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Consumers need ‘significant’ support to embrace sustainable heating – survey

·2 min read

Consumers will need “significant” support to meet the Government’s plans to decarbonise their homes, amid a lack of information and concerns about cost, a survey suggests.

Householders are eager to tackle climate change but more needs to be done to raise awareness of government plans and prepare UK households for the major changes they will need to make to their homes in the future, a survey by Which? found.

Two fifths of consumers (43%) said they were unaware of the need to move to low-carbon heating and plans to ban new gas boilers by the mid-2030s (40%).

Two-fifths (39%) are currently not comfortable changing over to low-carbon heating systems, the poll suggests.

While the majority of consumers (94%) are regularly taking steps to reduce their home heating consumption, just 6% have installed low-carbon heating systems so far.

Consumers are not expected to get rid of functioning boilers, but those who need to replace older boilers should be considering zero-carbon alternatives.

More than eight in 10 people (86%) gave at least one reason which is putting them off installing a low-carbon heating system in their homes, with cost being the most cited, by 56%.

A third (32%) said they feared it could lead to increased running costs.

A quarter said they were put off from changing their heating system as they “would not know where to begin” (28%) or did not know what options were available to them (25%).

UK housing’s energy use is responsible for around 14% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, with the vast majority of British homes heated by fossil gas-fired boilers that produce carbon dioxide, as well as cause local air pollution.

The Government has set out plans to decarbonise homes, including a ban on gas and oil boilers in new-build homes from 2025, and also intends to phase out the installation of new gas boilers.

This could require about 85% of UK homes – 23 million customers – to move to low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps and hydrogen boilers.

Sue Davies, Which? head of consumer rights, said: “Decarbonising millions of homes within the next few decades is a mammoth task, and while the Government has outlined ambitious plans to achieve this, many consumers are still in the dark about the potential cost of this transition and lack the right information to make decisions.

“Consumers will need a significant amount of support to transition to sustainable heating systems, and it is vital that the Government’s net-zero policy includes provisions to help people navigate the complex and confusing heating market, through access to the right information, robust consumer protections and if needed, appropriate financial support.”

Which? question 3,619 UK adults between April 30 and May 2.

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