In a recent report by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), millions of families across Britain are being encouraged to avoid heating their homes during the evenings as part of efforts to achieve the government’s net zero target.
However, this suggestion has sparked controversy and has been criticized as a “daft idea” by its opponents.
The CCC’s proposal involves a strategy termed “pre-heating,” where households are advised to warm up their homes in the afternoon when electricity consumption is generally lower nationwide.
The report further outlines that within the next decade, all newly constructed homes and approximately half of those built post-1952 should be equipped for pre-heating.
Additionally, the committee suggests that individuals using electrically powered heating systems, like heat pumps, should switch off their radiators during the evening.
This recommendation falls under the category of “behavior change” and is part of the CCC’s sixth “carbon budget” paper.
The committee asserts that altering how homes are used in terms of energy consumption could contribute to overall emissions reductions and financial savings for homeowners.
Critics, however, contest this approach, suggesting that it might be driven by the limitations of renewable energy sources to meet peak demand.
Some opponents view it as another instance of the public having to make sacrifices to help the government achieve its green targets.
Andrew Montford, the director of Net Zero Watch, expressed concerns about the feasibility of this proposal, indicating that the electricity grid is already under strain and that relying solely on renewables is a problematic strategy.
Craig Mackinlay, who leads the Net Zero Scrutiny group of Conservative MPs, criticized the advice as well, stating that such measures would leave people colder and poorer, contrary to the promise of affordable renewable energy.
He emphasized that his goal in politics is to enhance the lives of constituents, not diminish them.
Despite the backlash, the CCC remains steadfast in its belief that the proposed advice will benefit homeowners, ensuring warmth while lowering energy bills.
The CCC, established in 2008 as an independent body, serves to provide guidance to the government regarding environmental targets.
This recent advice aligns with the government’s broader intention to phase out oil boilers, although this plan has faced resistance from some Tory MPs.
The government’s stance on the ban appears to be uncertain, as it has come under scrutiny and debate.
This uncertainty arises from conflicting views within the government itself.
The proposal to ban oil boilers and introduce air-source heat pumps by 2026 was initially promoted by Boris Johnson’s administration and placed for public consultation.
However, it remains unclear whether Rishi Sunak, another key figure in the government, will continue to pursue this plan.
The debate intensified after former environment secretary George Eustice criticized the proposal, highlighting its potential adverse impact on off-grid homes.
The CCC played a role in advocating for the ban on gas boilers in new homes by 2025 and their complete cessation by 2035.
Nonetheless, Chris Stark, the head of the climate watchdog, admitted to using gas heating in his own home due to challenges in installing heat pumps in certain types of residences.
Despite these debates, the CCC stands by its new advice, emphasizing that homeowners can benefit from cost-effective electricity usage during specific periods, unlike gas boilers.
The committee believes that implementing such “smart heating” practices can optimize grid usage and promote greater reliance on renewable energy sources.