Domestic heating accounts for 47% of the U.K.’s total carbon emissions. The current majority of domestic heating is provided by gas fired boiler systems. Gas is a fossil fuel and will always produce carbon emissions, so it is clear that we need to look at alternative fuels. In its recently published 2050 pathways analysis the government has looked at possible routes to a low carbon economy and it is clear that a substantial amount of heating, transport and industry will be required to move towards electric power.
Due to the continued decarbonisation of grid electricity, The Energy Saving Trust commissioned a report on the Utilisation Of Electricity.In this report it is acknowledged that direct acting heating and other electric heating such as heat pumps were increasingly being considered as appropriate technologies in new build homes. Electric heating is currently treated harshly by SAP and EPC due to the nature of how we currently produce grid electricity in the U.K. in Gas or coal fired power stations. There is no provision in these standards for those people that use electric heating and choose a green electricity tariff from a supplier that guarantees the electricity to have come from renewable sources. Looking to the future, the government has committed to reducing the carbon content in grid electricity by increasing the number of wind farms, building new nuclear power stations, carbon capture and storage technology for existing power stations and the more widespread use of micro-generation. The energy saving trust report also states that post 2020, due to the decarbonisation of grid electricity, dwellings fitted with direct acting electric heating will be able to achieve similar CO2 emissions as those served by an A rated gas boiler.
In 2050 and beyond, direct acting electric heating will have lower CO2 emissions than an A rated gas boiler. Electric direct acting heating is 100% efficient at converting fuel into heat, and it is also 100% effective, only giving exactly the heat required at exactly the time it is required in the exact areas it is required. The Zero carbon hub in its recent report carbon compliance for tomorrows new homes illustrates how the decarbonisation of grid electricity over the next 40 years will impact on our choice of electric heating system. Their modelling clearly shows that by 2028 we reach a point at which carbon compliance becomes unfeasible with technologies using gas and favours heating technologies using electricity.