The new Heat and Buildings Strategy – and what it means for you
The government has just announced plans to massively cut emissions from UK households, with a stronger push towards net zero and decarbonisation. And if you’re wondering what all this means for you and your home, we’ve got you covered.
In this article we’ll outline the UK Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy, how it might affect you and what your options are when the time finally comes to switch. And don’t worry – you’ve got plenty of time before the changes affect you.
A brief outline of the plans
The government has revealed a Ten Point Plan on moving UK households currently using natural gas (and that’s most of us) over to low-carbon heating. And make no mistake; it’s a huge undertaking. To put that in context, around 85% of the UK currently uses traditional gas boilers to heat our homes.
A key challenge to meet their net zero by 2050 target will be how to improve the EPC (or energy efficiency) rating of millions of UK homes. It’s going to be a big job, and we don’t have much in the way of specifics yet. What we do have is a target date of 2035. After that, you’ll no longer be able to buy a new boiler that runs on fossil fuels. And that’s where the other key takeaway comes in: heat pumps will be far more affordable going forward – but more on that in a moment.
What this means for you
Now, a quick word of reassurance. You definitely won’t be forced to scrap your current boiler and fork out for an expensive new system anytime soon. The government know the financial challenges that come with these proposals, and they’ll want to incentivise homes to make the switch with grants and subsidies when the time is right. So there’ll be plenty of time ahead to decide what works for you and your home.
What it does mean, is that – from 2035 onwards – instead of being able to choose a dedicated gas-burning boiler, there’ll be other options available to heat your home instead. And should your heating system break down between now and then, you’ll be financially rewarded for choosing a low-carbon option – and not just a like-for-like replacement. So it’s definitely worth considering.
And here’s some more good news…
More investment in renewables will drive down the cost of heat pumps and other low-carbon technologies, so they’ll be more affordable in the future. In fact, the government have specifically outlined their intention to make heat pumps as cost effective as a traditional boiler to buy and run each month.
And let’s not forget, the plans will have great benefits for the UK in other ways, too. By seriously cutting our carbon emissions across the UK, we’ll improve our air quality and reduce carbon dioxide levels – a huge step in the fight against climate change. It won’t happen overnight, but we’ll be heading in the right direction.
And we’ll not only be less reliant on overseas natural gas supplies, but investment in green energy and renewables will create thousands of UK jobs. And with these ambitious targets, the UK is setting the standard amongst developed nations and leading by example. So there’s much to be excited for – and plenty of reasons to be positive about low-carbon heating.
So what do we mean by low-carbon heating?
Right now, low CO2 heating options include electrically-powered heat pumps and boilers that are hydrogen-blend ready. And these are technologies we’re confident in and already know well.
Air, ground or water-sourced heat pumps use the same clever technology found in your fridge freezer. They absorb heat from the air outside, compress it to high temperatures and transfer it into your home.
So far we’ve successfully trialled hybrid heat pumps in the West Midlands and gained invaluable feedback from our customers and engineers. And we’re also trialling air source heat pumps in the South West of England – if you live in that area you can get involved here.
The data we gather from these trials will guide our nationwide rollout of air source heat pumps in the coming months. Check out our recent article on air source heat pumps for more.
Hydrogen-blend ready boilers
Although there are plans to introduce a 20% hydrogen mix to the UK’s gas supply, the government won’t announce their consultation decision until 2026. That means we’re unlikely to get hydrogen in our supply before 2028. But it does have massive potential. Water is the only by-product of burning hydrogen, so as a clean source of power it could be a great alternative for heating our homes in the future.
And if you’re in the market to replace your boiler right now, there’s no need to worry. Most of our new boilers are ready for a hydrogen-blend (if and when it does arrive) and most are also A-rated for efficiency. So you can expect many years of service without any unwelcome costs later on. For a more in-depth look at hydrogen technology, see our article on hydrogen and hydrogen-blend ready boilers.
What you can do right now
And you don’t need to wait until 2035 to switch to heating that’s kinder to the planet. In fact, we’re ready to roll when it comes to air source heat pumps. And it might even pay to get on board sooner rather than later…
That’s because the Renewable Heating Incentive (the government’s current scheme) rewards you for switching to a lower-carbon option, such as a heat pump. And depending on how much green energy you generate, you can get up to £9,000 in quarterly payments over seven years. It will go a long way towards covering your investment, and makes the switch feel much more achievable. But with the governments new plan announced, the Renewable Heating Incentive will now be replaced in March 2022 – so it’s a great time to apply if you’re interested.
For more on the governments Heat and Building Strategy, here’s a link to the announcement page.