Comments on upcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy

Published:02 February 2021

Attendees at a media briefing on the Government’s upcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy heard about the opportunities presented by improving the UK’s housing stock:

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, said: “Net Zero has been at the core of the Government’s actions, from the election-winning manifesto, through new and tougher targets, and now to litany of policies to make carbon neutral Britain a reality. Next on the list is sating the immense public appetite for action on emissions by offering families a route to cutting carbon from domestic life.

“Well-insulated homes kept warm by zero carbon energy sources are not just a boon for our domestic carbon targets and international reputation, but also for improved quality of lives and poverty reduction for millions of families across the country. Warmer homes, lower bills, cleaner air and better health are all within reach. An ambitious plan to decarbonise Britain’s homes can make these promises a reality.”

Paula Higgins, Founder and CEO of the Homeowners Alliance, said: “There is no denying the huge interest in the Green Homes Grant, both as means of cutting bills and taking action on climate change, but the currently-unworkable policy means many homeowners are left frustrated.

“People are rapidly losing patience with a scheme that they are finding it almost impossible to access. Addressing short-termism and making sure plans are in place before policies are announced are clear ways to avoid making these mistakes again.

“Measures to improve the consumer journey in the Green Homes Grant can also be applied to moving beyond boilers and widespread rollout of efficiency measures. Better communication from Government, informed suppliers, clear timescales and new policies – such as offsetting renovation costs against stamp duty – can all boost uptake of actions to green our homes.”

Greg Jackson, CEO and founder of Octopus Energy, said: "It's now obvious that transport will decarbonise, as electric cars are simply better than diesel and petrol, and are increasingly getting close to cost parity. Yet until very recently, many experts and commentators were poo-pooing such suggestions. Similarly with renewable generation - costs have plummeted to the point its competitive with fossil fuels.

"It'll be the same with heating. Today, heat pumps are too expensive, and don't always perform as well as traditional heating, but investment in scaling and standardising will see hardware and installation costs fall, and performance improve. As we shift green taxes from clean fuels like electricity to dirty ones like gas, running costs will fall too - heat pumps are about 3x more energy efficient than gas boilers so are capable of being inherently cheaper.

"We're getting close to the start of a green heating revolution, of cheaper better heating powered by guilt-free, carbon-free electricity."

Jess Ralston, Analyst at ECIU, said: “The upcoming heat strategy brings with it a number of high profile decisions. As well as a long-term vision for emissions-free homes, it is expected to deliver short-term fixes to the stuttering Green Homes Grant and a host of policies to make well-insulated and zero carbon homes a reality.

“Industry is replete with solutions to issues blighting the Green Homes Grant, from small fixes needed to the application process to a longer roadmap for energy efficiency that allows them to invest in upskilling and training new workers. Taking these on board can ensure that the flagship energy efficiency policy becomes a success upon which a plan to improve millions more homes can be built.

“A likely pledge to call time on the gas boiler will also see us move closer towards hitting our carbon targets. There is no place for high carbon heating in a net zero nation, but homeowners will likely need advice and guidance on how to modernise keeping warm at home. The recent climate assembly showed nearly nine-in-ten supported ending sales of boilers – a welcome indication of public backing when understanding of the alternatives is improved.”

Notes to editors:

  1. A recording of the media briefing can be found here. Please note that to watch the whole recording you will have to click the download button in the top right-hand corner.
  2. The Government is set to publish its Heat and Buildings Strategy imminently, setting out proposals to decarbonise heating in residential and other buildings.

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