Rural households can’t afford net-zero plans

29th April 2021 | Residential Energy

Nine in 10 (93%) rural off-grid households would not be able to afford the estimated average cost of a heat pump system, according to a new poll. The survey by Liquid Gas UK (LGUK), the trade association for the LPG and bioLPG industry in the UK, found that over a quarter (28%) of rural households living off the gas grid have said that they would not be able to afford a new heating system at any price if forced to install one to meet net-zero emissions targets.

The research, conducted by Opinium, found that a further third (34%) said that they can’t afford to pay more than £4,000 to help pay for a new low carbon heating system in the form of a heat pump, with only 12% saying that they would be prepared to pay more than £6,000. The cost of a new heat pump alone can range between approximately £11K -£18K well beyond the reach of most people living off-grid in rural areas. The price could even end up being more in some cases as this does not include the cost of making other adaptations to the house to ensure it works properly.

According to LGUK, the poll is a blow to the government’s new ambition to cut CO2 emissions by 78% of 1990 levels by 2035. 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from heating buildings making tackling heating essential to any decarbonisation strategy.
‘It is clear that if the government is serious about meeting its ambition to cut 78% of CO2 emissions by 2035, it must drop it’s one size fits all approach to decarbonising heating and begin to take seriously the views of rural homeowners and adopt policies that reflects the specific nature of homes in rural areas,’ said LGUK chief executive, George Webb.

‘Many off-grid homeowners simply can’t afford a heat pump and even if they could, electrification alone will not be the answer to every home. Many off-grid properties are old and would require heavily, and expensively, insulating homes in order for a heat pump to be effective and deliver the level of heating required.

‘Indeed, the only clear route to decarbonisation is a mixed approach and while heat pumps will have an important role to play, so too will LPG and bioLPG which heat homes to a consistently warm level, irrespective of building fabric type. LPG emits 33% less carbon emissions than coal and up to 20% less than oil, while bioLPG emits up to 90% less carbon emissions than LPG.’

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Rural households can’t afford net-zero plans