Survey says government’s green heating plans too costly for rural households

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A new survey has found the majority of rural households are unable or unwilling to pay for the green heating measures proposed by government, suggesting current plans to reduce emissions from homes are unrealistic.

The government’s approach is to encourage homes that are not connected to the gas grid, including those on heating oil, to switch to heat pumps and in some cases, solid biomass or hybrid systems.

The average cost to install an air source heat pump is nearly £11,000 and for a biomass system, over £16,000. But the survey found over half (55%) of rural households would not be prepared to pay any more than £2,500 towards a new low carbon heating system, with a third unwilling to pay anything at all, raising questions over how the transition will be funded.

Consumers living in poorly insulated homes (EPC Bands E-G) may also have to fund additional energy efficiency improvements to their homes for effective heat pump use. Figures suggest 65% of oil heated properties fall into this category.

The government estimates the average cost to upgrade these homes to an acceptable EPC Band C is between £12,300 and £18,900 which according to the survey, presents another barrier to reducing emissions.

More than two thirds (68%) of rural respondents said £2,500 was the maximum amount they would be willing to spend on energy efficiency upgrades, with over a third (35%) of those unwilling to spend anything at all.

To help overcome these challenges, the liquid fuel heating industry is working to bring to market a new renewable liquid fuel as near drop in replacement for heating oil.

Trials are already underway in homes across the UK of a new fuel called HVO. Produced from fossil free waste materials and certified as sustainable, HVO could deliver greater carbon savings than heat pumps in the short to medium term at a fraction of the upfront cost. With the survey showing the government’s current plans are unlikely to succeed due to the high costs involved, it is essential that rural households are given a choice of affordable, simple to implement low carbon heating solutions and HVO must be included.

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