Scottish House Condition Survey 2015: Key Findings

Includes updated fuel poverty rates, energy efficiency ratings, carbon emissions, Scottish Housing Quality Standard and disrepair.

Key Findings Summary

Energy Efficiency and Carbon Emissions

  • In 2015 37% of Scottish homes were in EPC band C or better and half had an energy efficiency rating of 65 or higher ( SAP 2012). This is similar to 2014.
  • In the last year the average energy efficiency rating of older properties (pre-1919), increased 3.2 points to reach 54.8. The share of electrically heated properties in band C or better increased 8 points to reach 25%.

Median Energy Efficiency Rating Relative to EPC Band, SAP 2009 and SAP 2012
Median Energy Efficiency Rating Relative to EPC Band, SAP 2009 and SAP 2012

  • Using SAP 2009 shows strong improvement in the energy efficiency profile of housing in the last five years. There was a 74% increase in the share of the most energy efficient dwellings (rated C or better) between 2010 and 2015.

Proportion of Scottish Homes by Grouped EPC Band, SAP 2009 and SAP 2012
Proportion of Scottish Homes by Grouped EPC Band, SAP 2009 and SAP 2012

  • The share of homes with lofts insulated to 100 mm or more was 92% in 2015 which is similar to 2014. This represents an increase of 10 percentage points on 2010 levels. Most improvement in the last year was recorded in the share of lofts with a high standard of insulation (300 mm or more). In 2015 32% of lofts were insulated to this standard, an increase of 5 percentage points from 2014.
  • Levels of wall insulation remained similar in the last year. While wall insulation measures continued to be delivered under energy efficiency programmes such as ECO, sample size limitations may mean these were not picked up by the SHCS. 11% of solid wall dwellings and 71% of cavity wall dwellings were insulated in 2015. In the last 5 years the share of insulated cavity wall dwellings has grown by 9 percentage points.
  • The proportion of dwellings with environmental impact ratings in band C or better in 2015 was 27%. The average rating was 58 which lies in band D.
  • Based on modelled energy use the average Scottish home is estimated to produce 7.3 tonnes of CO 2 per year. Carbon emissions for older properties (pre-1919) have decreased in the last year from 102 kg per square meter of floor area to 93 kg/m 2 in 2015, a reduction of nearly 10%.

Fuel Poverty and Heating Satisfaction

  • In 2015 fuel poverty declined by about 4 percentage points, equivalent to around 97,000 fewer households living in fuel poverty compared to 2014. 30.7% (or around 748,000) households were fuel poor and 8.3% (or 203,000 households) were living in extreme fuel poverty in 2015.

Proportion of Households in Fuel Poverty and Extreme Fuel Poverty, 2003/4 - 2015
Proportion of Households in Fuel Poverty and Extreme Fuel Poverty, 2003/4 – 2015

  • Just over half (2.3 percentage points) of the reduction in fuel poverty rates between 2014 and 2015 can be attributed to the drop in the price of domestic fuels over this period. Around a third (1.3 points) can be attributed to improvements in the energy efficiency performance of the housing stock and the rest (0.6 points) can be explained by higher household incomes.
  • Households using oil as the primary heating fuel have seen most improvement in fuel poverty levels in the last year, in large part due to the falling price of oil. Just over a quarter of them are now assessed as fuel poor (26%, down from 49% in 2014), which is comparable to the level of fuel poverty among those using mains gas (27%).
  • Similarly, rural households have gained disproportionately in the last year with fuel poverty levels falling 15 points to 35%. Rural fuel poverty is now close to the level of fuel poverty in urban areas (30% in 2015) and the difference between the two is no longer statistically significant.

Composition of Fuel Poor Households, 2015
Composition of Fuel Poor Households, 2015

  • Around 13% of fuel poor households are families with children, the rest being equally split between older households and other households without children. Almost 6 out of 10 are owner occupiers and two-thirds live in houses (67%).
  • Around half (52%) of fuel poor households have incomes above the poverty threshold, defined as £291 per week before housing costs for a couple without children.
  • Fuel poor households are more likely to report difficulties staying warm in winter. 27% of them say that their heating keeps them warm in winter "only sometimes" (20%) or "never" (8%) compared to 21% of all other households. 9% of fuel poor households report that they cannot afford to heat their home. This pattern is similar to 2014.
  • The extent to which home energy use is monitored by householders remains unchanged since last year with 57% stating they monitor their energy use "very" or "fairly closely". 8% report owning an energy monitoring device. Fuel poor households are no more likely to monitor their energy use or own a monitoring device. There has been no change on these measures in the last year.

Housing Quality

  • The level of disrepair remained unchanged in the last year. In 2015, 73% of all dwellings had some degree of disrepair, however minor. Disrepair to critical elements stood at 52%, 33% of dwellings had some instances of urgent disrepair, and in 8% of the housing stock some extensive disrepair was present.
  • Levels of damp and condensation remained similar to 2014 levels. Around 9 out of 10 properties were free from any damp or condensation, an improvement of around 3 percentage points since 2013.
  • Compliance with the tolerable standard in 2015 remained similar to 2014: 2% (or 42,000) of all dwellings fell below the tolerable standard. This represents an improvement of nearly 2 percentage points since 2012.
  • Across the stock as a whole, Scottish Housing Quality Standard ( SHQS) compliance remained similar to 2014 levels. In 2015, just under 44% (43.8%) of Scottish homes failed to meet the SHQS, compared to 47.5% in the previous year.
  • The SHQS failure rate in the social sector was 38%, not allowing for abeyances and exemptions. This has fallen from 60% in the last 5 years. 26% of properties did not meet the Energy Efficient criterion.
  • SHCS surveyors may not always be able to identify the presence of cavity wall insulation. The overall SHQS failure rate in the social sector would be 25% if it is assumed that all social dwellings have insulated cavity walls where this is technically feasible.
  • The majority of dwellings falling below the SHQS failed on a single criterion; this accounts for more than 8 out of 10 failures in the social sector.
  • For 7 out of 10 social homes which failed the SHQS this was due to falling short on a single one of the 55 elements making up the standard.
  • Overcrowding levels in Scotland remain unchanged: 3% of all households (70,000) were living in overcrowded accommodation in 2015.


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