28 Jan 2021
The vast majority of new homes built since 1970 are heated by gas-fuelled appliances. In 2019 the Committee on Climate Change published two important reports which highlighted the significant contribution of our homes to UK carbon dioxide emissions and the need to decarbonise our housing stock. As part of the strategy the committee recommended that all new homes built from 2025 should be forbidden from connecting to the gas grid. The Government responded by announcing its Future Homes Standard, which confirms the aspiration not to connect to the gas grid.
This is obviously a major change, and the home-building sector will need to rethink and redesign its products, our homes, to meet this goal. The industry will need to retrain its workforce and supply chain to produce and install new systems. Homeowners will need to adapt their behaviour and lifestyles to using new heating technologies. The solutions must be acceptable to consumers and capable of attracting investment to deliver them.
So what might the non-gas home of 2025 look like? It will include alternative heating appliances, both for space heating and hot water, and will have to be very energy efficient at the fabric level. It may be stating the obvious, but the less energy a home needs to use, the lower the running costs and – in the case of electric solutions - the lower the demand for new electrical generation and reinforced distribution capacity.
Neil’s talk at CIH's Climate change week will focus on the significant role of electric heat pumps, and will also touch on solar heating, photovoltaic systems and the place of household-scale energy storage. In particular it will address the important technical and market issues that housebuilders, specifiers and designers must understand in order to ensure that the homes of the future will perform as intended.
There have been many lessons learnt even in our limited experience of off-gas homes to date, and by being aware of the possible pitfalls the home-building industry of today can move into the new era of energy efficient, low carbon homes with confidence.
Dr Neil Cutland is the director of Cutland Consulting Ltd, an energy and sustainability consultancy providing advice, research and strategies that reduce the use of energy and ensure a sustainable and profitable future.