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Rural households could face huge costs to reduce emissions, says OFTEC

Dec 3, 2019, 16:15 PM by OFTEC
Rural households across the UK may face average costs of around £20,000 each to fund new ‘green’ heating systems, under plans being considered by government.

Following advice from its official climate change advisor, government has signaled its intention to phase out the installation of fossil fuel heating systems during the 2020s, starting in homes off the gas grid and new builds.

Many fear this would force oil heating households and LPG users to buy expensive electric heating systems called heat pumps instead, which cost between £8,000-£20,000 to install*.

While heat pumps work very efficiently in well-insulated homes, many rural properties are among the least energy efficient in Britain. This means that as well as funding expensive heat pumps, many rural families will also have to spend thousands more pounds on insulation measures. This could push the total bill for the oldest, least efficient properties over £40,000 and cost the UK’s rural households around £30.6 billion in total.

OFTEC, the trade association for the liquid fuel heating industry, says such a move could force many rural households into debt or mean they refuse to take action, potentially stalling the climate change action which is urgently needed. The approach is particularly nonsensical when cheaper, more practical options, such as replacing fossil fuels with sustainable low carbon liquid biofuels, are being developed for these homes.
With the election date looming, OFTEC is urging rural voters to look carefully at party proposals for decarbonising home heating as unless these are accompanied by a commitment to make billions of pounds in support available, individual homeowners will likely pick up the bill.

OFTEC CEO Paul Rose, comments: "We firmly support plans to decarbonise home heating but government’s current thinking is concerning. While policy decisions have yet to be made, heat pumps are the indicated preference - but this could cause major problems for cash-strapped rural households.

"Over 95% of oil heated homes in Great Britain fall into EPC bands D to G – meaning they are poorly insulated and so unsuited for heat pumps without costly insulation work.
"Financial support to help the poorest families switch heating systems would most likely be made available but many households will be expected to fund the work themselves. The vast majority just won’t be able to do this.

"Our industry is working on a sustainable low carbon liquid fuel solution which will offer a far more practical solution which we think homeowners would embrace, due to much lower costs and minimal disruption to their properties. Yet so far, government has given this route little consideration.

"Introducing policy which isn’t fit for purpose could have severe consequences. The impact on consumers must be central to discussions on the future of heating, and cost and disruption minimised if support for climate change action is to be forthcoming. This is why we are urging rural voters to make sure they ask the right questions before casting their vote."

*Energy Savings Trust

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Notes to editors:
  1. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) bands are an indication of the energy efficiency of a building on a scale of A to G, with G being the least efficient. From 1st April 2018 all rented properties must have a minimum EPC of E and the Government has a target of lifting all homes to EPC C by 2035.
  2. Heat pumps are an electric heating system. The degree to which they can be considered low carbon depends partly on the electricity they use. At present only around half the UK's electricity comes from low carbon generation sources.
  3. OFTEC is the trade and marketing body for the liquid fuel heating and cooking industry in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Visit www.oftec.org.
  4. Approximately one million households in Great Britain use oil for heating. It is estimated that a further 250,000 commercial oil boilers are installed in premises such as schools, warehouses and hospitals in off mains gas areas.
  5. As a trade association, OFTEC represents manufacturers of oil-fired equipment such as boilers, cookers and oil storage tanks. OFTEC also offers technical advice to professionals and consumers and through OFTEC Direct, a product catalogue and online shop, it sells ancillary equipment to heating technicians.
  6. OFTEC Registration Services manages OFTEC's Government licenced Competent Person's Scheme which registers competent heating technicians. The role also includes setting assessments for technicians, derived from OFTEC technical books, which are conducted at OFTEC member training centres.
  7. OFTEC also represents the industry to Governments in the UK and Ireland and to the European Commission. It is lobbying for the retention of oil heating including hybrid systems and those that use bio-liquids which are the 'green' alternative fuels for the future.

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