An innovative pilot scheme to help homeowners budget for oil fills is being tested in Northern Ireland.
The never seen before technology developed by local companies Kingspan Environmental and Carillion Energy Services will be installed on 20 oil tanks in homes in the Dungannon, Camlough and Newcastle area for a period of three months.
Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland paid a visit to the home of Tracey Doherty from Dungannon, where the technology is being tested. Speaking during the visit the Minister said: “Fuel choice in Northern Ireland has undoubtedly been a key factor in the fight against fuel poverty. Almost 70% of us rely on oil, in comparison to around 4% in England, the spiralling cost of oil has had a significant impact on many of us. This reliance becomes even more acute for those with limited budgets, where they face a decision to heat or eat.
“For those limited in their choice of fuel, this technology has the potential to offer a means to budget for spend on oil and a chance to avoid the high costs of emergency drums. Pay as you go systems for gas and electricity have been around for some time and it is very exciting that the world’s first pay as you go oil metering system has been produced here and will be piloted in Northern Ireland.
“I am very keen to see the results of this pilot and if successful, will be looking at the possibilities for incorporating this kind of innovation into future energy efficiency schemes. I’m delighted that Tracey has also recently had double glazing installed, part of an ongoing Executive initiative to double glaze all Housing Executive properties by 2015. This combination will hopefully help Tracey to realise a tangible change in her home’s energy efficiency.”
Jillian Ferris, Client and Stakeholder Director at Carillion Energy Services who has been involved in the project to develop and test the technology commented: “Carillion knows from working with nearly 50,000 homes locally just how difficult it is for oil users to buy the fuel they need, when they need it. We are used to paying for electricity and mobile phones on a pay as you go basis, so why not for home heating oil? Carillion decided to team up with Kingspan Environmental to find a pay as you go method that works for people in fuel poverty as well as for those householders who want more control over their energy usage.”
“Some of the people involved in the pilot are already telling us how the Home Display Unit is helping them to see what they are spending, to control how they use their heating and estimate their future need. The homes involved have been chosen so the technology can be tested by a range of people to ensure that our system meets the needs of all householders.”
The Department for Social Development will review the pilot results following a report from Carillion, including research on the views of the participants by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive research team. If successful, a Pay as You Go option for oil could be incorporated into future energy efficiency schemes delivered by the Department.
Local company Kingspan Environmental are the developers of the oil management technology and are delighted Northern Ireland will be used for the world-first trial.
Charles Burns, Kingspan Environmental Commercial Director said: “We are delighted that we can road test our Fuelserv solution in our own back yard and that people in Northern Ireland could be the first in the world to see the benefits.
“Buying the oil is a very simple process: you buy however much you want to use and FuelServ then releases this amount from your tank. All this is monitored by a small wall mounted unit inside your house, which will allow you to keep track how much you’ve spent and how much you’ve used. For the householder’s peace of mind, there are also a number of anti-theft alerts and alarms built into FuelServ, that we will also be testing.”