ThinkingFuel: buying heating oil collectively – and helping the community at the same time

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ThinkingFuel is unique amongst collective oil buying schemes in the way it also helps support the work of the VCSE community across Norfolk.  

What makes ThinkingFuel special then? 

There’s another important function of ThinkingFuel. The income we receive from every litre of heating oil sold goes towards helping us support voluntary and community activities right across Norfolk. No other collective oil buying service does this in Norfolk. From April through to November last year, for example, here at CAN we supported 173 organisations with a range of funding advice, governance support, project management, and training.  

95% of those organisations and groups have said the service they received from us service was very good or excellent. 

What services does CAN offer? 

We are the first port of call for VCSE organisations needing support to achieve their goals, including 

  • finding funding  
  • running their organisation 
  • engaging with their community or clients 
  • strategic planning 
  • project management 
  • partnership and mediation 
  • peer support network 
  • training and development for trustees, managers, staff and volunteers 
  • Partnership services 

We also work closely with a range of strategic and delivery partners in tackling social isolation, loneliness, environmental impact, housing needs, and digital communication services. In particular, our well-established Good Neighbour Network was already well-placed to support the vulnerable in our communities as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. 

Working to ensure fair outcomes for all 

So at CAN we’re working hard to help and protect the interests of the most vulnerable in our communities. If you are able to refer or signpost any of your service users, clients or members to the benefits of buying their heating oil from ThinkingFuel, do please download the article here for use in your newsletters or magazines, and the poster also here.  We can send you a supply of A5 leaflets for distribution in your area of activity. 

Why is the price of heating oil not regulated?  

The Office of Fair Trading maintains that the wide choice of suppliers keeps the market price-competitive. Electricity and gas prices are closely monitored by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), a government department. Ofgem regulates the monopolistic companies which run the gas and electricity networks, taking decisions on price controls and enforcement, thereby acting in the interests of consumers and encouraging the industry to achieve environmental improvements. 

No such body exists for regulating oil prices. The domestic consumer has to buy in a free market, having to review the price per litre to try to find the best deal. Consumer advice groups recommend the collective buying approach – see here for example.   

Our ThinkingFuel scheme brings the power of collective purchasing to the consumer – and we welcome anyone, domestic or business, to join ThinkingFuel and benefit from the fair, reliable and trustworthy service we already provide to thousands of our members across Norfolk.