With the recent energy price cap increase, the typical household will pay an extra £693 a year to take the total energy bill up to £1971 a year for gas and electricity, representing a rise of 54%. This makes the future of home heating look quite bleak coupled with the fact that the majority of the UK’s homes are heated by fossil fuel-powered boilers which contribute significantly to the UK’s emissions.
However, according to research by renewable electricity provider Good Energy, we can heat our homes using exclusively renewable energy and have a zero-carbon power sector well before the government’s 2050 aim if we make a few changes.
If we accelerate the uptake of wind and solar power, we can have a carbon-free electrical grid by 2035, according to Energy Systems Catapult’s modelling. We’ll also need to improve our house insulation and replace gas boilers with air and ground source Heat Pumps.
Air Source Heat Pumps absorb heat from the outside air with a unit that will sit outside the home. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems and hot water for your home. This will get rid of the need for gas meaning no gas bills and a greener and more energy-efficient heating system.
Heat Pumps are becoming a more and more popular way to not only save money on energy bills but also reduce your carbon footprint.
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is currently running which allows customers to claim up to £13,700 back in quarterly payments spread over 7 years from the government. The RHI ends on the 31st of March and is being replaced by the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). The BUS is a government grant which offers customers £5000 upfront towards the cost of an Air Source Heat Pump and £6000 towards a ground source.
Manufacturers are producing hydrogen ready boilers however these are only capable of running on 20% hydrogen and still 80% gas so they are not much better for the environment. Hydrogen only boilers are likely to still be a while off and despite hydrogen emissions being carbon-free at the point of use, the production of hydrogen is neither cheap nor environmentally friendly. This means that if hydrogen only boilers do become available, is it likely they will be expensive.
It is critical that you adequately insulate your home. Experts believe around half of the heat in the typical home is lost through the walls and loft and so wall and loft insulation will provide the greatest savings and warmth. Wall insulation can save around £185 a year or more in larger houses. Not only will it save you money, but insulation is also good for the environment as you will be using less energy. Ground floor insulation can also save you about £50 a year.
Other ways to save money and energy include insulating hot water tank and pipes, draught excluders and radiator reflector panels.
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