Even after decades of international action, eco-protests and technological development, the world continues to run on fossil fuels.
In a few decades, it might be a shock for historians when they find out that even while knowing about climate change, humans still continued to build petrol-powered cars, to build new gas and coal-fired power stations, and to build poorly insulated homes with gas-guzzling central heating.
Another problem with the UK’s energy policy that may yet come back to bite us is where we get our fuel from. Having closed our own coal mines last century, we depend on South African and Polish imports. We only supply 40% of our natural gas needs ourselves, relying on Norway and Russia for the rest, and we import our oil from 17 different countries.
Contrast this with France, a country with a longstanding policy of energy security, and we might see how vulnerable Britain is to fluctuations in the global market and our relationship with Russia — and how dependent we are on eco-disastrous international shipping.
But the next few years might represent an opportunity for change. With an increasingly eco-conscious population, a struggling post-Covid economy and a housing shortage to boot, the government looks all set to invest in a green housing revolution.
We would all welcome new affordable homes. But the government is missing a once-in-a-generation opportunity if it’s planning to build them without proper insulation or eco-friendly central heating.
Heat pumps – whether they’re ground or air source – are a sustainable and efficient method of heating a home. They’re far more efficient than space heaters, converting one unit of electricity into three units of heat at mild temperatures. As they run only on electricity from the grid, they can be powered completely by renewable energy — and their lifespan is frequently upwards of twenty years, making them an investment for the future in every sense.
If the government and private house-builders want to build the quality, sustainable housing we need, they need to make quality, sustainable choices. That’s where renewable heating systems come in.