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ETI insights reveal that rethinking the way we buy heat for our homes could increase low-carbon adoption

12 February 2018

Rebecca Sweeney
Rebecca Sweeney Programme Manager - ESD & SSH

In the UK, heating is the largest single user of energy, and the largest single emitter of greenhouse gases. In fact, household heating alone is responsible for 20 per cent of the UK’s overall national carbon emissions. This is why it is vital that we decarbonise domestic heat.

A central challenge to decarbonising heat in the home is its appeal to the consumer. Purchasing units of fuel can be seen as a distress purchase but we have found that consumers become more discerning when engaged in activity that is meaningful to them. However, to move away from simply being passive bill payers, consumers must become aware of the cost for alternative energy services and be able to dictate the level of heating experience they want. Because of this it is important that industry determines what consumers really value, so that it can design low-carbon solutions and heating packages that people really want to buy.

We know that consumer-centric markets such as phone and internet providers, compete to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by differentiating their offerings. This does not happen today with heat. So there is an opportunity for businesses to utilise the growth in the “connected home” to capture new value beyond the meter to deliver appealing, low-carbon consumer heat and comfort as a package.

Our research suggests that consumers will value getting the heat experiences they want more than purchasing units of fuel. Therefore, policy makers could look to create markets in which consumers pay businesses to deliver energy experiences, and service providers compete to decarbonise at least cost. And to protect both consumer and commercial interests the Government could also look to contract with service providers to make sure everyone has a minimum standard of heat and comfort provision to meet their particular needs, so the vulnerable do not miss out.

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