We all felt the squeeze of rising heating costs last year, and many of us are dreading the hefty bills from gas companies as the central heating kicks into gear once more.
Yet, for those who don’t use gas companies, the coming months could prove even more challenging.
This is the case for more than 60,000 people across Derbyshire, many of whom rely on alternative heating methods such as oil or solid fuels.
For plenty of us, though energy costs reached eye-watering levels last winter, we could at least take solace in the fact that price-caps were in place, that there was a limit to what we’d be asked to pay.
However, for those off the mains national gas grid, there are no such protections - meaning prices could climb to unsustainable heights.
That’s where Rural Action Derbyshire’s Community Oil Buying Service comes in.
Last year, we saved customers up to 77ppl on their oil by negotiating with suppliers, helping to tackle fuel poverty in rural areas.
And for those who still struggled to cover the bills, we launched a number of emergency measures, including distributing reserves of solid fuel and offering one-off payments to suppliers.
This support earned us national appreciation, with our oil-buying lead, Emma Simpson, taking home a prize in the Energy Crisis Recognition Awards this year.
But we’re not resting on our laurels.
This year, we’re expecting many similar challenges for off-gas households as colder days creep in, and we’re already making preparations for the coming months.
If you rely on alternative oil, please consider joining our award-winning service and working with us to drive down costs in rural areas.
And if you're on the gas grid but want to help those struggling with their bills, please consider donating to our Oil Bank or Rural Hardship Fund - every penny will go towards supporting the most vulnerable.
For more information, see ruralactionderbyshire.org.uk
Nick Archer, Rural Action Derbyshire, Guest Column, Buxton Advertiser, 5 October 2023