Setting Pathways for Low-Carbon Housing

Jason Palmer and Nicola Terry developed systematic stage-by-stage upgrade pathways for five common UK house types chosen from 30 real homes. The overall aim was to move from traditional gas heating to electric heating using heat pumps, or hybrid heat pump-boiler systems, with one eye on the timelines to transition to low-carbon heating.

This was only achievable – without sacrificing comfort or incurring very high bills – by making carefully selected energy efficiency improvements: insulating the walls and roof, improving air-tightness and heating controls, and sometimes insulating the floor; and often replacing small radiators with larger heat emitters and sometimes moving to underfloor heating at the same time.

The changes had aesthetic as well as financial implications for homeowners. We examined all of the outcomes – including CO2 savings and financial costs and benefits at each staging post along the upgrade pathway.

The report formed part of the Energy Systems Catapult’s Smart Systems and Heat project, which aimed to draw together data, modelling, customer insight and more, to shed more light on how to achieve massive decarbonisation of heating in homes.