Few tears will be shed that 2020 is coming to an end, but in a year where many of us were resigned to staying at home and thereby using more resources, the need for low-cost heating became pivotal. Luckily there were some milestone announcements for our heating within 2020, which could have a long-lasting impact on how we heat our homes.
The Green Homes Grant
The Green Homes Grant is a landmark scheme that received almost unanimous praise upon its launch in September 2020. The grant lets homeowners in England apply for vouchers up to £5,000 (or £10,000 for low-income homes) to install heat pumps, new insulation and other improvements to improve energy efficiency.
It’s not been without its critics though. Part of the reason the scheme was extended until March 2022 was because of fears projects wouldn’t be completed on time, and because homeowners were unable to get quotes from tradespeople who lived in their counties. But the concept is well-conceived; with a few tweaks it could leave a transformative legacy.
Hydrogen Boiler Research Heats Up
The excitement for hydrogen boilers is growing. You might say they’re the iPhone 13 of the heating world. The year began with Worcester Bosch launching its hydrogen boiler prototype, and by October it was undergoing its first field trial. Plus, Baxi Heating’s prototype has been tested in two projects this year (Hy4Heat and HyDeploy).
Hydrogen boilers represent a brave new world for heating our homes. Hydrogen is a highly-efficient fuel which could be introduced into the mains gas grid, and with 85% of homes in England using natural gas, hydrogen could have a huge role to play in the UK’s low-carbon future.
The government has too pledged its support for hydrogen heating (more on that next), and the transition to market may be sooner than expected - Downing Street is targeting a hydrogen neighbourhood by 2023.
What’s more, those with a hydrogen-ready boiler such as Bosch’s or Baxi’s will experience a smooth transition because it can convert from natural gas to hydrogen without the need for an entirely new heating system.
The Green Industrial Revolution
Boris Johnson launched a 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution in November, and it included some eye-catching pledges. There will be 600,000 heat pumps installed every year by 2028, and £240 million of funding will go into new hydrogen production facilities - both bold statements of intent.
The heat pump pledge is particularly ambitious, especially when you consider that only 27,000 are currently being installed each year. Moreover, the government’s homebuilding target of 300,000 new homes each year could be complicated by its decision to ban gas-only boilers from all new homes by 2025 - this could pose a significant supply issue. More details are clearly needed, but the rollout will be a positive more for a greener future.
Energy White Paper
Everyone wants to save money on their energy bills, and December’s Energy White Paper plans to make that easier than ever before.
The wide-ranging document pledges to make the energy retail market more competitive, to help the UK transition to net zero, and to introduce a £240m net-zero Hydrogen Fund to help kick-start hydrogen heating. There will also be a major programme for the retrofitting of homes, although details were sparse on this.
Ultimately, this is a vast blueprint to reducing carbon emissions and helping homeowners.
Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms.
He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.
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