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Comparative Heating Schedule 18 September 2008

The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading has revised its Comparative Heating Schedule to make it easier for consumers to use and has increased the amount of information it contains. It has also increased the frequency of issue from once to twice a month. For the first time the Schedule publishes individual company’s prices for central heating oil and solid fuel. Previously average figures were published. The Office is keen to encourage all consumers to ‘shop around’ where possible to ensure they are getting the best deal.

The Schedule which has been produced for a number of years compares the costs of the various domestic heating fuels. This allows consumers to identify the most economical forms of heating for their homes.

Information is collected directly from the local fuel suppliers. Fuels covered are solid fuel, electricity, gas and domestic heating oil. Costs are shown per useful kilowatt hour and take into account the average thermal efficiencies for heating systems. For example house coal burning in an open fire with a back boiler is less thermally efficient than burning anthracite in a room heater with a back boiler as more heat is lost up the chimney – the house coal is therefore shown on the schedule as being much more expensive than the anthracite per useful KWH.

Chief Officer of the OFT, Nick Black, commenting on the revised Schedule, said: “The Office is very keen to help consumers make informed decisions when choosing what fuel to use and who to purchase from. In sectors where a choice of suppliers exist the Office wants to promote competition between suppliers as a competitive environment will benefit the consumer. The Schedule allows people to compare suppliers’ prices within fuel groups and to compare the cost of different fuels without them having to convert each type in kilowatt hours. The new format includes notes on interpreting the information, is easy to understand and will make it much easier for consumers to compare prices. People should be aware though that the prices shown do not include costs such as standing charges, neither do they include discounts for prompt payment which some companies offer and which can be considerable. Consumers should use the schedule as a guide before checking any additional costs with or asking for discounts offered by the suppliers.”

Copies of the Schedule can be obtained from the OFT, Lord Street Douglas, telephone 686500 or from its website www.gov.im/oft.

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