Current central heating systems threaten green targets, says cross-party group
Cross-party think tank Policy Connect has said that current central heating systems may prevent the UK from meeting its 2050 climate change targets in a new report.
Gas central heating boilers are perceived as a worry for the UK’s net-zero carbon goal, given their nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Roughly 14 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK come from homes, yet a poll among MPs has revealed that the majority in the Commons do not consider pollution from home heating to be a priority in meeting green targets.
The government does want low-carbon heating systems to be installed in every new home built after 2025, but the majority of UK homes will still be left with the current, less efficient system.
For the UK to meet its climate change targets, Policy Connect says that more than 20,000 homes per week will have to convert to a low-carbon heating system between 2025 and 2050.
Joanna Furtado, the leading author of the Policy Connect report, said: “The next five years are critical for heat decarbonisation in new and existing homes and for meeting our climate targets.
“We need to spark a national conversation on heat as MPs and consumers are still in the dark on the savings greener home heat solutions could offer.”
Furtado also emphasised the need to train engineers and installers ahead of the transition in heating systems and suggested that the government create a new regulatory body to manage the switchover.
A plan to support the switch will go to consultation before the end of 2019.
A government spokesperson said: "This report rightly highlights heat as one of the UK's biggest challenges in decarbonisation.
"Heat accounts for more than a third of our current carbon emissions, which is why we're spending £2.8 billion to encourage low-carbon heating in both homes and businesses as well as investing in innovation.
"Getting the right mix of technologies to increase energy efficiency is vital. We will also require changes in consumer behaviour as we work towards net zero by 2050."
However, policies to better insulate UK homes have not been forthcoming, despite its importance for the proposed low-carbon heating systems.
Furthermore, the Advisory Committee on Climate Change has previously indicated that it would cost £26,300 to switch an existing build over to a low-carbon heating system, compared to just £4,800 to install low-carbon heating in a new home.
Steve Turner from the Home Builders Federation has suggested that converting existing and less efficient homes could help meet climate change targets, but the significant cost must fall upon the home owners or the government rather than builders.
Turner told BBC News: “There are significantly greater emissions savings to be made from existing housing on the basis that they are considerably less efficient than new builds.
"Big energy saving could be made in inefficient older homes as opposed to the incremental gains from new builds. The cost for retrofitting existing homes would need to be met by owners or government, as opposed to requiring builders to incorporate it into their costs on new homes.”