Heat in Buildings

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is working with stakeholders to save carbon and transform the way we heat our homes and businesses.

Government priorities

The government is committed to expanding the low carbon economy while hitting our carbon budgets. On 27 June 2019, the UK government set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the UK economy by 2050. We are now looking at the best ways to cut carbon emissions from heat during the 2020s, thinking 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 biogas. 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

Empowering consumers

Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in choosing their heating systems and understanding the options to reduce the carbon footprint of their home.

Improving consumer advice

Following the recommendations of the Each Home Counts Review, government has worked with consumer groups and other partners to develop the Simple Energy Advice website, where consumers can find a range of trusted, impartial advice on making their homes warmer, greener, and more energy-efficient and information on financial assistance schemes available.

Improving gas boiler standards

We recognise the continuing role of gas heating systems into the 2020s. The Boiler Plus standards for domestic boilers, introduced in April 2018, 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.

Clarification on the Boiler Plus regulations for installers and consumers (PDF, 72KB, 1 page)

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). In 2016 we consulted on changes to make SAP more accurate and in July 2018 the most recent version of SAP (SAP 10) was published. This version of SAP is due to come into force with the updated Part L of the Building Regulations in 2020.

Homes off the gas grid

As announced in the Clean Growth Strategy, we intend to phase out the installation of high carbon fossil fuel heating in new and existing buildings in areas off the gas grid, during the 2020s.

The Buildings Mission

The Buildings Mission, the first mission of the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, has the objective to at least halve the energy use of all new buildings by 2030. This will be achieved by:

  • making sure every new building in Britain is safe, high quality, efficient and uses clean heating
  • innovating to bring down the cost of building low energy, low carbon buildings
  • driving lower carbon, lower cost and higher quality construction through innovative techniques
  • giving consumers more control over how they use energy through smart technologies
  • accelerating a transformation to modern methods of construction in the construction sector

Home of 2030 Design Competition

The Home of 2030 Design Competition was announced in October 2018 by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in a joint venture with the Department of Health and Social Care and Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government. The design and delivery competition was created to drive innovation in the provision of affordable, efficient and healthy homes for all. Home of 2030 aims to inspire and reward the ambition of housing providers, designers, the supply chain and others to meet the big challenge of future housing needs.

A team led by BRE with the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Design Council and MOBIE (Ministry of Building Innovation + Education) have recently been appointed to work with government as the competition delivery partner.

Future Homes Standard

A Future Homes Standard, to be introduced by 2025, will require new build homes to be future proofed with low carbon heating and world leading levels of energy efficiency. We propose homes built to this standard should have 75% to 80% fewer CO2 emissions than those built to current building regulations. We are consulting on a meaningful and achievable increase to energy efficiency standards for new homes to be introduced through Building Regulations in 2020, as a stepping stone for this commitment. The consultation on changes to Part L (conservation of fuel and power) and Part F (ventilation) of the Building Regulations for new dwellings launched on 1 October 2019. The deadline for responses is 10 January 2020.

This consultation will be subject to the conclusions of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, being led by Dame Judith Hackitt.

A further consultation will follow, in the coming months, proposing changes to the energy efficiency standards for non-domestic buildings and for building work to existing homes and non-domestic buildings; and on preventing overheating in buildings.

Electrification of Heat Demonstration Project

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has launched a £16.5 million Electrification of Heat Demonstration Project. The project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of a large-scale transition to electrification of heat in Great Britain by installing heat pumps in a representative range of homes, alongside new products and services designed to overcome barriers to deployment. The project is expected to run from October 2019 to March 2022.

What we are doing next

We continue to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings to reduce heat demand. Following publication of our Heat in buildings call for evidence, we plan to consult on regulatory options to phase out the installation of fossil fuel heating systems in off gas grid buildings.

The government will also be:

  • exploring and testing the different approaches to heat decarbonisation, for buildings on and off the gas grid, particularly looking at the role of heat networks, heat pumps, hydrogen and biogas
  • accelerating the decarbonisation of our gas supplies by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid, as announced in the 2019 Spring Statement; we will consult on the appropriate mechanism to deliver this commitment in due course
  • improving the way businesses use energy, to support the delivery of our ambition to reduce business energy use by 20% by 2030
  • reducing energy demand in industry, through our £18m Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme and £315m Industrial Energy Transformation Fund
  • promoting heat networks in areas of denser heat demand, through the £320m Heat Networks Investment project
  • developing a new policy framework for the long-term future of heat; we are now working on a Heat Policy Roadmap set out key steps required to make these key decisions on heat decarbonisation in the 2020s, which we aim to publish in 2020

Any recommendations or questions?

If you have a recommendation, an idea or a question we’d like to hear from you.

buildingheat@beis.gov.uk

Building Electrification and System Transformation
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
2nd Floor
1 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0ET