In a new report, by the think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the government is told to prioritise making Britain’s homes warmer.

According to the think tank the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which the IPPR claims could cost tax-payers up to £860M in the current spending review, is unlikely to prove either ‘attractive’ to or ‘cost-effective’ for householders.

The left-wing think thank argues the government is also wrongly focusing on putting tax payers’ money into backing renewable heat technologies, which it says only ‘wealthier people’ can currently afford to install.

The report Warmth in a changing climate: How should the government encourage households to use renewable heat? is published today (September 16).

Produced after a series of focus groups, which the IPPR claim are the first of their kind in the UK, participants asked about renewable heat said they were put off by the ‘high upfront costs’ of installing new technologies.

The groups also said they were ‘sceptical’ the new technologies would deliver enough heat at an acceptable price.

IPPR associate director for climate change, energy and transport, Andrew Pendleton, said: “Decarbonising household heat is essential if the UK is to meet its climate change targets.

“But the government’s current approach is the wrong one. Providing a Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) style for heat production rather than offering a package of measures aimed at providing warmth risks undermining consumer confidence in heat technology.

“A tariff-based incentive will also fail to address the high capital costs, identified as the key barrier in IPPR’s consumer workshops.”

The report concludes by stating while cutting emissions from household heating is important, costs across the economy could be higher than anticipated and take-up may be low.

In some cases, technologies may simply not provide enough heat to meet consumers’ expectations or to heat homes to a safe level.

Luke Walsh

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