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Keeping warm: the future of heat

11 July 2019

Keeping warm: the future of heat [ 2.7 mb]

It is widely acknowledged that we need to begin to decarbonise the heat we use - but there is still no UK-wide strategy for how we will do it. Keeping warm [ 2.7 mb] sets out Citizens Advice’s road map for the future of heat, outlining the actions the government needs to take to ensure people are protected in the move to low-carbon energy.

Heating and hot water are responsible for 20% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Committee on Climate Change, there is a need to reduce these emissions by 20% by 2030 and almost entirely by 2050.

Decarbonising the way we heat our homes and businesses will represent a fundamental change for the vast majority. These changes will be intrusive. Some will require altering the fabric of buildings, interruptions to energy supplies and the widespread adoption of new technologies. Proposals include heat pumps to replace boilers, heating buildings through heat networks, and the introduction of hydrogen gas for heating.

It is currently unclear what steps to decarbonise heat will be taken when, how such a programme would be paid for and where those costs would fall.

We already see considerable evidence of problems faced by consumers on heat networks. Because they are not regulated, many more people risk being exposed to the same issues in future unless reforms are put in place.

Keeping warm highlights these issues and sets out measures the government needs to put in place by the end of 2019 and by 2022.

 By December 2019:

  • A consultation on a detailed heat decarbonisation strategy
  • Treasury to establish an independent commission to examine the implications for the low-carbon transition and how it should be paid for
  • A consultation on a fully costed plan to support the rollout of low-carbon heating systems.
  • Proposals in the forthcoming Energy White Paper to extend Ofgem’s powers to regulate heat networks and establish an independent consumer advocate for heat networks.
  • A consultation on clear pathway for energy efficiency support for all homes post-2022

By 2022:

  • Government policies for improving energy efficiency are implemented and functioning well.
  • Preparation for the low-carbon heat transition is underway and being implemented.
  • A review of gas network charging arrangements has been carried out by Ofgem to ensure they are fit for the future, in a similar manner to the ongoing electricity charging reviews.
  • A statutory consumer advocate for heat networks has been established.
  • Heat networks are regulated by Ofgem