People who rely on electric heating almost twice as likely to live in fuel poverty, finds CAS

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 11 October 2018 in News

CAS report found that many of those who rely on electric heating are unable to afford to heat their homes sufficiently

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People who rely on electric heating are almost twice as likely to live in fuel poverty as the population of Scotland as a whole, according to new research from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

The CAS report found that many of those who rely on electric heating are unable to afford to heat their homes sufficiently.

Figures from 2016 suggest around 26 per cent of households in Scotland were living in fuel poverty, with the figure rising to 51 per cent for those who rely on electricity as their main source of heating.

Meanwhile, CAS warned that consumers are yet to see the impact of significant domestic energy price rises of 2017 and 2018, which were higher for electricity than gas.

CAS energy spokesperson Craig Salter said: “Electric heating is by far the most costly heating type in Scotland, yet many of the people who use it are those least able to afford it. So they are paying over the odds to heat their home.

“People are in this situation for a variety of reasons. In some cases electricity is the only source available, as gas supply pipes don’t reach their home. In other cases they are renting their home so have to accept whatever system the landlord has installed.

“The good news is that there are some excellent support services out there, but they are not reaching everyone who needs them. So we need to make sure that electricity users know they can access specialist support that is tailored to their needs.”

As well as the high unit costs of electricity, the report identified the “complex and often confusing tariff market, barriers to switching tariff or supplier, [and] a lack of knowledge of how to use heating systems effectively” as challenges facing consumers using electric systems.

CAS found that those using electric heating are more likely to have lower than average incomes, be economically inactive, and live in rented accommodation with little choice over their heating system.

Fabrice Leveque, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: "Citizens Advice Scotland is right to raise the alarm about households using inefficient electric heating systems.

"These homes should receive support to switch to more efficient forms of electric heating such as heat pumps. Not only would this reduce their energy bills, it would help cut their carbon emissions by up to two thirds.

"The UK and Scottish Governments should ensure that fuel poor households are given an opportunity to switch to cheaper and more effective electric heating as a matter of urgency." 

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