Starting an Oil Buying Club – the SeSaME story

bannerFor several years in the village of Sedgeberrow we have sought to improve our environment credentials through the Sedgeberrow Sustainable and Manageable Energy Group (SeSaME).  The group has initiated a number of ideas to improve energy efficiency and lower costs for households in the area.  Part of this was an oil buying club which we established in 2011.  Running the club involved quite a lot of paperwork and so we restricted membership to the village.  However, it was always clear that the oil club produced real benefits for the villagers who were members; lower prices, less hassle with orders and the knowledge that fewer tankers were using our local roads.

Read more Starting an Oil Buying Club – the SeSaME story

Heating Oil Clubs are ordering for Christmas

Heating Oil Tank

We may not be experincing the snow fall that America is but the recent drop in temperatures  is a timely reminder winter is fast approaching.  Experienced Oil Buying Club Managers know that November is the most important order of the year.  It’s the last opportunity for club members to fill up ahead of the Christmas period, with supplier schedules affected by depot closures during the seasonal break and January often being the start of colder weather and increased demand for oil.

The Met Office review of the month so far suggests Autumn has been warmer and wetter than normal.  Gas suppliers have ‘felt the heat’ with lower demand impacting profits.  Centrica – British Gas has reported demand down 21% amongst domestic users in the first 10 months of this year.

Amongst domestic oil users it’s more difficult to get a clear picture of demand but there is no doubt that a combination of lower usage and lower crude oil costs are helping ensure that heating oil prices remain at some of the lowest levels we have seen in years.  OFTEC, the trade association for the heating oil industry, reports that the cost of heating an average home with oil is now within 2% of Gas.  It’s likely that anyone using a local oil buying club scheme will more than cover that gap, with typical saving s of 5 – 10% versus buying direct.

There is a risk that the combination mild weather and low prices will make oil buyers complacent.  Our advice is fill up now; take advantage of the great prices available and order to fill your tank.  Our clubs are all reminding their members about the importance of the November order, effectively the last before Christmas.  The volume of orders means they can work with their suppliers to obtain the best value possible for their members.

If you want to join one of our clubs or want to find out more about Oil Buying Clubs you can find us at

Welcome to the Pebworth Oil Buying Club

Pebworth Oil Buying club
Pebworth Church

Pebworth Oil Buying Club

Located to the Vale of Evesham the Pebworth Oil Buying Club is one of the longest running clubs in the country. Run by Ken Wood it’s based in the beautiful village of Pebworth, between Evesham and Stratford on Avon.

With a membership approaching 200 the club will order nearly 300,000 litres of heating oil for it’s members this year. Everyone will benefit from the substantial savings made through group purchasing. It’s not just about price, Ken has worked hard with his suppliers to ensure the service members receive is second to none. Ken enjoys a strong relationship with all the local oil depots and has worked with a number of the depot managers for several years.

The club takes a particular interest in members who may need help and support with managing their heating oil needs. It’s evidence of the benefits that working as part of a community group can bring.  You can find out more about the club at their facebook page.

Ken has been a very active supporter of the system.  As the first club to go live Ken, his members and suppliers have helped improve key elements of the system.  Of real importance has been understanding how club members want access to the system to place the orders.  As a result of their feedback we have developed an innovative process to make ordering on mobile phones and tablets as simple as possible.

Ken helped introduce us to Vic Allison at Wychavon District Council.  More on our time with the local councillors in Wychavon District in a future post.


In the meantime if you are interested in joining Ken’s Group you can them on Facebook here



What’s good about an Oil Buying Club

Our reasons for starting the Oil Buying Club were simple; we wanted to help people lower the cost of heating oil and we wanted to support the dozens of Club Managers across the UK who ran community oil buying groups without the support of modern systems to help manage the admin.

I have been an oil user for several decades.  Before the days of the internet I used to phone round suppliers whenever I needed a delivery, the price could vary significantly so it was always worth the time and hassle.  Along came the internet and the rise of the on-line oil sites.  Although they were easier to use I still found that some work on the phones often resulted in a better price.

And the, 5 years ago, I found and joined a local Oil Buying Club, Merton Oil Buying Group.  I have never looked back  Our club manager, Steve, takes the hard work out of finding the best prices and the combination his research and the buying power a club order generates has meant the club prices are always significantly lower than I could achieve on my own often more than 10% less than the on-line sites.

The concept of Oil Buying Clubs has been highlighted by a number of leading consumer organisations, Citizens Advice and Money Saving Expert both explain the benefits of the club approach.

I think they tend to underestimate the benefits of the clubs.   Price is important and the savings made in transport buy working together to improve tanker usage is the most important factor in reducing heating oil costs for club members.  But are also environmental and social benefits. Fewer tankers means lower costs but it also give rise to lower CO2 emissions and fewer trucks on narrow rural roads.

Clubs provide those who are on restricted incomes with an opportunity to secure the best price for their oil.  Unlike other energy sources Oil users don’t have the protection of a regulated market.  I think this is generally a good thing, it encourages competition and most Oil Companies are very service orientated.  However, for those on fixed incomes or who find it difficult to go through the process of shopping around then oil clubs provide an excellent option.  Steve goes a step further and helps those who need support with managing their oil, he is not alone.  All the club managers I have met work hard to support those in their local community who need help.

However, running a club isn’t easy.  There’s a lot of admin involved in gathering orders, consolidating them and then sending them to Suppliers.

That’s where the journey for began; how to make clubs better for managers, members and suppliers.

We now have a system that’s being used by over a thousand consumers with more joining all the time.  It’s taken some time to develop but we are proud of the way it makes life better for everyone; ensuring the benefits of club buying can be shared by members. managers and suppliers.