Cost of living: The "fuel poor" are to be helped by the oil-buyer programme.


In Northern Ireland, half a million houses rely on oil for heating. The majority of its population—68%—lives in rural areas.


The government announced a payment of £100 last month to assist customers in adjusting to a significant rise in prices.


The Northern Ireland Oil Buying Network is one more method for oil consumers to reduce prices.


Weekly price reductions are negotiated by the programme on behalf of its participants with suppliers.


The Energy Advice Service of the NI Housing Executive (NIHE) oversees the network.


The NIHE's director of sustainable development, Robert Clements, said:


"The programme is available to all homeowners in Northern Ireland, including tenants of housing association and Housing Executive properties as well as people who own or rent their homes.


Peter Dunne has been a participant in the programme for two years. He is from Ballykelly in County Londonderry.


It's really practical, he remarked. They get in touch with you every two weeks or so, and you reply to request as many litres as you require.


In recent months, Mr Dunne claimed he had been saving an average of £27 for every 200 litres.


Does he think the procedure is complex?


"Without a doubt. Usually, I utilise text messages. It's as simple as buying yourself some oil "He claims.


It's free, and you can save money on something that is a necessity for the majority of us, Mr. Dunne continues.

According to Gemma Cowles of the Energy Advice Service, there are already 22 registered suppliers and around 6,800 members of the network.


The organisers create a registered supplier index daily to determine the best pricing.


Smaller purchases made more frequently may be more advantageous, she suggested.


The oil-buying programme is available to all customers, but it is specially designed to aid individuals who have financial difficulties.


"For the weak, we are here. The fuel-poor are who we serve "Ms Cowles remarked.