Net zero homes most ‘energy patriotic’, use less than half the energy imports of gas/petrol households – analysis

Households with a heat pump and electric vehicle are far less dependent on foreign oil and gas imports, make more use of British electricity.

Profile picture of George Smeeton

By George Smeeton

Last updated:

New analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has found that homes using electric heat pumps, insulation and EVs use less than half of the imported energy than a household reliant on gas and petrol does [1].

A typical household using a gas boiler and petrol car will be dependent on imports for almost 70% of its energy, or 17 megawatt hours (MWh) a year. Whereas a home insulated to EPC C standards, using a heat pump and an electric car will use less than half (45%) of the energy imports of a household with a gas boiler and a petrol car, at around 7.5MWh a year.

Homes with a heat pump and electric car and also solar panels would use around a third (36%) of the fuel imports of a typical home – just 6MWh a year.

Commenting on the analysis, Jess Ralston, Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said:

“Those who want to be ‘energy patriotic’ and buy British homegrown energy should be switching from gas boilers and petrol cars to electric heat pumps and EVs that increasingly run on British wind and solar energy.

“As North Sea oil and gas output continues its inevitable decline, the dependence on foreign imports for households using boilers and internal combustion cars will only become more stark.

“Generating more British renewable energy and using it to power heat pumps and electric cars would get households, and the UK as a whole, off energy imports and remove the risk of the kind of price volatility we’ve seen in recent years.

“The Government has increased the grant for heat pumps, but then cut other policy under intense lobbying pressure from gas boiler manufacturers which likely means fewer heat pumps sold, leaving households and the UK more dependent on foreign gas.”

Industry projections show [2], out to 2030 the North Sea will continue its inevitable decline, with or without new oil and gas licenses. Only about 60% of the gas that we use is imported. Just 8-10% of the petrol used in the UK in recent years was refined in the UK using oil produced in the UK.

Homes that run a diesel car and use an oil, rather than gas, boiler are even more dependent on foreign sources of energy, being almost 90% import dependent. Worse still, their higher energy demand means that their imports of 30MWh a year are 80% higher than those of a typical household.

Recent research from the ECIU [3] found that a year on from the ‘Powering Up Britain’ strategy, Government policy is pushing the UK backwards on energy security. It found that delays to offshore wind farms, caused by the Government, mean the UK could miss out on 22 times more homegrown electricity than could be generated by gas from new North Sea licences.

In 2022, the UK got most of its pipeline gas from Norway, with some additional pipeline imports from Belgium and the Netherlands. For the first time, liquified natural gas (LNG) imports came primarily from the US (50%) rather than Qatar (30%), which provided the majority of the UK’s LNG imports between 2009 and 2021. US LNG imports were higher than usual as the UK acted as a conduit for supply into Europe to help reduce reliance on Russian gas [4].

Heat pumps are manufactured at various sites in the UK including those made by Kensa in Cornwall, Vaillant in Derbyshire, Octopus Energy in Northern Ireland and Mitsubishi Electric in Scotland. At present, fully electric Minis are made in the Oxford area, and production of the new generation fully electric Nissan will start in Sunderland in 2026. Hybrids made in the UK include the Toyota Corolla and several Jaguar Land Rover models.