A recent study by Citizen’s Advice Scotland highlighted that homes in remote locations can pay twice as much to heat their homes using oil heating than those connected to mains gas.
Further to this, a lack of central heating is used as an indicator of deprivation and, commonly where there is no central heating, a coal fire is used as a single heat source.
Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Trading Standards team regulates how heating oil and coal are sold.
A high failure rate was found in oil tanker meters when they were tested nationally (10% failure rate UK wide). Coal scales also have a high failure rate (11% UK wide).
The Trading Standards team embarked on a project to test oil tanker meters and coal scales in Dumfries and Galloway.
There are 14 coal yards in Dumfries and Galloway and 27 domestic heating oil tankers, of these the team tested five scales and 13 tanker meters, spread across the region. One of the oil tanker meters failed, as did one of the coal scales.
When analysed, this causes a significant problem for householders: For a household with a coal fire as the sole source of heat it would be reasonable to assume that an average of one bag of coal per week may be consumed throughout the year. At current prices this would cost approximately £728. A single person on a basic state pension would receive just over £6000 annually and would therefore be in fuel poverty as the cost of coal would be more than 10% of their income. If each bag of coal was 10% short in weight then the degree of fuel poverty would increase as 5 additional bags of coal would be needed to provide the required level.