Heating up: the data behind the debate on green homes

12th October 2022
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The green agenda is a major driver of change in the built environment, with political will and societal need disrupting a conventionally mature segment of the international economy.


In this report, CIL explores the challenges faced on the journey to decarbonising Europe’s homes, and how current narratives overlook the complexity of the options available. We examine the challenge of heat pumps being a poor mass substitute for gas combi boilers and consider electric systems as an alternative.

At a glance:

  • There is no single pan-European answer to decarbonisation but multiple solutions, which vary based on existing infrastructure.
  • Available domestic technologies are not yet enough, with heat pumps only part of the answer and a weak cost/benefit case for the mass replacement of combi gas boilers.
  • Electric systems can, in some cases, produce more total CO2 and result in higher running costs; hydrogen boilers remain a long way off.
  • The most effective available change comes through insulation and heat recovery in the near term.
  • Ultimately, net zero will require a central grid overhaul towards renewables and nuclear. This will take significant capex and intergenerational political will to realise.
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