Not enough is being done to encourage and help homeowners switch to more energy efficient and cheaper forms of heating, despite rising fuel bills and the supposed governmental commitment to alternative energy sources, according to a new report released this week.
The Renewable Heat Report from renewable heating experts Innasol and analyst group Frost & Sullivan shows widespread lack of awareness and even suspicion of the costs involved of switching to renewable heating solutions, despite massive savings on energy bills and an upcoming Government scheme to help with installation costs.
The Government launched its Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme in 2011 starting off with non-domestic installations. It is due to be extended this spring to domestic households for the first time. Domestic customers will be able to take advantage of grants to install renewable heating systems, which could save home owners more than 45% on their heating bills.
But the report’s author state that the scheme doesn’t go far enough, allowing only a tiny number of UK homeowners to convert to renewable heating solutions and calls on the Government to ‘put its money where its mouth is’ when it comes to promoting and helping the nation switch to more energy efficient and cheaper heating.
The report shows that heating is the largest part (78%) of UK consumer energy bills, while our homes are the least energy inefficient in modern Europe.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has predicted a 20% increase in gas prices before the end of the decade – equating to annual increases of 2.5 percent. However, real price increases have averaged 16% per year for the last decade leading to some renewable heating solutions now being cheaper than fossil fuels.
The report revealed that the main reason UK residents are missing out on the benefits of energy efficiency measures and renewable heating systems is due to a lack of awareness of the technologies available, a lack of understanding of their benefits and confusion about various government incentives.
Most respondents focus on relatively small measures such as energy efficient light bulbs and double glazing in their homes with very few having looked at switching to a renewable heating solution.
84% of UK residents don’t know that heat pumps are a renewable heating solution and almost three quarters (74%) of UK residents don’t know that biomass systems are a renewable heating solution.
A number of common myths emerged from the survey with some respondents believing that switching to renewables was expensive, they were difficult to install or even possibly bad for the environment.
Renewable heating is the fastest growth area within the already large UK renewable energy industry. However, DECC recently estimated that an additional 750,000 renewable heating systems need to be installed by 2020 to help the UK meet its 2020 carbon targets. The existing renewable heat government incentive for businesses and new incentive for home owners due to be launched in the Spring should help in reaching this target, although experts say much more needs to be done to raise the awareness of renewable heating solutions so the economic and environmental benefits are fully understood by homeowners and businesses alike.