1 December 2021
Green Homes Campaign

There are close to 2 million heating appliances sold in the UK each year, over 80 per cent of which are domestic gas boilers. With 30 per cent of UK emissions coming from buildings, it is right that the Government is exploring cleaner, greener heating for our homes and buildings.   

In addition to growing the installation of electric heat pumps, the Government is examining the role hydrogen could play in heating and will make a strategic decision in 2026. By the mid-2030s all newly installed heating systems will either use low-carbon technologies, such as heat pumps, or support new technologies, such as hydrogen-ready boilers. In other words, the Government is aiming to achieve no new gas boiler installations after 2035. As well as switching to low carbon heating, It is of course also important to look at making new build and existing homes as energy efficient as possible. To achieve net zero emissions by 2050 

Last year I presented my own Private Members’ Bill, titled the ‘New Homes (New Development Standards) Bill’. This Bill would underpin in statute the requirement for all new-build houses to have full-fibre broadband connections, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and improved energy efficiency through increased standards for insulation. I firmly believe these proposals can play an important role in reducing our overall emissions and I am glad that some aspects have been adopted in alternative legislation.
I welcome the energy efficient standards set through the Building Regulations for new homes and non-domestic buildings. The introduction of the Future Homes Standard will ensure that from 2025, an average home will produce at least 75 per cent lower CO2 emissions than one built to current energy efficiency requirements. Homes built under the Future Homes Standard will be ‘zero carbon ready’, which means that in the longer term, these homes will be future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency. No further retrofit work will be necessary to enable them to become zero carbon homes as the electricity grid continues to decarbonise. It is encouraging that the Government has accelerated work on a full technical specification for the FHS, which will be consulted upon in 2023, with the intention to introduce the necessary legislation in 2024.  

I know many people want this to be implemented quickly, and I am told that an interim uplift, effective from June 2022, will be brought forward to deliver a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions and provide a stepping stone to the FHS in 2025. New homes built under this standard are expected to produce 31 per cent less C02 emissions, compared to current standards. 

Crucially, homes delivered under the FHS will be 'zero carbon ready', which means that in the longer term, no further retrofit work for energy efficiency will be necessary to enable them to become zero-carbon homes as the electricity grid continues to decarbonise.  

To help consumers transition, a new £450 million three-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme will see households offered grants of up to £5,000 for low-carbon heating systems, so they cost the same as a gas boiler now. The Government has been clear that no-one will be forced to remove their existing fossil fuel boiler, but with industry confident that electric heat pumps will be as cheap to buy and run as gas-fired appliances by 2030, homeowners will be able to easily make these choices when the time comes to replace their old boiler. 

Existing buildings, particularly historic ones as many are in the Cotswolds, present a unique challenge as many are energy inefficient yet important and defining hallmarks of our country's rich history. The Government has recognised that more historical buildings will need to have the right energy efficiency measures to support the zero-carbon objectives.  

The Heat and Buildings Strategy, which was published in October 2021, noted that the most effective way to decarbonise buildings will depend upon many factors, such as their location, fabric efficiency and whether there are any protections in place. It was reported that in certain grade-listed buildings it may not be cost-effective or practical to increase to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) C. However, even with limited energy efficiency improvements, it was anticipated that, by 2035, electricity bills for such homes with a high-temperature heat pump would be similar or less than their current fossil fuel heating costs. 

One of the hardest things to decarbonise is heat but I am confident that these policy announcements are a big step in the right direction.