same to let as many people know about you as possible and encourage even more to join? Do you have a village magazine or notice boards where you could stick posters? Can it be mentioned in the local paper or at your parish council meetings?
“Don’t get taken in by the big companies, our syndicate has been supplied by a small independent for the last six orders, so big names don’t necessarily mean big savings.” As Jane says, shop around – don’t jump for the first price you’re offered.