Domestic electric heat options in Scotland ‘must improve’, report shows

The move away from fossil fuels being used to heat homes will be hampered without significant improvements to electric heating options, a consumer organisation has warned.

Only half of households off the gas grid are satisfied with their heating systems, compared with 84 per cent of households who have a mains gas connection. Picture: Pxhere

A report commissioned by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) on consumer attitudes to energy networks in Scotland has found that only half of households off the gas grid are satisfied with their heating systems, compared with 84 per cent of households who have a mains gas connection.

The study also found that 85 per cent of households with mains gas central heating are fairly or extremely satisfied with their heating system, compared with just 42 per cent for those with electric storage heating, a “satisfaction gap” of 43 per cent.

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CAS fair markets spokesman Dr Jamie Stewart said: “The issue of the climate emergency has made it to the top of the political agenda and that’s a welcome step forward but policymakers need to be honest about the challenges this represents.

“The electrification of heat is being proposed by many as a key step in the move away from using dirtier fossil fuels to keep our homes warm. And while the idea is sound, this research highlights the dissatisfaction many electric-only households currently have with their heating systems.

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That needs to change if we are to see more homes heated with electricity.”

He added: “As conversations on decarbonising energy use begins in the corridors of government, politicians and civil servants must take into consideration consumer satisfaction when creating energy policy.

“They must acknowledge that people will not switch from gas to electricity without reduced costs and substantial improvements to electric heating options.”

People who have electric storage heaters said they were least satisfied with their heating, meanwhile, only 56 per cent of those with plug-in electric fires or heaters said they were happy.

After gas heating, those with solid fuel-open grate, enclosed grate/stove or heat pump systems were most content, with 79 per cent of people with those heating systems saying they were satisfied.

CAS has released the figures as both the UK and Scottish governments, as well as increasing numbers of big businesses, have committed to reducing emissions.

According to the Scottish Government’s Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions report, published this year, residential emissions decreased between 2016 and 2017 by 4.3 per cent, with a decrease of 24.4 per cent between 1990 and 2017.

The report said this long-term decrease is mainly due to a switch from less efficient solid and liquid fuels to natural gas for heating. Legislation is going through the Scottish Parliament to set tougher targets for greenhouse gas emissions with a “net-zero” date being set for 2045.

Net-zero is the point at which our emissions are equal to the amount of greenhouse gases being offset through techniques such as tree planting.

The Climate Change (Scotland) Bill sets targets based purely on “source emissions” which ministers say will better reflect the progress on decarbonising.