Energy firm SSE has today published a report making the case for increased use of district heating to improve heating efficiency and affordability.
The results are compelling; lives have improved, comfort has increased, carbon emissions have fallen and jobs and economic value have been created.
The Sustainable Heating: Reducing Costs, Improving Comfort and Lowering Carbon Emissions report found one retrofit project in Glasgow has delivered a 62% reduction in CO2 emissions since it was installed in 2012.
It also discovered Cube Housing Association tenants and factored homeowners at the Wyndford estate in Maryhill, Glasgow, not only had warmer homes and lower bills, but less worries about making ends meet.
Working with the University of Edinburgh the report concluded:
• 81% of tenants and 90% of owners said they felt warmer with the new heating system;
• 60% fewer tenants and 80% fewer owners reported going to bed early to keep warm;
• Tenants cutting back on food expenditure fell 50%;
• Tenants borrowing money for heating fell 60%; and
• Tenants putting off paying other bills fell 40%.
Construction of the scheme also delivered a £10m boost to UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP), supporting 176 job-years of employment.
Nathan Sanders, Managing Director SSE Enterprise Utilities, said: “This report comprehensively tells us the impact district heating systems can make on residents and their homes. From the jobs created through construction, the improvements in home comfort and the positive benefits to address fuel poverty too.
“And of course, district heating is more efficient than individual boilers because for every unit of primary energy both electricity and heat are generated – thereby delivering more energy ‘bang for buck’ and significantly reducing emissions in the process.
“As we continue efforts to decarbonise the heat sector we believe district heating will play a leading role and we hope today’s report is a helpful contribution to the debate about how we heat our homes in the future.”
In 2012, Cube Housing Association partnered with SSE to install the new heating system at the Wyndford estate in Maryhill, Glasgow. It aimed to improve comfort levels and the energy efficiency of almost 1,800 homes; mainly social housing with a small number of privately owned houses.
The system uses hot water to heat multiple homes from a central “boiler” rather than each individual home producing its own heating requirements. It is greener, producing considerably less carbon emissions than more conventional forms of heat, and it is also a more energy efficient way to keep homes warm.
SSE’s report demonstrates the wider value of developers, housing associations and local authorities considering new ways of heating homes and businesses.
David MacKenzie, Cube Director, said: “The district heating scheme is already making a huge difference in Wyndford. Our tenants and factored homeowners are enjoying the benefits of living in warmer, more energy-efficient homes and saving money on their fuel bills too.
“That puts more money in people’s pockets in these tough economic times and helps us address fuel poverty at the same time. We are delighted to have worked with SSE on this innovative project.”
As well as contributing to climate change targets, district heating can also play a central role in making progress towards the UK’s 2020 energy efficiency target to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent compared to 2007 levels.
Tim Rotheray Director of The Association for Decentralised Generation, said: “Well designed and operated district heating can make a tangible difference to our communities. This scheme from SSE shows how cutting energy waste can lift residents from fuel poverty; improving their comfort while also cutting carbon.
“The Scottish Government has an opportunity to develop a regulatory investment framework to create more schemes just like this one that can change many more Scottish householders’ lives.”
Lindsay Roberts, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: "The results of this study - one of the first of its kind - are truly remarkable.
"In Scotland's climate, affordable, low-carbon warmth is the key to improving not only people's health and welfare but also the quality of the wider environment in which they live.
"This report shows the monumental difference just one project can make. It also shows the importance of a continued focus on the transformation of our heat sector towards a renewable and low-carbon future."
As one of the UK’s leading providers of district heat networks, with 11 heat networks serving over 5,000 customers across the UK and this number set to treble in the near future, SSE Enterprise aims to play a significant role in the future growth of decarbonised heat in the UK.