BRE calls on Government to improve the energy efficiency of homes

Latest News Fri, Jan 20, 2023 7:57 AM

New polling from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) has found that the majority of the public (62%) would not feel at all confident explaining how heat pump technology works.

In addition, less than half (42%) of consumers have heard of the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme which is specifically designed to incentivise the uptake of heat pumps.

The findings come as BRE publishes a new report, Decarbonising Heat in Britain’s Buildings, which calls on government to go further in its support to transition households to clean heat.

While the UK has committed to reaching net zero by 2050, some 88% of homes in the UK are still heated by natural gas (1). Heating our buildings accounts for nearly a quarter (23%) of the UK’s total greenhouse gases and decarbonising heat will be crucial to achieving net zero.

BRE’s research finds that, based on currently available technology, heat pumps are the best option to transition households away from fossil fuels and onto clean energy. Heat pumps can be most affordably installed and operated in well-insulated buildings. The reduced heat demand in insulated buildings can be readily met by the steady, lower temperature heat that heat pumps most efficiently provide.

However, BRE’s research also reveals that there remain significant barriers to take-up of this technology, and the UK is far behind comparable European countries in the development of its heat pump market. A lack of public awareness, slow momentum on energy efficiency changes, and limited investment in the market are the key factors contributing to the slow take-up of heat pumps.

Whilst the UK Government has launched a public awareness campaign to encourage UK households to cut their energy use, BRE is calling on the Government to do more including extending its campaign to include information on heat pumps specifically. Improving public understanding of how low carbon heating technologies work will go a long way towards increasing consumer take-up and helping people make the transition to clean energy.

BRE is continuing to call on the UK Government to build on the progress already made in this area and implement a national retrofit strategy including the acceleration of the roll-out of insulation. This is an immediate and cost-efficient solution to help reduce energy demand in homes and buildings.

Greater investment and a further policy push in the UK heat pump market will be vital to bringing down costs for consumers and encouraging widespread adoption of the technology. BRE recommends that the Government introduces subsidies for early adopters of heat pumps to stimulate the provider market and drive the mass adoption needed to reduce costs.

Gillian Charlesworth, CEO of BRE, said: “Improving consumer awareness of heat pumps will help to boost demand over the long-term and, ultimately, bring the UK closer to its net zero target.

“Whilst this awareness programme continues, we would also like to see government implement a national retrofit strategy that will improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock by further accelerating the roll-out of measures such as insulation.

“Our latest polling shows that there is a clear knowledge gap around the benefits of heat pumps which needs to be addressed if we are to deliver meaningful, lasting change and decarbonise the UK’s inefficient buildings. Neither the Government nor the public can afford to waste this opportunity – and keeping up current momentum in this area will be vital.”

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