A new report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised the government that it should be illegal to install gas hobs or gas boilers in new homes from 2025.
This kind of legislation would mean no newly built homes would be connected to the gas grid and would use renewable or low-carbon heating solutions instead. The same report also warned the government that UK homes are currently not equipped to withstand the impact of climate change and a future of more extreme weather. Efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases emitted by our home heating systems have stalled in terms of both retrofitting in existing homes and in the construction of new homes.
The report estimates that if newly built homes are designed and constructed effectively, for example with low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps and high quality loft and wall insulation, annual energy bill savings could be between £70 and £260. To achieve the necessary efficiency standards, designers, builders and installers of renewable technology need to receive more effective training and local authorities need the funding to enforce penalties for non-compliance.
The chair of the CCC’s adaptation subcommittee, Baroness Brown, said:
“There are almost 30 million homes in the UK, and the depressing fact is most of them are not in a condition to keep us comfortable and productive and well as the climate changes.
“They are a huge part of the problem – energy use in our homes is around a fifth of greenhouse gases, and the biggest part of those emissions is from burning gas for heating and hot water.”
However, the CCC’s report has not been received well by everyone. Former Government Minister, Mike Foster, is now working for the Energy and Utilities Alliance EUA); he voted for the Climate Change Act and as International Development Minister worked to protect the world’s poorest communities who are vulnerable to climate change. He believes that the Committee on Climate Change isn’t being realistic in their recommendations:
“The authors of this report are living on another planet when they should be giving realistic options on how to save this one. Some of the suggestions simply don’t reflect how people actually live in their homes.
“We absolutely have to reduce our carbon emissions but we need to take people with us on that journey. Banning gas boilers is a stupid thing to do. We need to change the type of gas to a low carbon version, such as biomethane or hydrogen. The focus should be on future proofing homes not banning something prematurely. So gas grid connections, using biomethane or hydrogen should still be part of the mix, not banned.
“That way we keep the convenience and affordability of a gas boiler without the carbon. Instead it seems, the Committee listen to their friends from the heat pump industry and plug their appliances instead. Ironically, that means using electricity generated in gas-fired power stations. I have to question why the Committee are so keen on fitting heat pumps when so many other, more economically viable options exist.”
A government spokesperson commented that the government would be considering the CCC’S recommendations carefully before adding:
“The UK has reduced emissions faster than any other G7 nation, and moving to a greener, cleaner economy while continuing to grow the economy is at the heart of our modern industrial strategy. Over the next 10 years, we have committed to drive £6bn to improve the energy efficiency of lower income and vulnerable households.”
If you’re interested in reducing your home’s carbon emissions and lowering your energy costs you may want to consider installing an air source or ground source heat pump which extracts latent heat from the air and uses it to produce hot water.