Mains gas is the cheapest way to heat a home but 23% of Scottish households rely on more expensive fuel types, such as bottled gas or electricity, to heat their property. Many off-gas households are located in rural areas and are vulnerable to fuel poverty owing to a number of additional factors, such as a greater prevalence of colder properties which are harder to treat with energy efficiency measures.
Both the Scottish and UK governments previously identified off-gas households as a particular priority for their fuel poverty strategies. This report presents independent research examining whether fuel poverty and energy efficiency schemes are, and have historically been, designed with consideration for meeting the specific needs of rural, off-gas consumers.
The report includes geographic mapping of the distribution of measures installed in rural areas and a review of the provision for rural, off-gas consumers within the design of past and present energy efficiency and fuel poverty schemes. The report also contains perspectives from both social housing tenants and their landlords, examining their experience of retrofitting and living in off-gas, rural properties where different types of heating systems have been installed.
The work was undertaken in attempt to further understand how best to target support to consumers in off-gas, rural areas and to ensure that specific groups of consumers are not suffering detriment, such as higher energy bills or unsuitable domestic heating systems, as a result of the decarbonisation agenda. It is hoped that lessons learned can be extrapolated to guide project delivery in other areas, for example, if regulation of energy efficiency standards in the private residential sector is introduced in Scotland.