Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sitting ducks and other bills

Today's walk with Jo was the seven mile circuit of Llysyfran dam. This time we went clockwise, just to ring the changes. The overnight rain cleared to leave a bright sunny day with a promising breath of spring in the air.

A nice place for a cup of coffee.
The landscape rang with the chimes of many and various bird life. Cormorants dried their washing in trees.

Drying in the sunshine.
The little rivers laughed on their merry journey into the reservoir to tickle the toes of the trout.

Happy little river.
Rafts of Canada geese, mallard and grebe honked, squeaked and quacked in a discordant avian orchestra.

Honk if you love geese.
Then, with the world put well and truly back to rights I returned home to find something red, large and dangerous occupying my driveway.

The oil delivery lorry.

I sneaked into the house and hid. The oil man left having retro-burgled the tank. I'm not sure which door he knocked on to hand over the bill but it wasn't the one I was expecting. Perhaps he was too embarrassed once he had written down all the numbers.

Eventually curiosity overcame me and I went in search of the bill.

I found it. Holy cow*.
The result of opening a heating oil bill in 2011.
Sixty pence a litre. Sixty pence! When records began - ie when we moved back here in 2002 and I started signing the cheques - we paid 17p per litre and a whole tankful cost £146.38.

Today's tankful was a teaspoonful short of £600.

The oil heats our radiators and our hot water. There is no alternative**.

We are sitting ducks.

I don't suggest our local supplier is profiteering. They do seem to offer a competitive price and there is a £57 discount if I pay this bill promptly (which I will). There is no competition for heating oil and - call it coincidence - but oil is always more expensive over the Christmas period and the price seems to shoot up as soon as there's a whiff of trouble in an oil-producing area - Egypt is the current reason for the price hike.

I turned off the heating. Then for good measure I turned off the water and the boiler. At the plug. If it's cold later we'll huddle round a spirit lamp. I think I've got a bottle of malt whisky somewhere to run it on..

* Where 'cow' rhymes with 'duck'.
** There are alternatives of course - solar panels, heat exchange pumps - but we don't have the capital for the initial set up cost.


  1. My brother and his wife run a Rayburn (which never seems to provde enough heat to cook with) and the central heating, both on oil. They also have a log burner for their living room and cook on calor gas.
    An elderly aunt of mine was worried about her oil bill three years ago - goodness knows how she manages now.
    I've noticed a lot of larger properties for sale in West Wales recently, all with oil or LPG heating. I'm not surprised!

  2. We have LPG and have seen it rise and rise in price - I think it is still slightly less than oil but a bill for £900 just before Christmas and one for just over £500 is horrific. Can't see it getting better either.

    We've turned the heating down a notch and have the woodburners going too. The Aga gobbles up gas and will be turned off asap.

    We've thought of alternatives and will perhaps go for a wood burning system - with what we've paid out this year we could have partly paid for it.

  3. The seriously unfair aspect of oil heating is that there is no regulatory body, as their is for electricity and gas.

    Do you remember the furore when VAT was put on gas and electricity - in the end the Government halved the VAT rise? Given the level of duty applied it would be perfectly possible to regulate oil at least to some extent - if oil was used more in urban areas I'm sure it would be done.

    See this article in Belfast Telegraph


  4. The title of the post quacked me up.

    The price of heating oil sounds "ducky" all right. Up about two and a half times what it was when you moved to your little farm. Ouch! No wonder they had to take you to the Emergency Department. How long will that tank of oil last you?

    Glad you've at least had a decent walk with Jo, took some nice pix, and that you've got Canada geese. It's a bit early for them here in the Colony (temperature at -34C).

  5. So glad to hear I am not the only one who hides in the house from the various lorries and vans....eek, what a horrendous shock, can completely relate to it as we are on oil fired central heating here too...but hopefully we will at some point change to electricity and get a wind turbine....

  6. Oh nooooo! We are desperately trying to make the trickle in our tank last. Only consolation is that if someone tries to steal it they'll find we've already raided it. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

  7. We use propane and if we don't use enough of it our company slaps a penalty on us for under usage, you can't win.

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  9. Aw, really sorry I missed the walk now. It turned out to be a beautiful day for you both.

    Gosh, on the 19th Jan we paid 52pence a litre. Mind you we have a double tank, I think if you bulk buy you can get it cheaper, (our total bill was a staggering £1,335). But I guess the recent Egypt situation has also had quite an effect. We tried wind power, but we don't have enough of it to make it viable. We applied for solar panels but we don't face quite the right way.

    Our Rayburn provides the cooking and heating (i.e. no central heating). And we use the log burner, luckily we are surrounded by trees so that source of fuel is free, bar the labour. We utilise jumpers and throws too. I actually find a centrally heated home too hot for me now. Funny what you get used to.

  10. Our central heating boiler died on Christmas morning (there's a present for us!) Since then we have been waddling about with 6 layers on the top halves. Long johns were deployed when it was very cold. We are living by the wood burner . . .

    I agree with you about the price of oil - blardy ridiculous.


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