The UK Government has announced that it is releasing funding to help decarbonise social housing across the country, starting with £160m. This is part of its commitment to spend £3.8bn decarbonising social housing over a ten year period.
The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) will allow registered providers of social housing (both private and local authority landlords) to receive funding to upgrade the energy performance of their social housing.
In our view, this is an important step (although, as ever, it needs to go further). The long term benefits of decarbonising housing is clear and well evidenced, but the initial costs can put off public and private housing associations from making changes. This sort of funding could go a long way towards helping that.
The heating of buildings is, as with the rest of the UK energy sector, one of the most important things we need to change. Gas boilers are rife across the UK and need to be phased out as soon as possible (indeed, the Government has been making noises about banning their installation in new homes). Heat pumps are widely accepted as the most likely replacement technology because they are proven, are available at scale now, and do not require massive re-engineering of the existing gas network.
Why Does Social Housing Need Decarbonisation?
Well, for starters, all kinds of buildings and businesses and institutions need to decarbonise or we will not hit net zero by 2050, we will exceed our 1.5C target for global warming, and we will see catastrophic ecological, meteorological and social damage as a result.
But, talking in specifics, the main reason the social housing stock needs to be decarbonised as soon as is feasible is because the UK government has said that they must.
Social housing providers have been set a target of attaining a ‘C’ rating on Energy Performance Certificates by 2035.
Currently, 44% of social housing in England and Wales falls below that standard. That’s actually better than the general performance of housing – 60% ranks under EPC ‘C’ grade. More than 40% are at EPC ‘D’.
EPC ‘C’ is actually not a particularly high bar. But it can still be a challenge, particularly in the case of multi-residential buildings and sheltered housing complexes which are often old, or repurposed, buildings.
How Can Heat Pumps Help With Decarbonisation?
All houses with gas boilers will need to replace them in the medium term. Hydrogen burning has been widely touted as an alternative, but as we discuss in this blog it’s a long way from being a practical solution and will actually be higher carbon than methane. By the time hydrogen burning is viable as a zero-carbon space heating method, it may well be too late.
Heat pumps are clean, incredibly efficient (up to 400%) and are likely to last for an extremely long time. They are such a good solution for heating buildings that the installation of a heat pump alone, with no other change made, can leapfrog an EPC D building to EPC B. Heat pumps are likely to be needed in most types of buildings in future, and as demand rises it may become less easy than it is now to have one installed.
However – the problem for public and private landlords and housing associations is one of up-front cost. A heat pump will pay for itself eventually, but it requires significant initial capital. That’s where the SHDF can help – the fund will pay for heat pump installations and heating system upgrades.
-Heat pumps are currently the best option for multi-residential buildings and sheltered housing complexes, where one unit can be used to heat multiple homes.
-The SHDF represents a FANTASTIC opportunity to get the government to fund the installation of a future-proof technology.
How Clade can help
We have over thirty years’ experience in the refrigeration and heat pump sector. We have designed, manufactured, installed and maintained heat pumps in commercial, public and residential buildings and built a fantastic reputation in doing so.
Along with our partners we can deliver turnkey or end-to-end solutions to give our customers complete peace of mind.
To any housing association or landlord interested in taking advantage of the opportunity the SHDF represents to install a heat pump, we recommend going to the government site and reading the relevant literature on how to apply. Please check out the Residential Heat Pumps page for more information. You can also get in touch with us directly and we can provide advice on what kind of heat pump you will need.