Government risks losing public support for low-carbon heating, MPs warn

4th February 2022

One of the “greatest shortfalls” of the UK government's Heat and Buildings Strategy is that it fails to outline an adequate plan for raising public awareness on the importance of low-carbon heating, MPs have warned.

In a new report, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee explains how consumer engagement and awareness on decarbonisation of domestic heat is “low”, and argues that the government's commitment to “review and improve communications” does not go far enough.

If people are not aware that a change needs to be made in their home and for what purpose, the MPs argue that the government will fail to deliver low-carbon domestic heat by 2050 through slower uptake and loss of public support.

They call on ministers to come forward with a public awareness campaign to explain how heating systems in homes will change, and the potential costs and benefits of the transition.

This comes in the same week it was announced that energy bills could rise by over 50% in April due to a record-breaking increase on price caps.

Darren Jones, chair of the BEIS committee, said: “Bill payers today are deeply worried about their energy costs, with many people struggling to afford to heat their homes. Most people don’t realise that their gas boiler will need to be replaced within the next 10 to 15 years.

“The government and energy companies should explain to bill payers why switching away from gas and insulating our homes is not only important in tackling climate change, but also a route to reducing energy bills.

“The government also needs to spell out what financial help will be put in place for those who need it most. As the government decides on financial help for customers with the cost of their energy bills, they must also come forward with a replacement for the Green Homes Grant.”

The report also explains how the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy does not set out how heat decarbonisation targets will be met, and what contingencies are in place if goals are missed.

It calls on ministers to bring forward a heat decarbonisation sector deal to help develop low-carbon heating technologies, scale up the heat pump market to meet the government’s target of 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, and support gas boiler engineers who will need to re-skill.

“Decarbonising heat in our homes will require engineers who know how to install low-carbon heating systems in every community across the country,” Jones continued.

“The government should work with industry and trade unions to support a low-carbon heating apprenticeship programme, and ensure existing workers get access to re-skilling courses that will support their transition to the new green jobs of the future.”

Image credit: iStock

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