Published 22nd March 2022
4 Steps to Net Zero for the UK Housing Sector –
4: Decarbonisation of Heating
This is the fourth and final in a series of four insightful, evidence-based articles focused on steps to achieving Net Zero for the UK property sector.
As a world-leading geospatial technology company and creator of the country’s most advanced dataset on residential carbon emissions, we at Kamma have charted the journey to Net Zero in 2050 by identifying a 4-step framework:
Describing and dissecting the path to Property Zero in four steps does more than illuminate it, provides a framework through which to assess government policy and the impact on industry, as well as advising and incentivising businesses and individuals to make environmentally informed decisions.
More importantly, it shows that it’s possible, with both public and private sector financing channelled at pace and scale towards a true green economy.
Download our full report or view an engaging, interactive data site here:
How Does Decarbonisation of Heating Bring us Closer to Net Zero
Heating is the single biggest contributor to housing emissions, yet it is also the area which has seen the least progress since the 1990s, so tackling it effectively is key to achieving Net Zero by 2050. This step refers to decreasing carbon emissions produced by heating systems by switching to low or no carbon alternatives.
While this is the final step, it is more than just the cherry on the cake: the size of the challenge should not be underestimated. The domination of fossil fuels in heating systems, the poor insulation and heat retention of homes throughout the country, and the costs and incentives associated with upgrading all make it a complex problem to solve. Moreover, the solution to ‘electrify’ heating only achieves Net Zero emissions if the electricity itself is green. This is why it’s the last step in Kamma’s four step pathway.
Reducing our reliance on fossil fuel heating systems does more than achieve Property Zero. Combining heat pumps with fabric first upgrades that improve energy efficiency will ensure heat is retained, saving money as well as emissions.
The government target is for 19 million heat pumps to be installed, supported by heat networks supplying 18% of heating, all powered through a Net Zero national grid, all by 2050. Our research indicates that, should all this be achieved, the carbon footprint of UK residential property will be reduced by 55%, saving 45.1mt of emissions.
Funding the decarbonisation of electricity
Considering the government’s Net Zero framework and the legislative pipeline, Kamma agrees that a bottom-up approach will be most effective initially, rather than an overhaul of the natural gas network that provides our homes with energy.
The government objective is not to offer a financial incentive to every homeowner in the country, but to incentivise the market to bring down the cost of heat pumps by 25-50% by 2025. In the meantime, £5,000 heat pump grants will ensure homeowners won’t pay more for a heat pump than a gas boiler from April 2022. However, for homeowners it may feel counter-productive to purchase and install a heat pump now if the price is set to decrease substantially in the coming years.
Indeed, with only 30,000 grants available per year against a target of 600,000 heat pumps installed per year, the hope may be that stimulating demand does enough to support industry to deliver the innovation at the scale and pace necessary to bring down the price without the need for larger, longer-term government spending.
Decarbonisation of Heating in the UK – Where are We Now?
The provision of heat currently contributes around 80% of UK residential property emissions, meaning it will require a huge effort from the government and the industry to decarbonise. Between 1990 and 2019, the net UK greenhouse gas emissions from heat and building decreased by 17%, however, it remains the largest contributor to climate change for the housing sector.
One challenge is the belief that the energy efficiency of homes must be improved before heat pumps can be installed. Around 40% of homes are already above EPC (EER) Band C, up from just 9% in 2008. However, this is contradicted by the situation in Europe where heat pumps have already reached mass adaptation. Heat pumps have proven popular in Northern European countries including Norway and Sweden, both of which have more than 1.4 million heat pumps installed according to the European Heat Pump Association, providing an effective heating solution in much colder climates.
One of the reasons behind the creation of Kamma’s 4-step pathway to Property Zero was to assess government policy and support industry in the rapid adoption of new market regulations, or the targeting of new opportunities. As the largest source of carbon emissions in the UK, tackling heating effectively will prove key to achieving Net Zero by 2050, displacing market norms across a number of industries. Lenders are being asked to better support their customers, landlords are expected to improve their properties and Housing Associations are tasked with providing for those at risk of fuel poverty as a priority.
As with all large challenges, breaking it up into smaller steps is a sensible way to tackle it. Starting with the most cost effective delivers immediate impact, but does leave the biggest challenges still to be overcome. In support of this final step we can look globally for inspiration. If we combined the decarbonised national grid of the UK with the rapid rollout of heat pumps seen on mainland Europe we’d be on target for Net Zero by 2050. Whilst Net Zero is a big challenge, taking these four steps will deliver the improvements needed to transform residential housing from one of the slowest to decarbonised, to complete carbon neutrality. Nations that are leading in different areas have much to learn from each other.
With our extensive reporting, we also hoped to create an easily consumed and understandable narrative to engage and mobilise the country toward Net Zero. Collectively, we can all be a part of this journey, and by raising the level of awareness and debate, we ensure a swifter and more efficient path to carbon neutrality for UK homes.
Contact us now to find out more about how Kamma can support your business’ drive to Property Zero.
At Kamma we care about cutting through the noise and giving you the latest news and updates on property licensing. Each month, we give you a full rundown of the latest scheme announcements and property licensing news in the Kamma Property Licensing Update. Total fines for letting agents and landlords in London have now surpassed […]Read article
Fuel poverty could hit 42% of Private Rented Sector households as it is expected to more than double in England. Unequal support across sectors has helped the social housing sector to more than halve fuel poverty (pre-crisis), the PRS by only a third. The UK government could reduce fuel poverty by 56.6%, if they spend their £9.1bn […]Read article
Total fines for letting agents and landlords in London have now surpassed £7.5 million for the first time ever. Not only are we seeing a big increase in fines handed out to landlords and agents, April has also been a record month for property licensing in the private rented sector with several new licensing schemes. […]Read article
At Kamma we care about cutting through the noise and giving you the latest news and updates on property licensing. Each month, we give you a full rundown of the latest scheme announcements and property licensing news in the Kamma Property Licensing Update. The start of the year has turned out to be a game […]Read article
Book a demo or get in touch
If you'd like to see the power of the Kamma platform in action, you can book a demo with us by simply clicking on the Book a Demo link at the top of the page.
Otherwise, email us at email@example.com or let us know your contact details using this form and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Sorry, but something went wrong. Please let us know and we'll do our best to fix it.
Thanks for sending us your message. You'll be hearing from us shortly.