Brightest stars in UK energy launch campaign for electrified home heating

Leading energy suppliers, consumer groups, certification bodies, trade associations and NGOs to push for the fastest possible uptake of affordable electric heat pump technology in British homes.

A new campaign group, Electrify Heat, has formed to lead the UK switch from gas and oil boilers to electric heat pumps, which will be needed to meet the UK’s Net Zero targets.

Electrify Heat’s members include leading energy suppliers OVO Energy, Octopus Energy, Good Energy, Scottish Power and E.ON plus organisations such as Energy Saving Trust. The group is also backed by the Green Finance Institute and major trade associations Energy UK, the Sustainable Energy Association, the Heat Pump Federation, the Heat Pump Association, the Ground Source Heat Pump Association and the Association for Decentralised Energy. MCS, the standards organisation for renewable products and installations, is also a founder member.

The campaign is the first of its kind in the UK and launches at a crux moment in UK energy policy, ahead of the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy, Net Zero Strategy and COP26.

Lead spokesman for Electrify Heat, Edward Robinson, said:

Net Zero is impossible in the UK without transitioning from gas and oil boilers to electric heat pump technology. But we need to move fast. 85% of UK homes are heated by fossil fuels. Heat pump technology works in some of the coldest countries in Europe, so now we need to develop our own UK market. Electrify Heat has been formed to help the Government meet and exceed its goal of 600,000 heat pump installations per year by 2028. Our campaign is made of the most dynamic players in UK energy policy.   

Head of policy, Juliet Phillips, said:

The current energy crunch highlights the fact that moving away from gas and towards low-carbon electricity is a no regrets option that will ensure a smooth transition to a stable green energy system. The Government has a huge opportunity in the upcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy and at the Spending Review to get the policies in place to deliver its vision of affordable electrified heat in British homes before 2030.

Member quotes:

Michael Lewis, CEO of EON

“Switching from fossil fuels to electric heating is not only the right thing to do from an environmental perspective, it also helps clear some of the dirty air in our streets and remove some of the volatility in our energy bills which are driven by global competition for resources.

“Improving home heating and transport is a far larger challenge than decarbonising electricity generation because it involves individual decisions in 30 million homes around the country. We have to move people from needing to change to actively wanting it, and that means ensuring the greenest option is also the cheapest and the easiest option.

“Kick-starting the process of reducing our reliance on gas involves removing the policy costs which make up almost a quarter of the electricity bill, giving electric heating a fair playing field against gas and incentivising customers to invest in the cleaner, cheaper and more efficient alternative.

“We’ve already seen the success with renewable generation upstream and we’re now delivering the same with electric vehicles, solar panels and batteries. Heating is the biggest challenge but will provide the biggest win for our net zero ambitions.”

Clementine Cowton, Director of External Affairs at Octopus Energy

“Heat pumps are more efficient, safer and better at warming our homes than gas, and a heat pump is going to be as cheap as a new gas boiler within the next couple of years. There’s no time to waste in reducing Britain’s reliance on expensive, dirty gas. Let’s get on with the job.”

Jessica Tan, Managing Director of OVO Home

“There has never been a more important time to consider the economic upside of decarbonising homes and accelerating the rollout of heat pump technology. The UK is too dependent on gas for heat and the global gas price is soaring to never before seen levels.

Zero carbon homes with heat pumps, high energy efficiency and smart storage at their core are key. They reduce consumer bills, empower consumers to earn money from trading energy with the grid, and increase the value of their home when it comes to selling or mortgaging.

“We are calling on the Government to deliver a policy framework that ensures all households can participate in an affordable transition. An urgent first step is taking levies off electricity bills and providing grant support to low income households. We can’t leave anyone behind.”

Kit Dixon, Policy and Regulation manager at Good Energy

“Electrify Heat is a timely intervention in a part of the energy sector which has, up to now, failed to make any real progress towards decarbonising. It is vital that we act swiftly to provide the impetus required to jump-start a move away from fossil fuels and towards clean, renewably-powered heating. This campaign will garner support from the public and help to enable policymakers to take the bold decisions required to propel the UK into the next stage on the route to net zero.”

Emma Harvey, Programme Director at the Green Finance Institute

“Heating the UK’s built environment is one of the largest contributors to emissions and accounts for 21% of the national total. Decarbonising our homes and buildings will be vital to achieve the UK’s net-zero ambitions. Therefore we welcome today’s launch of Electrify Heat and look forward to contributing towards a constructive, outcomes focused campaign to help deliver zero carbon heating across the UK.”

Rob McGaughey, Head of Smart Heat at Scottish Power

“At Scottish Power, we’re working on delivering a better, greener future. We only generate 100% green electricity and are playing a leading role in the fight against climate change; taking practical steps to help the UK reduce its carbon emissions and reach net zero by 2050. Electrifying household heating, using heat pumps, is the best path towards a more sustainable future.”

Bean Beanland, Director for Growth & External Affairs at The Heat Pump Federation

The Electrify Heat campaign aligns perfectly with the aspirations of our members. This decade is critical to the UK having any chance of delivering on Net Zero 2050 and the electrification of heat is central to both decarbonisation and the improvement in air quality. Carrying the public with us is vital, and education and fairness are core to this. Electrify Heat is the perfect medium to press the government into immediate and decisive action.”

Mike Thornton, Chief Executive of Energy Savings Trust

“With the climate emergency upon us, there is no time to waste and we need to take positive action. We have to make our homes more energy efficient and move away from reliance on fossil fuels for heating. Heat pumps are an important low carbon heating technology that will help us meet net zero. For the UK to reach its net zero targets, we need real pace and scale in rolling out heat pumps. This campaign will demonstrate the benefits of heat pumps and help people switch over to low carbon heating in their homes. It is also needed to push for the policies from government that will provide the confidence, clarity and certainty which will unlock the investment required for this transition to happen.”

Jade Lewis, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Association

“The electrification of heat is a vital component in decarbonising our homes and buildings, ensuring they are fit for the future. Our members have been campaigning for many years for sustainable energy solutions to be prioritised. Now is the time for action. In the run up to COP26, and beyond, it is vital that the Government, the industry and the general public are aware of the technologies, understand the benefits they bring, support the transition away from carbon intensive heating systems and play their role in tackling climate change.”

Ian Rippin, Chief Executive of MCS

“The government urgently needs to invest in retrofitting our homes and decarbonising heat now, especially given the range of proven zero-carbon solutions currently available to decarbonise our homes. Heat pumps are a key solution for making the heating of our homes greener and the technologies are available for deployment now. This campaign group hopes to amplify our voice calling for urgent action now. This is the time for a concerted push for galvanising renewables uptake and giving people confidence in home-grown energy.”

Basic facts on heat

Basic facts

  • 14% of the UK’s carbon emissions arise from heating homes and switching to heat pumps is one of the easiest and most impactful means of hitting climate targets.
  • 85% of UK buildings are heated by gas boilers and the UK currently has some of the lowest sales of heat pumps in Europe – meaning we risk falling behind.

Health benefits

  • Heat pumps are non-polluting at the point of use, improving air quality both in the home and in the urban environment.

Safety and durability

  • Heat pumps are highly reliable and tend to have longer life-spans than equivalent condensing fossil fuel boilers; once installed, maintenance costs are also lower.    

Affordability, availability and familiarity

  • Many Brits do not realise that heat pumps are already an established technology heating homes in the UK and over 40 million homes across Europe.
  • Most domestic air- and ground- source heat pumps enjoy permitted development rights for deployment.
  • Heat pump technology isn’t new, it’s already in our homes where we’ve relied on heat pumps to keep our milk fresh and our peas frozen for decades.
  • The International Energy Agency thinks heat pumps could supply around 90 per cent of global space and water heating by 2050.

The economy

  • September 2021 research from Cambridge Econometrics for Greenpeace UK found that around 140,000 new jobs will be created, and the economy boosted by £9.8 billion, by 2030 if the government increased plans for the deployment of heat pumps and energy efficiency measures. These new jobs vastly outweigh the number that are currently supported by gas network maintenance

Contact details

The campaign secretariat is led by top environmental think tank E3G and environmental public affairs consultancy Culmer Raphael. For all comments and interview requests please contact Edward Robinson.