Residential

Changes to all homes are needed to enable decarbonisation in the residential sector. These include the way we build our homes, through to the way we use energy in them.

Key insights

Annual residential energy demand (for heat and appliances) in 2050 

 

Key Residential key Insights

 

  • Consumer perception and engagement is vital to ensure low carbon heating will be installed in every home in the country to help achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

  • Homes will benefit from a range of low carbon heating technology options. Our net zero scenarios show that heat pumps, district heating and hydrogen boilers are all needed. Their distribution throughout GB is driven by factors such as infrastructure (hydrogen or electricity) availability and consumer choice.

  • Homeowners’ behaviour, like choosing to turn thermostats down, can lead to significant reductions in heat demand. For instance, 1°C (on average) decrease in Leading the Way compared to today’s levels can lead to up to a 13% reduction in heat demand.

  • Government policy will be essential to encourage mass consumer uptake of energy efficiency measures. Our net zero scenarios show that insulation in lofts and walls will need to be retrofitted in homes in the 2020s continuing to the mid-2030s.

  • The way homeowners use low carbon heating technologies will help us manage a future electricity system dominated by intermittent renewable supplies. For example, thermal storage devices can be installed in homes alongside heat pumps. They can release energy at peak times to reduce electricity demand from heating by up to 8% in System Transformation and 35% in Leading the Way.

  • Home appliances such as washing machines, computers and TVs are highly efficient in all net zero scenarios, reducing demand (compared to today’s levels) by up to 39% by 2050 in Leading the Way.

 

Where we are now

Currently residential demand for energy in GB’s 28.5 million homes accounts for around 480 TWh, which was 35% of GB total demand in 2020. Its heavy reliance on natural gas meant residential emissions in 2020 were 71 MtCO2e; approximately 14% of the UK’s total emissions.

Scenario Overviews – Residential

Consumer Transformation

The route to 2050

  • From the early 2020s to 2035 homes are retrofitted with measures including insulation, triple glazing and low carbon heating under government initiatives. 

  • Consumers are encouraged to turn their thermostats down by 0.5°C to reduce overall energy demand year-on-year, as well as reducing the electricity system peak from electric heating demand.

  • From 2025, all new build homes have heat pumps installed, in line with the Future Homes Standard.

  • There is a 32% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030, with consumers changing their light bulbs to LEDs, and investing in highly-efficient, smart appliances like washing machines and computers.

  • The sale of natural gas boilers is banned from 2035.

What does 2050 look like?

  • Total residential demand in 2050 is 172 TWh.

  • As this is our scenario with the highest levels of electrification, the use of air source and ground source heat pumps is widespread. This scenario has the highest number of heat pumps – including hybrids – reaching over 25 million installations by 2050.

  • Around 10 million homes have thermal storage. Consumers respond to Time of Use Tariffs (TOUTs) to change their demand at times of peak supply or demand on the local and national electricity networks. Smart appliances turn on, off, up or down throughout the day.

  • Households not previously connected to the gas grid either use heat pumps, biofuels or heat pump biofuel hybrids.

  • District heat networks are used in some areas, with hot water piped to homes by centralised heat pumps.

System Transformation

The route to 2050

  • Extensive retrofitting schemes are driven by government incentives from the mid-2020s to increase household thermal efficiency.

  • Hydrogen-ready boilers and appliances like hobs and kettles are installed from 2025 in readiness for switching the natural gas network to hydrogen from 2030.

  • New build homes include hydrogen ready boilers and appliance from 2025.

  • Consumers invest in high-efficiency appliances and LED light bulbs, resulting in a 32% improvement in energy efficiency by 2032.

What does 2050 look like?

  • Total residential demand in 2050 is 318 TWh.

  • A national hydrogen network means 69% of homes use hydrogen boilers for heating.

  • Up to 11 million consumers use electric or hybrid heat pumps.

  • Most appliances are highly efficient, and some are smart - providing flexibility at times of peak supply or demand.

Leading the way

The route to 2050

  • By 2025, 2.6 million homes have heat pumps, thanks to government policy.

  • This scenario has the highest rates of residential energy efficiency measures. Retrofitting takes place from the mid-2020s, achieving a 12% reduction (from insulation measures) in average electricity demand per household by 2035, offsetting potential increases in demand from earlier heat pump installations.

  • Consumers turn their thermostats down by 1°C on average to reduce heating demand.

  • The development of local hydrogen networks leads to an increase in hydrogen boiler and hybrid hydrogen heat pump installations from 2028.

  • Smart appliances are 40% more efficient by 2032.

  • The sale of natural gas boilers is banned by 2035.

What does 2050 look like?

  • Total residential demand in 2050 is 178 TWh.

  • Over 80% of households have heat pumps - including hybrids. Thermal storage is used at times of peak demand to avoid high energy prices, with units recharged during peak supply.

  • 21% of homes have hydrogen boilers, with a higher proportion in the north.

  • 1.3 million homes previously off the gas grid now use biofuels, either exclusively or in hybrid systems with heat pumps.

  • All appliances are smart and highly efficient, with many consumers investing in home energy management systems.

Steady Progression

The route to 2050

  • There is some government policy to encourage consumer investment in thermal efficiency measures such as insulation or triple glazing.

  • The 2025 Future Homes Standard is not met, but some new builds install heat pumps where it is seen to be cost effective.

  • Little to no additional policies exist to encourage widespread purchase of highly efficient appliances like washing machines and computers, so this scenario does not achieve the 32% increase in energy efficiency target.

What does 2050 look like?

  • Total residential demand in 2050 is 390 TWh.

  • Most homes still use natural gas boilers.

  • There are no hydrogen boiler systems as there is no hydrogen network.

  • Some consumers install heat pumps with little to no insulation or thermal storage measures to help manage the increase in demand on the local and national electricity networks.

  • While some appliances are highly efficient, most are not smart and cannot provide flexibility at times of peak supply or demand.