Council tackles fuel poverty

Ofgem is investigating complaints procedures of energy firms.
Ofgem is investigating complaints procedures of energy firms.

Almost a third of people in West Lothian experience fuel poverty, but home improvement works are slowly beginning to make a difference, West Lothian Council’s Executive has heard.

Fuel poverty affects 28 per cent of households in West Lothian. The national average is 31 per cent. Fuel poverty is defined by a household having to spend more than 10 per cent of its net income on fuel.

While improvements to heating systems have cut the number of households facing fuel poverty, the biggest problem remains the high costs of energy. From 2002/03 to 2015/16, average household energy costs increased by 170 per cent.

The council plans to renew 3500 gas boilers over a five-year programme. External wall insulation will be installed to over 600 homes. Homes in villages without gas supplies are being installed with solar PV panels, which can save household about £150 a year. Air source heat pumps and, in some areas, ground source heat pumps may also help cut heating costs.

The council is improving homes as part of the Scottish government-backed programme for energy efficiency. The most effective way for households to save would be the development of a council-owned Energy Supply Company (ESCo) or a “White Labelling” scheme, where the council partners an established scheme.