Domestic solid fuel combustion remains a key contributor to indoor and ambient air pollution in low-income settlements. Understanding solid-fuel cost perceptions and burning patterns variability is required for developing sustainable energy policies and applicable site-specific intervention strategies to effectively improve ambient air quality. The purpose of the study was to understand domestic solid fuel use dynamics and trends in KwaDela, a low-income residential area in Mpumalanga. Data were gathered using surveys, questionnaires, observations, and temperature sensors. Findings were that there are two main local sources of wood and coal within the settlement and each household was estimated to consume 1 800 to 2 992.5 kg of coal annually. The maximum amount of coal used per burning event was 9.3 kg, with an average of 4 kg and a standard deviation of ±2.5 kg. Coal and wood purchase price varied depending on their sources, but were cheaper than electricity. In winter, the burning events are longer (four to six hours) than in summer and more (one to three) per day, and start earlier (from 03:00 and 15:30) mainly due to space-heating needs. Cooking, space-heating and boiling water are the major household needs that drive the use of solid fuels in electrified low-income residential areas. The key to improving air quality in such areas is integrating fuel use intervention methods that the residents can afford and are readily accessible.HighlightsBurning events are longer in winter than summer.Solid fuels are affordable, available, and easily accessible.Electricity remains sparsely used for domestic purposes.