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Different Rules for Different Fuels: Exploring Consumer Protection in the District Heating Market

Different Rules for Different Fuels examines consumer and supplier experience of district heating in Scotland in relation to consumer protection, and what consumer protection measures could be implemented in Scotland. The CFU is calling for greater protection for consumers in Scotland who use district heating schemes, based on research carried out by Changeworks and the Centre for Sustainable Energy on behalf of the CFU. 

District and communal heating has the potential to play a positive role in tackling fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions. However, it is not currently regulated and consumers do not benefit from the same level of consumer protection as those who rely on gas or electricity to heat their homes.

The key findings of the report include:

  • There is a clear need for greater consumer protection measures for district heat consumers in Scotland.
  • The Scottish Government could introduce statutory consumer protection measures through a license for the supply of district heat. These include measures around billing, metering, standards of service, access to redress and pricing.
  • There was wide support – from both suppliers and other stakeholders – for greater consumer protection measures, including regulation. 

The report recommends that the Scottish Government consider:

  • Establishing a Scotland-wide body with responsibility for the regulation of the district heating market.
  • Providing support for suppliers to ensure they are able to meet regulatory standards and consumer expectations.
  • Investigating what mechanisms are available to introduce price controls for district heating systems.
  • Introducing a statutory license for district heating suppliers. The license should include compulsory consumer protection measures as well as minimum technical standards to ensure efficient operation.


Craig Salter
Publication date
May 2017
Publication type
Consumer Futures Unit