Today, most of us primarily use fossil fuels for heating. According to the ESC, this accounts for 31% of our total household carbon footprint.
This means that major changes are required to reach the 2050 net-zero emissions target.
Different places have different solutions, report modelling from ESC shows we may rely on electric heat pumps for low carbon heating technology by 2050
Transforming low-carbon heating
By 2050, every gas and oil boiler will need to be replaced with a low carbon heating system. To have a chance of making this happen, at least 300,000 units will need to be installed each year for the next ten years. The government plans to add 600,000 people a year by 2028.
But less than 1 in 10 homeowners (9%) plan to switch to low-carbon heating when replacing their existing boilers.
Understandably, when most homeowners are happy with their current heating, they don't want to incur the cost or deal with major upheavals.
To win over occupants, low-carbon options need to be more accessible, affordable and attractive.
Addressing the cost of low-carbon heating
The government's climate change committee recently outlined the cost of retrofitting a typical house with a heat pump at around £10,000. This is out of reach for many, so lower prices and grants or incentives are needed to encourage usage. While some plans do exist today, more support is needed.
One way is to remove VAT on energy-efficient products - such as heat pumps or household batteries - which will lower costs for customers. This is our proposal to the government.
Heat pumps work best in efficient homes. We're investing in home improvements, spending £25 million a year as part of the government's ECO scheme to install insulation in the nation's least efficient homes. This will reduce energy use, emissions and bills for millions of households.
One thing is for sure. Achieving net-zero emissions requires a concerted effort from governments, manufacturers and energy companies to help homeowners make the switch easily and affordably. At Shell Energy, we are committed to doing our part.
Take a closer look at possible solutions
Let’s take a closer look at low carbon heating systems:
Heat pumps - taking heat from the ground or the air and delivering it to our homes - could be our main solution. But how does a heat pump work?
Think of it like an upside-down refrigerator - moving or pumping heat from one place to another.
They do use electricity, but are very efficient—turning one unit of electricity into three units of heat by extracting additional energy from the air or the ground (by contrast, the most efficient gas-fired boilers convert one unit of gas into less than one unit of gas) heat).
Want to know more?
Below you can find more about the challenges and solutions for achieving net zero.