While the majority of people living in Scotland are able to heat their homes using mains gas, 24% of households rely on non-gas fuels for heating.
Those relying on unmetered fuels such as heating oil or LPG can face a range of challenges. Unmetered fuels are not currently regulated by Ofgem, and therefore consumers lack many of the regulatory protections that those relying on mains gas or electricity have. Where there is no access to mains gas, limited markets can restrict consumer choice and increase costs of the alternative fuels and tariffs on offer. In Scotland, 36% of those who are ‘off-gas’ are in fuel poverty.
Citizens Advice and the Consumer Futures Unit commissioned research with households using unmetered fuels as their primary source of heat. Living without Mains Gas assesses the outcomes of that research. Key findings include:
- Satisfaction is relatively high for those using unmetered fuels;
- Consumers expressed concerns around the unpredictability of prices, lack of payment methods, and difficulties around delivery;
- There was found to be a lack of consistency between suppliers on the provision of consumer protections and complaints procedures.
The report makes a range of recommendations for energy suppliers, trade associations and government.