Insulation and electric heat pumps will cut ties to Russian gas quicker than new North Sea gas fields
Proceeding with the government’s electric heat pump roll-out plans and accelerating home insulation rates would cut gas demand quicker than proposed expansion of drilling in the North Sea.
By George Smeetoninfo@eciu.net
Information on this page correct as of:
New analysis from the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit shows that proceeding with the government’s electric heat pump roll-out plans and accelerating home insulation rates would cut gas demand quicker than proposed expansion of drilling in the North Sea. 
The UK meets 4% of its gas demand from Russia which would equate to £6million a day under recent wholesale prices. The equivalent demand could be wiped out in just five years (as early as 2027) helping to protect 6.5 million homes from volatile gas prices through insulation and electric heat pumps. As the gas price is set by international markets, only by using less gas can households lock in lower costs. North Sea fields proposed earlier this year wouldn’t cut costs for customers and wouldn’t come fully online until 2028. 
Heat pumps will be on average £260 a year cheaper to operate than gas boilers from April 2022  and the new Boiler Upgrade Scheme which also kicks off in April will provide £5,000 to households wanting to switch to a heat pump.  All types of homes in the UK are suited having a heat pump, and an estimated 9million homes have good levels of thermal efficiency such that they could have a heat pump fitted easily. 
Commenting, Dr Simon Cran-McGreehin, Head of Analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “The net zero path leads us to common sense home insulation and clean, renewable, homegrown energy that enables us to cut dependence on other countries like Russia for gas and oil. It’s a permanent solution and the UK needs to embrace it with greater urgency if we want to be truly energy secure.”
Dr Jan Rosenow, Principal and European Programme Director, Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) said:
“A massive scaling up of energy efficiency and heat pumps are the obvious response to sky high gas prices and the dependency on gas. The government’s targets are ambitious but not ambitious enough. We could go faster and further as the Committee on Climate Change have shown time and time again, and get ourselves off Russian gas well before 2027.”
Recent polling from Opinium for ECIU  shows that a clear majority (57%) of the public see the best way of eliminating UK dependence on Russian gas as reducing our use of gas all together, and instead expanding renewables. Less than a third (29%) see increasing the UK's domestic supply of gas through expanded drilling and fracking as the solution.
Wholesale gas price rises are driving the vast majority of energy bill hikes, with gas directly adding at least £500 to the average bill under April's new price cap, with a further £68 due to supplier collapses.
If UK homes were upgraded using insulation and other heating efficiency measures, such that the average EPC rating moved from band D to the Government's target of band C, each household would use on average 20% less gas, overall UK gas demand would fall by 8%, and imports could be reduced by 15%. 
Notes to editors:
- Briefing is attached to this email and will be available online from 22:00 on 9/3/22: How to cut the UK’s dependency on Russian gas… permanently
- Analysis by ECIU and Uplift, based on data by Rystad Energy
- See analysis by the Regulatory Assistance Project (February 2022): https://www.raponline.org/knowledge-center/analysis-running-costs-of-heat-pumps-versus-gas-boilers/
- See announcement ‘Plan to drive down the cost of clean heat’, BEIS (October 2021): https://www.gov.uk/government/news/plan-to-drive-down-the-cost-of-clean-heat
- The Energy Systems Catapult has found that all housing types are suitable for heat pumps: https://es.catapult.org.uk/news/electrification-of-heat-trial-finds-heat-pumps-suitable-for-all-housing-types/
Some homes require extra insulation for a heat pump to operate optimally, but homes with an EPC rating of A-C are likely to need little or no extra insulation. ECIU estimates that this accounts for around 9million UK homes, based on taking the number in each EPC band, sharing out in proportion those that don’t yet have an EPC rating, and matching the total to the UK housing stock of 28million homes.
- For ECIU polling, see: https://eciu.net/insights/2022/polling-majority-willing-to-chip-in-on-energy-bills-to-undermine-russias-gas-war-chest
- For analysis, see: https://eciu.net/analysis/briefings/heating/insulation-and-gas-prices
For more information:
Kathy Grenville, Communications Officer, ECIU, Tel: 07501 874 214, email: Kathy.email@example.com
George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: 07894 571 153, email: firstname.lastname@example.org