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OFTEC calls on government to re-think carbon strategy

OFTEC’s recommendations to government for a new, more workable approach to low carbon heat include a funded boiler replacement programme to encourage consumers to upgrade to modern condensing models. For an average four bedroom home, the move could reduce annual fuel consumption by up to 24% (- 784 litres pa) and cut CO2 emissions by 33% (- 2418 kg p a). With over 600,000 standard efficiency boilers still in use across Great Britain, the potential for carbon reduction via this simple, cost effective route is huge.

OFTEC has submitted recommendations to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee calling for a total re-think on the UK’s low carbon heat strategy to instead focus on incentivising solutions that are simple, affordable to install, impose limited disruption on the home owner and offer competitive running costs.

In the document, provided in response to an inquiry about home energy efficiency and demand reduction, OFTEC highlighted that the 100% renewable heating solutions pushed by government can provide a very real and workable solution for some properties such as new builds, and will undoubtedly play a role in the UK’s future heating mix. However, it says that in reality these technologies are currently too expensive and impractical for the vast majority of UK households to consider installing.

OFTEC director general Jeremy Hawksley said: “OFTEC is committed to working towards a low carbon future for heating and recognises that 100% renewable technologies can work very well in some properties.  This is why we have introduced our renewable registrations to help technicians expand their businesses into the green sector and ensure they can advise customers on the full range of heating solutions available to provide the right solution each time.”

He added: “However, the poor energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock, particularly older, rural, off grid homes, plus the high upfront cost of renewable technologies of between £9,000 and £17,000, means the majority of UK households just aren’t in the position to make this large leap towards wholly renewable heating, even with incentive payments. A change of approach is clearly needed.”

Cost will remain a key driving factor for most people and the current low price of oil makes switching to expensive renewables even less attractive for many off gas grid households. According to latest figures from the Sutherland Tables*, the annual cost of heating an average three bedroom home on oil is now just £793 compared to £1,453 with an air source heat pump.

OFTEC’s recommendations to government for a new, more workable approach to low carbon heat include a funded boiler replacement programme to encourage consumers to upgrade to modern condensing models. For an average four bedroom home, the move could reduce annual fuel consumption by up to 24% (- 784 litres pa) and cut CO2 emissions by 33% (- 2418 kg p a). With over 600,000 standard efficiency boilers still in use across Great Britain, the potential for carbon reduction via this simple, cost effective route is huge.

OFTEC also suggests the promotion of bio-liquids as a low carbon alternative to oil. Following successful trials of B30k – a blend of 30% FAME and 70% kerosene – OFTEC believes all current oil using homes could convert to the bio-fuel with minimal disruption as it can used to power existing boilers, and at a much lower cost than the 100% renewable technologies currently favoured by government.

3 December 2015

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