Why renewable energy in home

As part of our series of new articles we are asking industry professionals to comment on opportunities and obstacles on the path to ‘net zero’.  For our first comment, the Heat Pump Federation’s Bean Beanland explains why it is important to start decarbonising at home.

Most people now accept that the global climate is changing and countries around the world are gradually trying to reduce the causes and mitigate the impact of these changes.  The evidence most visible today in the UK is in the greater extremes of weather we are seeing: more violent storms, heavy rain, flash-flooding, hotter summers and wetter winters.  But what can we do ourselves at home, and why should we do it?

The UK was the first and one of the greatest beneficiaries of the industrial revolution and so led the way in the burning of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas to produce energy to drive industry and transport, and to light and heat our homes. It is our responsibility to lead again to show the world how we can reduce the carbon dioxide we produce and how we can mitigate the impacts of climate change.

According to annual government data, Energy Consumption in the UK (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/energy-consumption-in-the-uk), in 2019, 81.5% of our total household energy is used for heating and hot water.  So for most of us, it is by changing how we heat our houses and hot water that we can make the single biggest impact in reducing our carbon footprint.

Over the course of 2020, for the first time renewable energy was the main source of the UK’s electricity, overtaking the combined contributions of gas, coal and other fossil fuels.  In fact coal-fired power stations have been almost eliminated.  Electricity is now the energy source available in our homes with the lowest carbon content and is continually being decarbonised further.

Putting all this together, if you want to reduce the carbon footprint of your household, the clear choice should be to change your heating/hot water system to electricity and, more than this, use a heat pump to multiply the benefit of this change.  This will minimise your carbon footprint immediately, and by 2050 (the Government’s target for net-zero) when the grid is planned to be completely decarbonised, your house will also be net zero.  It will have the further benefit on operating costs as the tax burdens shift from electricity to gas and other fossil fuels.

Bean Beanland, Heat Pump Federation