Aerial view of typical urban UK homes

Are UK homes fit for zero-carbon?

The heating and hot water systems in many UK homes are not appropriate for zero-carbon technologies, and aren’t covered adequately by the government’s current strategy and policy work, says HHIC.

The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council is urging the government to consider their suitability to transition to net zero if the UK is to meet its emissions targets. Its White Paper, Heating up to Net Zero, outlines where improvements need to be made and how different domestic systems can be aligned with the country’s long-term goals. The White Paper seeks to clarify what the challenges are, as well as what is required for them to be overcome.

HHIC director Stewart Clements says: “A mix of low-carbon technology along with lower-temperature heating systems will be required to meet the government’s target by 2050. As most replacement heating appliances are due to a distressed purchase, there is a tendency for the rest of the system to be forgotten.

“Homeowners need support to ensure they can plan and upgrade their heating and hot water systems. This will ultimately come down to government initiatives, which is where the White Paper aims to provide a framework for formulating new policy.”

One of the key examples given in is that many homeowners are currently removing hot water cylinders. However, these are needed to supply hot water if a low-temperature heat generator, such as a heat pump, is to be fitted in the future. Replacing old cylinders with better insulated and controlled models, that incorporate high-recovery heat exchangers and are suitable for low-temperature/low-carbon systems, should be incentivised through a simple-to-understand government scheme.

From a practical perspective, mandating system balancing of the heating system, as highlighted in the Boiler Plus review, can be achieved by fitting flow-controlled TRVs. System balancing will become an important part of the commissioning process for low-temperature systems, says HHIC.

The council also draws attention to the critical role of training in the success of delivering low-carbon heating and hot water solutions.

Heating up to Net Zero was researched and written by members of HHIC, the Hot Water Association (HWA) and the Manufacturers Association of Radiators and Convectors (MARC).

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