Speeding up low carbon heating in social housing

Low carbon heating is to be installed in social housing to help cut bills and carbon emissions for people unable to afford the switch to clean heating.

The ‘Right to Heat’ project will see new hybrid boilers – which use both gas and electricity – installed this year alongside solar panels and batteries in up to 25 homes across the South East to create a template for green heating in social housing.

The partnership between electricity network operator UK Power Networks, Stonewater, Social Energy, Passiv UK, and SGN – is helping make sure nobody is left behind in the switch to low carbon technology: a key part of tackling the climate crisis. Latest figures show up to 3.9 million people around the UK live in social housing, and these homes account for 15% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The compact hybrid heating systems have smart controls that can automatically switch between gas and electricity at certain times, depending on different factors including changing energy costs. By sometimes using electric heating, residents will use less natural gas overall. With solar panels providing renewable energy, and batteries storing the power for later, residents will also use less energy from the electricity network, saving them money and reducing household emissions at the same time.

Stonewater customer Paul Brennan, who had a heat pump installed last winter as part of a related trial, says: “Even though my heat pump has only been installed a short time, it was immediately noticeable how much I was saving. If you think about all the people in this area using less than the energy they would normally use, it’s not just the savings to the people that would matter, but the impact overall would be brilliant as well.”

Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UK Power Networks, says: “Right to Heat is about creating a scalable template for social housing so no one is left behind in tackling the climate crisis. We’re determined to make the transition work for all our customers, no matter their circumstances.”

SGN’s regional development manager Dave Raymond adds: “What makes this exciting project so unique is the exceptional collaboration from all the partners involved, as well as its focus on those in society who otherwise would have difficulty in keeping up with Net Zero.”

Adam Masters, environmental sustainability manager at Stonewater, says: “We understand the importance of everyone having a warm, comfortable and affordable place that they can call home. Our involvement with Right to Heat will enable more of our customers, but also residents of other housing providers, to reap the environmental and cost benefits of low-carbon heating – sooner rather than later.”

Right to Heat continues to March 2023, and follows UK Power Networks’ HyCompact project, which is testing hybrid heating systems in seven homes across Wales, London and the South East with gas network Wales & West Utilities.

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