Decarbonisation of rural homes at risk due to high costs

Malcolm Farrow is the head of public affairs at OFTEC
Malcolm Farrow is the head of public affairs at OFTEC

New industry research by OFTEC questions the government’s current approach to decarbonising off gas grid homes being achievable despite rural households being offered a significant increase in funding to cover the high costs involved.

Existing policy plans propose switching most off-grid homes with fossil fuel heating to electric heat pumps and, in some cases, solid biomass or hybrid systems. However, OFTEC said there is considerable uncertainty over how the transition will be funded, and a survey of over 1,000 rural property owners suggests more than three quarters (78%) would be unlikely to install a heat pump in the future, even with the financial incentives available.

Malcolm Farrow, head of public affairs at OFTEC which commissioned the survey conducted by Opinium, said: “The research found over half (55%) of rural homeowners would not be prepared to pay more than £2,500 for a new low carbon heating system, and a third of those wouldn’t be willing to pay anything at all.

“This is important because the average price to install an air source heat pump is £10,900. The expense could be reduced by £5,000 if homeowners take up a Green Homes Grant, but this still leaves a minimum shortfall of almost £6,000 which, according to the study results, most rural households would be unwilling or unable to pay.”

For the many who live in poorly insulated rural properties, this could come with the cost of making energy efficiency improvements to their homes which are needed for effective heat pump use, OFTEC said.

BEIS figures suggest 65% of oil heated homes currently fall into the lowest energy efficiency bands EPC E-G, with the cost to upgrade a Band E home to an acceptable Band C estimated to be on average £12,300, and from Bands F and G, £18,900.

However, research shows that two thirds (68%) of rural homeowners stated that £2,500 was the maximum amount they would be willing to spend on energy efficiency upgrades, with over a third (35%) of those unwilling to spend anything.


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