With the majority of households in Northern Ireland (68%) dependent on using home heating oil, there is a need to find ways to make oil more affordable. Over 40% of NIHE householders are reliant on oil and there are particular issues with some families going without heat, rationing it or getting into debt to buy it. The most competitive way to currently buy oil is to get a full tank of fuel at delivery stage. This requires an upfront payment of several hundred pounds which many householders struggle to find. Oil buying clubs are designed to help consumers to reduce their costs by purchasing their oil orders in bulk as part of a group. By combining orders, club members can negotiate a lower price per litre than by ordering alone. It makes it easier for householders to budget as these clubs can organise monthly deliveries facilitating smaller volumes per house. There is currently around 25 oil buying clubs already in existence in Northern Ireland and these operate in individual villages or streets.
The Housing Executive has an interest in making oil more affordable for its householders, but as Home Energy Conservation Authority, it also has an interest in reducing fuel poverty for all tenures. Oil clubs could attract members from all housing sectors.
The Housing Executive requires a third party organisation (private or voluntary sector) known as a Facilitator to set up and run a network of oil buying clubs throughout Northern Ireland.