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Citizens Advice Response to the BEIS call for evidence: a Future Framework for Heat in Buildings

30 June 2018

Citizens Advice Response to the BEIS’s call for evidence on the Future Framework for Heat in Buildings - full response [ 280 kb]

We highlight that it is in consumers interests that the UK’s long term decarbonisation targets are met at least cost. We take guidance from the government’s independent statutory advisor, the Committee on Climate Change, on which heating technologies should be prioritised to keep costs down during the low-carbon transition.

The CCC has outlined five principles which would increase the implementation of low-carbon heat, which Citizens Advice would broadly endorse. They are:

  • A stable framework and direction of travel, backed up by standards for the emissions performance of buildings that would tighten over time.

  • A joined-up approach to energy efficiency and low-carbon heat that works across the building stock, and focuses on real-world performance where possible.

  • Simple, highly-visible information and certification alongside installer training to ensure that low-carbon options are understood by consumers and that installers are effective and trusted.

  • A well-timed offer to households and SMEs that is aligned to ‘trigger points’, such as house moves, when refurbishment is least disruptive.

  • Consistent price signals that clearly encourage affordable, low-carbon choices.

The call for evidence focuses on how to decarbonise heat to off-gas-grid buildings. Echoing the CCC, we argue that rolling out heat pumps to these properties represents a low-regret option until we better understand the feasibility and comparative costs of using hydrogen to heat homes that are connected to the gas grid (e.g. through pilot projects, etc).

We note, however, that there are both cost and behavioural barriers to the uptake of heat pumps. Successful roll out will therefore require continued subsidy until the the technology is more mature. Furthermore, systems which can provide hot water and rapid space heating, such as high-temperature or hybrid heat pumps will also be easier for consumers to adapt to. In addition, research previously commissioned by Citizens Advice on overcoming behavioural barriers to the uptake of energy efficiency is also relevant to enhancing consumers uptake of heat pumps and other renewable heat technologies.