The UK is lagging behind on heat pump installation compared with other European countries such as those in Scandinavia, according to the CEO of an energy company.
Keith Bastian, CEO of renewable home heating provider Fischer Future Heat, has said “1970s era of homebuilding has made it largely inefficient to now start mass heat pump conversion, given poor homebuilding choices around fabric heat loss”.
Bastian added: “It comes as no surprise that as a country, we are trying to not only become more efficient but to make more conscious decisions when it comes to the environment. As we continue to come out of the coronavirus pandemic, this has never been more prevalent.
“We have seen an increase in people switching to renewable energy providers, as well as swapping their outdated central heating radiators for electric alternatives. With that in mind, why is the UK still behind in adopting alternative methods of heating, such as heat pumps?”
To help support a greener future and to achieve the UK’s net-zero target, the government plans to introduce a green tax levy to energy bills. This will cut the price of electricity and increase the cost of gas in order to fund the switch to low-carbon alternatives.
But Bastian said that “currently, we sell and install fewer heat pumps than almost anywhere else in Europe, according to recent data and research”.
“Eighty-five per cent of homes are heated via natural gas, and although experts agree that most will need to be converted to a heat pump, they are more expensive than gas boilers. Many homeowners are keen to support a greener future, but they simply cannot afford to do so, which is why the green tax levy is so important.
“But to go green, the UK faces a huge infrastructure challenge. The problem homebuilders and government bodies are facing is the way we have historically built our homes. The 1970s era of homebuilding ignored fabric heat loss, as gas was cheap, which led to the installation of gas central heating. This building approach has put us at a big disadvantage to install heat pumps, as they are simply not suitable to retrofit into most UK homes. A house that is poorly insulated will require a larger heat pump to make up for heat loss, and this could cost more money to install and to run, raising vital questions about who will foot the bill."
Bastian said air source heat pumps are becoming “increasingly popular across Europe, particularly in the likes of Norway and Sweden”.
Unlike Britain, he added, countries such as Sweden and Norway have adapted their properties to use heat pump technologies, alongside government policies that have encouraged their installation. Bastian concluded: “However, their homes are far better insulated. According to the European Heat Pump Association, Norway has the highest number of heat pumps per capita, with Sweden not too far behind with 1.9 million – two rather impressive statistics.”
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