How will electrification impact rural homes and farm businesses off-grid?

How will electrification impact rural homes and farm businesses off-grid?

As the Government continues to push an electrification-first approach to heating rural properties, a new poll with responses from rural people has shown this will put significant financial strain on households and agri-businesses off the mains gas grid.

This blog highlights the results of the recent rural polling and outlines how the adverse financial impacts coinciding with decarbonisation for the future can be minimised for rural homeowners and farm businesses.

Current energy policy for rural homes and businesses

Under current Government plans, outlined in the Heat and Buildings Strategy and Powering Up Britain Net Zero Strategy, off-grid homes and agricultural businesses using oil, LPG or solid-fuel heating systems would be unable to replace their heating system like-for-like should it break down after 2026.

Off-grid farm buildings, such as office spaces, outbuildings, milking parlours, grain stores, poultry sheds and barns, would all be affected and for larger non-domestic buildings, the deadline is even earlier, by 2024.

Rural polling survey data

Research has indicated that by Government enforcing this looming ban on fossil fuel boilers in off-grid properties, rural homeowners will face significant financial burden. Through recent polling, it has become evident how rural people feel about the Government’s move away from fossil fuel boilers, in favour of electrification, such as heat pumps.

The polling was carried out by Focal Data, targeting 1,012 people who live in properties not connected to the gas network across the UK, surveyed in February 2023. The data was weighted based on population to ensure a representative sample.

In rural homes and farmhouses, which are typically hard to heat and hard to treat, research shows the cost of replacing existing systems with an electric alternative, such as a heat pump, plus necessary retrofitting to make older properties more energy efficient, could cost between £15,000-£30,000.

When rural off-grid homeowners were asked, if faced with enforced electrification, would they be able to afford the installation of a heat pump, 69% said they would be unable to afford a new electric heating system. This is almost three quarters of all rural homeowners.

The poll also found 58% of homeowners not connected to the mains gas network feel the 2026 fossil fuel boiler ban is unfair compared to the much later 2035 Government ambition to phase out fossil fuels for those on the gas grid.

A further 60% said the Government should abandon and scrap the policy altogether.

With many farms and agricultural workers located in areas off the mains gas grid, the added concern of how continue to heat their homes and businesses in the future comes at a time of increasing living costs.

Fuel poverty statistics released by the Government (in February 2023) showed households in rural areas were almost 40% more likely to be in fuel poverty than their urban counterparts. The data also showed, for rural residents off the gas grid, over 20% are fuel poor compared to 12% on the gas grid.

How to avoid negative impacts of electrification

The rural polling highlights, by continuing with an electrification-first approach to heating, living in rural areas could become more unaffordable and unfair. Government should, therefore, consider the benefits of alternatives to electric heating technologies in a mixed energy approach.

Renewable liquid gases (RLG), such as bioLPG (also known as biopropane) and rDME, are low-carbon and drop-in alternatives to traditional LPG.

In the home, RLG can be used for heating and electricity. For farm businesses, RLG can be used with existing LPG-ready technologies across a variety of farming systems, including livestock and cropping, and powering generators and vehicles, with up to 90% carbon emissions reductions.

The liquid gas industry is also investing significantly in the domestic production of RLG, with a credible pathway in place to achieve net zero by 2040, meaning RLG is a fuel fit for today and for the future.

To find out more about RLG, speak to your LPG supplier or visit