The future of rural heating?

With a target to meet net zero by 2050, the Government has developed a range of policy solutions which focus on the heating of our homes.

Government set ambitious targets of 600,000 installations of heat pumps per year by 2028. 

However, the BBC recently reported that ‘A flagship government plan to make household heating more planet-friendly has had a weak start in its first year.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme gives out £5,000 grants to help households switch to heat pumps, which can produce fewer emissions than gas boilers.

It is meant to issue 30,000 grants annually in England and Wales but only managed half that in its first year.  Experts blamed a lack of installers and the cost of preparing homes so that they are ready for a heat pump.’

It continues, ‘The UK's Climate Change Committee (UKCCC) highlighted high heat pump cost, the low number of trained heat pump installers and the lack of energy efficiency measures like insulation, which help to improve heat pump efficiency, as the main reasons for low installation.’

Read more about these stories at these links:

- The truth about heat pumps and the power needed to run them
- Government heat pump scheme misses first year target

So why is this so important, and how does it impact rural communities?

Well, the Government currently has an ambition to ban sales of new gas boilers from 2035, with those properties currently off the gas grid, being unable to access fossil fuel heating from 2026.  In 2021, one in 4 properties were off the gas grid which could leave a large % of rural residents needing to find alternative sources of heat in the coming years.

Heat pumps are an efficient way to heat your home, provided your home is energy efficient, and there are a high number of energy inefficient properties in rural areas.  In addition, it may be more difficult for them to install energy efficiency measures if properties are in National Parks or are listed meaning that the heat pump won’t work as effectively. 

The Government has schemes to help householders with the cost of installing a heat pump, but this won’t take into account the energy efficiency measures that may be needed.

The Rural Services Network is concerned that Government proposals treat rural communities unfairly exposing them to much higher installation costs.

There are also concerns about the resilience of the electricity network, and whether it will be sufficient in rural areas to cope with the added demands placed on it with a move towards electrical heating systems, and electric vehicles.

You can read more about the approach OFTEC is promoting in the member article available at this link


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