Fossil fuel heating phase out

CLA Policy Adviser for Property and Business Hermione Warmington blogs on phasing out fossil fuel heating in off-gas grid homes and buildings

In October last year, BEIS published two consultations which proposed to phase out fossil fuel heating in homes from 2026, and in non-domestic buildings from 2024, using a ‘heat pump first approach’, working with the natural boiler replacement cycle. On 12 January, we submitted our responses, which can be found here (domestic) and found here (non-domestic).

Although we are fully supportive of the aim to decarbonise heat in buildings, in our responses, we argue that 2024 and 2026 is too soon to mandate a transition to low-carbon heating in rural homes and buildings, given it is almost a decade sooner than urban homes and buildings will be required to transition. This highly unconventional ‘high-hanging fruit’ approach would require a relatively small number of widely differing buildings to take on all the immediate risks of an immature low-carbon heating market. These risks include high capital costs, high running costs, lack of installers and a lack of skills and knowledge, especially for older buildings, and insufficiently tested reliability, all resulting in a lack of consumer confidence.

We propose a technology-neutral approach, rather than a ‘heat pump first’ approach, so that home and building owners have the flexibility to choose the most effective low-carbon heating option for them and their property. However, in recognition of the Government’s commitment to air source heat pumps, and the role which they will play in the future of heating, we have asked for funding to be made available for independent heat pump feasibility assessments.

We once again highlight the importance of changing the metric of a domestic Energy Performance Certificate from cost to carbon, as we argue that it is illogical, unfair, and unaffordable to require landlords and homeowners to install a low-carbon heating technology in their properties if it remains disproportionately expensive to install, costs more to run and scores badly on an EPC.

We also reiterate the importance of accurately assessing the thermal insulating capacity of older buildings, which requires the u-values of solid walls to be updated, alongside further improvements to SAP/RdSAP. This is particularly important when evaluating the feasibility of a heat pump in a traditional building.

If these issues impact you, please write to your MP, including your own examples and attaching a copy of the CLA’s consultation response.

For any comments or questions, please contact Hermione Warmington.