Almost three quarters of people are interested in low carbon hybrid heating – but comfort and reliability are ‘must haves’, new research shows.
The results are from more than 1,000 survey responses gathered by electricity network operator UK Power Networks and gas network Wales & West Utilities as part of their HyCompact project. The trial which runs until March 2022, is researching consumers’ attitudes and live testing low carbon hybrid heating systems in UK homes. Hybrid heating systems work by switching between gas and electricity to guarantee lowest cost and carbon emissions.
The research also suggests people will only buy low carbon heating systems if they are cheaper, more reliable, or easier to install than conventional systems. It found 72% of respondents say hybrid heating systems are either moderately or very appealing. However, the most popular reasons for switching are comfort and reliability (both 96%), plus cheaper running costs and ease of use (both 94%).
The vast majority (85%) said they are satisfied with their current gas system, while around four in five would only consider switching if their current boiler stops working. If a breakdown happened, just over 80% would be interested in hybrid heating if it was less disruptive than installing a new gas boiler, underlining the need for low carbon systems to improve on products already on the market.
Lowering carbon emissions from heat is vital if the UK is to achieve Net Zero emissions targets and avert the climate crisis. Currently 85% of UK homes are supplied by natural gas for heating and cooking, with conventional gas boilers burning gas and producing emissions from each home. Another four million properties are ‘off-gas grid’ and use fossil fuels for heating and cooking. Heat accounts for around a third of all UK emissions.
HyCompact trial participant Steve Keating, who works as energy manager at Pembrokeshire County Council said: “Net Zero can’t be achieved by ignoring it, we all need to take ownership of it so it feels really good to be part of something that’s aiming towards that end goal of Net Zero.”
Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “These insights are a powerful reminder we’ve got to put customers first in the transition to Net Zero emissions. We need to invest in our network, make it easy for people and deliver an exceptional customer experience so people see real benefits when they switch to low carbon heating. A one-size fits all approach just isn’t going to work, and that’s why we’re partnering with Wales & West Utilities to explore the issue as widely as possible.”
Sarah Williams, director of regulation and asset strategy at Wales & West Utilities said: “This research sets out the scale of the challenge we face in the energy sector to decarbonise heat in a way that is affordable, reliable – and customer focussed. It demonstrates clearly that any future energy solution must meet the needs of customers: keeping disruption to homes to a minimum and delivering the high levels of comfort and reliability they are used to.
“Alongside green gases like hydrogen and biomethane, we think that hybrid heating will be a vital tool to help decarbonise heat, and we’re looking forward to hearing more from customers on their experiences.”
A total of 1,099 homeowners from a range of demographics, locations and property types with gas central heating responded to the survey. Learn more about heat decarbonisation at: https://bit.ly/3bzV410 and wwutilities.co.uk/futureofenergy