A pilot heating scheme in the UK could pave the way for low-carbon heating solutions, such as hydrogen boilers, to revolutionise the heating industry.

Energy System Catapult’s Heat Plans involved homeowners buying hours of warmth (warm hours), rather than units of energy (kilowatt hours). 

As part of the scheme, 100 homes across the UK were fitted with smart heating systems, including low-carbon options, that provided room-by-room temperature control, as well as information on the thermal performance of the home and heating behaviour of the homeowner. 

The Heat Plans allowed the homeowners to schedule and budget for a specific number of warm hours, thanks to a fixed weekly or monthly price (based on thermal efficiency data and the number of hours of warmth required).

Energy Systems Catapult partnered with UK utilities Bristol Energy and Baxi Heating for the year-long pilot, trialling different payment systems based on the heating system used.

Around 85% of users responded positively when asked if they would consider a low-carbon alternative, providing they could be assured that their costs would be consistent and that they would be comfortable with the system. 

Energy Systems Catapult hopes that the accessibility and ease of the smart heating systems could increase willingness among the public to adopt smart and low-carbon heating solutions. 

Planning for the 2025 Boiler Changes

From 2025 it will be illegal to install a gas boiler in new builds, so a number of systems are being trialled to ease the transition from natural gas. 

Earlier this year, Worcester Bosch unveiled a prototype for their 100% hydrogen boiler, which is currently undergoing a large-scale trial in the UK. And the Remeha 100% hydrogen boiler recently scooped an international award for its sustainable method of heating homes and buildings.

Dr Matt Lipson, consumer insight business lead at Energy Systems Catapult, said of the pilot trial: “If people have the peace of mind that heat-as-a-service will deliver the comfort they want at a price they can afford, then when it comes time to replace their gas boiler, they will be more confident of switching to a low carbon heating system like a heat pump, district heat network or hydrogen boiler.”

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