How insulation and heat pumps could reduce the UK’s – and other countries’ – need for Russian gas [Update]
As the global energy crisis worsens, thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a new analysis from the non-profit think tank Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) examines how insulating homes and heat pumps could reduce the UK’s need for Russian gas. The approach could certainly be applied in other countries as well.
March 23 update: Following a scheme announced in October 2021, the UK government today announced that from April it will provide £5,000 – which would cover between 75% and 50% of the cost – to households to install air-source heat pumps.
It also announced that it would provide £6,000 – which would cover between 50% and 30% of the cost of the units respectively – for geothermal heat pumps or water source heat pumps. However, the installation cost could be much higher.
The government has earmarked £450m to install up to 90,000 boilers in England and Wales. For perspective, there were around 27.8 million households in the UK in 2020 (including Northern Ireland and Scotland).
This therefore represents 0.3% of households in the UK that will benefit from subsidized heat pumps. Hmmm.
VAT will also be abolished on heat pumps for five years.
You can find more information about the boiler upgrade program here.
March 8, Electrek highlighted an article by environmentalist and author, Bill McKibben, in which he called on the United States to build heat pumps and send them to Europe to help Europe reduce its reliance on fuels Russian fossils.
Similarly, the ECIU also highlights what it calls “common sense solutions that risk being overlooked.” That means:
The simplest solution is to use less gas – through better energy efficiency, such as insulation, and moving away from gas altogether, such as switching to heat pumps for homes and renewables for heating. electricity production.
Homes in the UK are given energy performance ratings, with A being the best and G the worst.
Regarding insulation, the ECIU backtracks on its previous analysis, in which it planned to “improve 1 million homes each year compared to the current average [energy performance certificate] D-band rating to C-band government ambition – this gives an average gas demand reduction of 20% per household.
He rightly reminds us that insulation savings are permanent:
The cumulative savings over the years quickly become enormous – in 12 years we would have saved a year’s worth of current house gas demand.
And a study by the Committee on Climate Change points out that “63% of households do not need to spend more than £1,000 to retrofit energy efficiency measures”.
The UK government has set a target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, up from around 67,000 in 2021. The ECIU writes:
Heat pumps for heating and hot water eliminate end-use gas consumption entirely and will cost £260 a year less to operate than gas boilers under the April price cap. These cost savings are due to the high efficiency of heat pumps and their use of electricity which is increasingly produced by inexpensive offshore wind farms in the North Sea.
Our model suggests that an average C-Band home would see an 80% reduction in gas consumption at present – it’s not 100% because the current grid mix includes around 40% gas generation. gas power, which is included taking into account the efficiency of gas power plants, gas boilers and heat pumps.
And if insulation and heat pumps are combined in homes, “the UK could reduce gas demand by the equivalent of its imports from Russia as early as 2027”.
Bottom line, the ECIU points out that more gas will not reduce energy bills. And Electrek agrees with his summary:
More insulation and heat pumps will reduce bills, but are now also a matter of national security. They can be installed to begin immediately to reduce demand and imports and a concerted deployment campaign would see these savings become a major contribution to ending our dependence on gas, reducing Putin’s power and making our households more vulnerable. the poorest faced with the volatility of the gas market.
This is a UK based study for the UK, but this model should be adopted by any country looking to get rid of Russian gas, or even gas only. Heck, everyone should be out of gas. (USA, we’re looking at you.) Insulation isn’t sexy, but it’s a no-brainer.
The ECIU plan reduces energy costs for homeowners. It reduces emissions. This increases national security. It makes homes warmer. It is a sustainable plan on many fronts.
I’m about to buy a house in Vermont and will be taking steps to install a heat pump to get rid of my existing propane heating system, as well as add insulation if needed. I will come back to how this process unfolds.
Read more: How US-made heat pumps could help weaken Russia’s power over Europe
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