Martyn Bridges, Director of Technical Communication and Product Management at Worcester Bosch, discusses a Government financial initiative designed to tackle decarbonisation.
Ahead of the release of the Green Finance Strategy, the Government announced that there is a new £5m fund to help the financial sector develop green home finance products. This includes green mortgages, where customers are rewarded with lower mortgage rates once they have upgraded the energy rating of their home. This is a great step toward the UK’s new demanding target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Alongside this, the Government announced that there is a further £10bn fund available to companies who provide innovative ideas on retrofitting homes with energy saving measures. Whilst these initiatives show an awareness on the importance of tackling the UK’s impact on the planet, what isn’t so certain is the willingness of the public to allow these changes to encroach upon their homes.
Over 17 million homes in the UK have an EPC below Band C, while around 80% of the homes we will be occupying in 2050 already exist. This means that in order to reach these new targets, it is crucial that current homes in the UK become more energy efficient. Retrofitting boilers could help take strides towards reducing the overall carbon footprint of the UK and take us one step closer to the new net zero goal. It’s therefore critical to the success of this initiative that homeowners in the UK are willing to embrace this change.
Similar exercises have been made in the past, such as the process of fitting condensing boilers into the same place and the footprint of standard efficiency boilers some 15 years ago. This resulted in quite a challenge as there are significant differences in the internal componentry of a condensing boiler compared to a standard efficiency one. These designs allowed the pipework connections to be in the same rotation and the flue diameter to remain the same, thus the original flue hole in the wall could be used. The only additional pipework requirement was for the condensate discharge pipe.
Although these similarities are useful and time-saving, getting the public on board will require hard work. Many of the measures outlined in this new plan are already available to homeowners, but the disruption to their day-to-day life often deters them from making the change. This disruption prevented many from getting free loft insulation some years ago, with the thought of emptying out their loft likely to be more hassle than a freebie was worth. Some providers were even offering to empty the loft for the householder, insulate it and then put the belongings back, but even the take-up for this was very limited. The concerns raised here are that this will happen again.
Fitting a new boiler may not be as intrusive as floor and wall insulation, but the nation already feels as though there’s not enough time in the day. Who is going to be willing to give up some of their precious spare time to change boilers? Whilst it may be possible to broadcast the benefits of becoming energy efficient to homeowners, getting people to act on it is a different story.
A suitable solution?
With the hassle involved, it seems that the most suitable technology for our carbon targets is hydrogen. Like renewable generated electricity, hydrogen is a clean energy carrier. Hydrogen will enable high temperature boilers to be installed, eliminating the barrier of getting householders to revamp their house. It’s a great energy carrier that needs to be utilised in order to achieve our net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The targets set by the UK may be tough, but if homeowners are able to see how retrofitting their homes will be an advantage to them in the long run, this initiative could be what the country needs to meet the new greenhouse gas targets. The only way to make our homes fit for the future is to make the most out of Government initiatives and work together to create a more energy efficient society.