Heat in Buildings

BEIS is working with stakeholders to save carbon, reduce heating bills and give consumers greater control over their heating.

The government is committed to expanding the low carbon economy while hitting our carbon budgets. It is likely that by 2050, we will need to fully decarbonise how we heat and cool our homes and businesses. We are looking at the best ways to cut carbon emissions from heat in the 2020s, thinking in particular about how we can reduce reliance on subsidy. We want to lower the barriers to the take up of low carbon heating and cooling. We also want to sustain a viable supply chain for heat pumps beyond the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), while not closing off options for longer term heat decarbonisation.

There are a variety of technologies with potential to contribute to the transformation necessary to meet 2050 targets – including heat networks, heat pumps, hydrogen, and bio-gas. It is not yet clear which combination of these will work best at scale and keep costs down. Different approaches need to be tested further as we develop a long-term plan that delivers the best solution for consumers.

What we have done so far

Improving gas boiler standards

We recognise the continuing role of gas heating systems into the 2020s. The new Boiler Plus standards for domestic boilers will ensure all households have a reasonable level of choice and control over their heating to enable them to achieve comfort and efficiency without increased bills. Our homes are diverse and savings will vary from household to household. Those with the highest heating bills currently will make the greatest savings.

Empowering Consumers

Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in choosing their heating systems. We have been working with consumer groups to ensure there is trusted, relevant and accessible advice so consumers can choose the system that is right for them and their circumstances. Independent advice will help provide the confidence consumers need in making decisions about their home, as well as peace-of-mind that their installer is carrying out an installation to a high standard. For installers, it may encourage them to focus on ensuring that the consumer understands the information that they need to manage their heating system in an effective manner, as well as providing reassurance that their competitors are giving similar advice.

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Understanding the energy performance of homes

It is important to have a reliable and consistent method of finding out the energy performance of homes. It means that consumers are informed about how energy efficient their home is and what they might be spending on their energy bills. We are responsible for maintaining and improving the national methodology for this, called the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP). We have announced the next set of developments that are intended to be made to SAP, leading to improved accuracy.

What we are doing next

We continue to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings, to reduce heat demand.

Homes off the gas grid

As announced in the Clean Growth Strategy, for homes off the gas grid, we intend to phase out the installation of high carbon fossil fuel heating in new and existing buildings during the 2020s, starting with new builds. We want to work as closely as possible with consumers and stakeholders as we develop detailed policy options. We are particularly interested in general barriers and levers, including but not limited to:

  • What prevents people from installing low carbon heating now?
  • What might enable them in the future?
  • What impacts might innovation and technological change have? Could it make low carbon heating more attractive and/or cheaper?
  • Why are oil boilers still being installed in some new homes?
  • What industry might do to encourage the move away from oil
  • What government might do to encourage the move away from oil
  • There are different types of heat loads in non-domestic use – do they need a different type of policy lever?

Business heat and cooling use and buildings

We have committed in the Clean Growth Strategy to an ambition for a 20 per cent business energy efficiency improvement. In addition to the intention to phase out the installation of high carbon fossil fuel heating already outlined, we have set out further options for business building performance and heat and cooling use:

  • To raise minimum standards of energy performance for rented business buildings
  • Working with DCLG on how we can improve the energy performance of new and existing business buildings and promote low carbon and higher energy efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • To explore how voluntary standards can further drive improved building performance and technology choices

We are working with consumers and stakeholders to help develop these options. We would welcome any other feedback you have on how businesses would be impacted by any of the proposed options. We are particularly keen to hear from those working in or representing the retail, hospitality and office sectors, both small and large.

New Build

As outlined above, the Clean Growth Strategy includes the Government’s ambition to phase out the installation of high carbon fossil fuel heating in new homes during the 2020s.

In addition to this, there was also a commitment to consult on improving requirements for new homes where the evidence suggests that there are cost-effective and affordable opportunities, and it is safe and practical to do so. This will look to ensure that new homes are futureproofed for the installation of lower carbon heating systems.

This consultation will be subject to the conclusions of the independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety, being led by Dame Judith Hackitt. The review is due to report in Spring 2018.

We are engaging with consumers and industry, and work closely with DCLG, to understand how new homes can be improved so that they provide comfort, with low energy bills and are ready for the shift to low carbon heating. We welcome ideas on how requirements could be improved in a way that contributes to the decarbonisation of heat. We are also keen to understand better what futureproofing options are most feasible. Which measures would be beneficial in a range of different future decarbonisation scenarios? What might the barriers be to futureproofing measures?

Any recommendations or questions?

If you have a recommendation, an idea, or a question we’d like to hear from you. Please get in touch:

Email: buildingheat@beis.gsi.gov.uk

Heat in Buildings
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
1 Victoria Street