The Housing News get it: “Innovative oil scheme”

Our Pay as you go OIL scheme is making the news among the Social Housing network. The next serious buying season will be with us soon and before it we expect to be working with Social Housing Landlords right across the UK.

This is how it was reported in Housing News: “An innovative pilot scheme has been launched in West Oxfordshire to tackle fuel poverty and help residents manage their energy consumption.   The project is being driven by Cottsway Housing in partnership with Community Buying unLimited, an ethical, sustainable business based in Witney that specialises in community buying groups particularly for heating oil.” 

The scheme is underpinned by CBL fitting Smart Meters to the homes of the residents. It is this really smart piece of technology that creates the possibility for those really struggling to be able to afford to heat their homes.
Kate Clemmow, Cottsway’s Head of Asset Management, said: “While most residents like their oil heating systems, the big issue is affordability as they have to buy a minimum of 500 litres of oil from a supplier and pay for this upfront. As a way of addressing this, we have partnered with Community Buying unLimited who have launched a PayGo oil arrangement; an investor-led pot of money pays the upfront cost of oil to resident tanks, which they then repay.”   
Chris Pomfret, founder of Community Buying unLimited, said: “PayGo gives many vulnerable residents oil at a negotiated group price, with affordable payment options spread across the year. It also gives us the opportunity to educate them on how to manage their energy consumption.  Kate’s vision to work with us, means we have been able to harness the Smart Meter developments we have made at CBL, with our belief that we could use them to tackle oil fuel poverty.  This has been so successful that we intend to roll it out across the UK – something which the entire energy industry should watch with interest.”
The outcome has been extraordinary – it is all about the human stories. We have reported on Betty’s Story and then there is Leanne:
Cottsway resident Leanne Light (pictured), aged 19, was one of the first people to use the PayGo oil system.   “When I moved into my home in the spring I didn’t even think about the heating,” she said.   “I remember someone mentioning the oil tank at the end of the garden but when I turned on the heating nothing happened.  To keep my three year old boy warm I was lent a couple of electric heaters, but soon found I was having to top up my meter more and more frequently – it was averaging £50 each week.”  
As soon as Leanne began using PayGo oil she reduced her electricity spend by £30 per week.   “It’s fantastic – I finally feel that I’m in control of my energy use, I understand what I’m doing and saving money in the process,” she added.  
Cottsway ensured that all residents trialling the PayGo oil system received full training and were also shown how to access their account information online.   
There are a plethora of reasons why Social Housing Landlords will want to get involved, because it is a solution to so many challenges they face:
“Residents who monitor their oil usage are more informed about their energy consumption and we have already seen evidence of behaviour change leading to energy savings,” added Kate Clemmow.   “Most importantly they have peace of mind; by using PayGo Oil they can afford to heat their homes, reduce their bills as well as their carbon footprint, and have increased health and wellbeing as a result. We believe that is a truly sustainable development.”

The obvious next step is to roll this out across the UK. The potential to create positive outcomes is literally endless:

  • levels of those in OIL Fuel Poverty will fall dramatically
  • a section of society that has often been forgotten become more informed energy users – leading to energy saving behaviour change
  • this has a proven positive effect on health and well-being and the savings to the UK will far outweigh any costs of a large scale roll out
  • our socially-minded investors receive an amazing return on their money
  • the evidence we have already collected about putting smart meters into homes should be very useful to DECC if they are intelligent enough to listen

and the entire project proves that there is a different way of looking at everything and solutions are right there if you look hard enough. We have found a solution that both the supply market and the Government have never discovered for themselves.