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“Buyers Up” Members Enjoy Warm Homes, Cold Cash

Jan. 4, 2002

“Buyers Up” Members Enjoy Warm Homes, Cold Cash

Heating Oil Collective Increases Consumer Power

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? As winter winds start to blow and the economy falters, maintaining a warm home should be the last thing people in the Washington, D.C. area should have to worry about. With Buyers Up, a heating oil cooperative, they won?t have to.

The federal government is predicting lower prices for home heating oil this winter than last, but heating oil prices are not falling as quickly as propane and natural gas prices, and political and economic times are uncertain. Buyers Up, an area consumer group that pools buying power to provide lower heating oil prices to its members, ensures that heating bills aren?t added to a homeowner?s list of woes.

Buyers Up was started in 1983 to help consumers combine resources and find the cheapest prices. It now acts as an agent for more than 4,000 members to negotiate with local oil suppliers. It is operated by Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971.

This winter, heating oil prices are expected to average $1.20 per gallon, costing a normal household more than $800 per winter. Prices vary throughout the winter, but Buyers Up members generally save 5 to 25 cents per gallon. That savings adds up to about $100 per year.

“Even with prices lower than last year, they?re still much higher than they were three years ago,” said Bill Wilson, who manages the program. “With the economy and political situation so tenuous, every savings helps.”

New members are given a supplier whom they call for their affordably priced oil. The Buyers Up office is always ready to answer any questions or concerns about the price of oil on a particular day.

“This gives members confidence that they are getting a good price, so they don?t have to shop around every time their tank is empty. They save time and money,” Wilson said.

In addition to the District, the program is offered in Alexandria and all or parts of Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties in Virginia, and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George?s counties in Maryland. Homeowners, schools, churches, businesses and non-profit associations can join the collective.

Regular membership is $20 annually, while seniors over 65 and students pay only $15. Individuals who are certified by state low-income energy assistance programs can enroll for free. Dues cover membership from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, but enrollment is accepted at any time.

To take advantage of the savings provided by Buyers Up, contact (202) 588-1000, (202) 588-7780 or 1-800-289-3787, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and ask for Buyers Up. Buyers Up is located at 1600 20th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009.