Insulation and Central Heating

Together pollution reductions from government targets for home insulation and central heating would make up 18% of UK emissions by 2032, i.e. a big deal.

Not everyone is going to be able or willing to afford this, so we have to hope the next government will take appropriate action.

A lot of politicians and mainstream media outlets recommend that we don’t bother. Here’s how the calculations were done.

The current UK government (June 2024) was aiming to achieve a reduction by a fifth in greenhouse gas emissions caused by home heating in the UK. This comes from the government’s 2018 Clean Growth Strategy.

“Space heating” accounts for 63% of domestic CO2 emissions, so reducing emissions by a fifth under the Strategy would be a reduction of 12.6% of domestic emissions.

Domestic CO2 emissions are 14% of the total UK emissions, so in other words, the Strategy target for home heating emissions is a 1.764% reduction of total UK emissions. In tonnes of CO2, that is 7 megatonnes per year.

If we all replaced our gas boilers with heat pumps that heat the home by extracting the heat from outside like a reverse refrigerator, the UK would cut emissions by a further 58 megatonnes per year.

Heat pump data:

Insulation data:

Greenhouse gas emissions data:

The eagle-eyed reader here will note that the emissions savings from insulation here are significantly lower than the savings from ditching gas boilers and installing heat pumps. This is because the insulation figures are a published and pragmatic target, but the heat pump action is a hypothetical ideal end result to scrap all gas boilers.

By Adam Hardy

Zoologist at heart. Environmentalist by necessity. Stage hand, financial trader, secretary, card payments designer, software developer, fossil fuel big data warehouse consultant. Amateur psychologist. Now climate change salvage engineer.