Electric heating users ‘paying over the odds’ to stay warm

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Scots who use electric heating are paying three times as much as gas users, according to a new report from Citizens Advice Scotland.

It found that many in this group are on low incomes and unlikely to access the support that is available or to switch to cheaper fuel sources. Official figures show that 26.5 per cent of all Scots are in fuel poverty, but the figure among electricity users is 51 per cent.

The study, Hard Wired Problems, said that electric heating is “significantly” more common in Scotland than elsewhere in Great Britain, with around 11 per cent, or 282,000 households relying on it as their main source of heating.

CAS energy spokesman 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.”

The report said that people with electric heating were more likely to have lower than average incomes, live in rented housing and be either under 34 or over 65 years of age.

Mr Salter added: “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.”

Energy Action Scotland director Norman Kerr said: “Meeting climate change targets means that using low carbon electricity to heat homes will be a reality for a greater number of people in Scotland.

“Many of those customers will never realistically have access to a viable low carbon alternative.

“This report shows that there is a need for closer engagement to enable consumers to get a better deal from tariffs and payment methods that fit with their lifestyle.”

He added: “Where vulnerabilities act to create inequalities between consumers and the energy market, or when a vulnerability places a necessity for consumers to need extra energy to cope, we need to have a much more engaged and bespoke support service.

“This needs to be more than just a leaflet or pointing to a webpage, it needs to be advice face-to-face, sometimes in that person’s home.”

Research carried out by CAS in 2017 found that households using electric heating were twice as likely to say their heating was unaffordable as those using mains gas.