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Study: Most Sustainable Residences Slash Energy Imports by Over 50%

Image Credit: Baxi

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has revealed a promising trend: a surge in 'energy patriots' is reshaping the UK's energy landscape, reducing dependency on imported fossil fuels by adopting cutting-edge clean technologies.

In a groundbreaking analysis, the ECIU highlights that households embracing electric heat pumps, insulation upgrades, and electric vehicles significantly slash their reliance on imported energy, consuming less than half compared to those reliant on traditional gas and petrol.

The study unveils striking statistics to illustrate this shift. A household reliant on a gas boiler and petrol car imports nearly 70 percent of its energy, approximately 17MWh annually. In contrast, a home insulated to Energy Performance Certificate grade C, equipped with a heat pump and electric vehicle, slashes energy imports by 45 percent, consuming around 7.5MWh per year.

Furthermore, households integrating solar panels can further diminish fossil fuel imports to a mere 6MWh, representing just a third of typical import levels.

The analysis also underscores the staggering dependency of homes utilizing diesel cars and oil boilers, with nearly 90 percent of their energy needs sourced from foreign imports.

"Those who want to be 'energy patriotic' and buy British homegrown energy should be switching from gas boilers and petrol cars to electric heat pumps and EVs that increasingly run on British wind and solar energy," said Jess Ralston, energy analyst at ECIU. "As North Sea oil and gas output continues its inevitable decline, the dependence on foreign imports for households using boilers and internal combustion cars will only become more stark.

"Generating more British renewable energy and using it to power heat pumps and electric cars would get households, and the UK as a whole, off energy imports and remove the risk of the kind of price volatility we've seen in recent years."

Amidst ongoing developments, the boiler industry finds itself under renewed scrutiny this week. It faces pressing inquiries regarding potential refunds for customers who bore the brunt of inflated boiler prices during the period marked by manufacturers imposing a 'boiler tax' to offset anticipated expenses linked to the Clean Heat Market Mechanism (CHMM).

In a controversial move, the government recently announced a postponement in the full rollout of the CHMM, a scheme aimed at penalizing boiler manufacturers failing to meet heat pump production targets. This decision, made last month, followed vigorous lobbying efforts from boiler manufacturers, citing concerns over escalating operational costs. In response, these manufacturers preemptively imposed a levy of approximately £120 on new boiler sales starting from the beginning of this year.

The postponement has raised pertinent questions regarding the fate of consumers who invested in new boilers during the initial three-month period of the year. Speculation regarding refunds has intensified, with Sky News reporting that three major players in the UK boiler market—Bosch, Vaillant, and BAXI—have committed to reimbursing retailers and distributors. However, uncertainty looms over whether these refunds will trickle down to the end-users who made the purchases earlier this year. The firms above have emphasized that the onus lies on retailers and distributors to ensure funds are duly passed on to customers.

ECIU has estimated the 'big four' could have generated £40m in additional revenues through the 'boiler tax.' "The manufacturers introduced the boiler tax, not the retailers, so it feels like they are passing the blame to a middle party," Ralston told Sky News. "They had been suggesting the fines should be removed, so they must have thought it was a possibility they'd have to refund the boiler tax - it doesn't seem they put in place any mechanisms for that eventuality, leaving someone else on the hook."

The foremost boiler manufacturers have clarified their stance, indicating that they generally lack direct interactions with end-users. Therefore, they assert that the responsibility for facilitating refunds lies primarily with retailers and distributors, who maintain direct consumer relationships.

In parallel with industry developments, Heating Trades Network UK, a prominent industry body, has embarked on a new initiative. Today, they unveiled a fresh campaign to collaborate with heating installers to enhance awareness of the advantages associated with heat pumps. According to the organization, heat pumps typically boast a lifespan double that of gas boilers and have the potential to slash heating expenses by up to 27 percent.

Louise Howlett, commercial director at R A Brown Heating, a member of the Heating Trades Network, said: 'Everyone knows we need to do more to make our homes energy efficient. But the information out there is often overly technical and confusing. The simple truth is, for most people, getting a heat pump would make their home warmer and cheaper to run. We want to bust some of the myths around new technology like heat pumps and help people save money."


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