Off-grid property

The House Magazine: A mix of energy solutions should be considered for the decarbonisation of rural homes

The Government strategy for the decarbonisation of off grid homes is centred around an ‘electrification first’ approach. Currently, the approach would see rural homeowners having little choice but to install a heat pump if their heating systems fail after 2026.

Although heat pumps could significantly help with the efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the electrification approach is not suitable for all properties. It risks leaving rural off-gas grid homeowners and businesses burdened with substantial costs associated with the retrofit and installation of heat pumps.

This concerning prospect has resulted in the launch of an industry-backed campaign, Off Grid Green, which advocates for rural homeowners to have a choice over how they heat their homes.

Off-Grid Green aims to showcase that a strategy promoting a mixed technology approach creates choice and is the most suitable option, for both government and homeowners, on the path to decarbonisation.

Currently, many rural homes use either heating oil, solid fuels (such as coal) or Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) to heat their homes. In the future, there are a number of solutions that can help these homes to lower their emissions and support the country’s net zero targets.

Renewable liquid gases

Renewable liquid gases, such as bioLPG and rDME, are just two promising solutions. Both fuels are produced using renewable or sustainable feedstocks, meaning they are fuels not just suitable for homeowners now, but also into the future.

BioLPG and rDME are also proven to yield a significant reduction in carbon emissions, up to 90% and 85% respectively[1]. BioLPG can also be used as a ‘drop in’ fuel in to existing LPG boilers, reducing costs and disruption for homeowners and businesses already using LPG. Currently, the equivalent of over 40,000 homes[2] use renewable liquid fuels in the UK, but there is potential to substantially increase this figure in the future. Production of renewable liquid gases is already underway in the UK, as facilities open, such as the recently announced rDME production plant in Teesside.

Supporting rural constituents

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, agrees that rural constituents would benefit from greater choice on the path decarbonisation. “The Government’s current Heat and Building Strategy has made steps to achieve net zero, but it needs to go further and investigate a range of sustainable heating solutions for rural homeowners, as well an improving the energy efficiency of properties, to provide greater choice,” he says.

When fitted appropriately, heat pumps can be incredibly effective. However, many rural properties are old, poorly insulated and therefore less energy efficient. Properties of this kind will require a significant retrofit for a heat pump to work, which could cost homeowners up to £32,000[3], when considering the cost of installation.

“Insulating as many rural homes as possible up to EPC Band C, which the Government has a statutory requirement to deliver by 2030, and which could help homeowners save up to £600 off their energy bills,” adds Mr Aldous.

“Funding for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), the government’s longstanding energy efficiency scheme which is set to benefit 450,000 fuel poor households by 2026, is a good position to build from. However, it is also imperative that the decarbonisation strategy goes further.

“We should make upgrading our ‘leaky’ housing stock a national infrastructure priority. It’s vital that we use the legislative opportunity presented by the Government’s Energy Security Bill to finally legislate for Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards of EPC Band C for this sector by 2028, kickstarting the insulation drive rural Britain sorely needs,” he adds.

To find out more about the challenges surrounding the decarbonisation of rural properties and the mixed technology solutions available for rural homeowners, visit

[1] 2040 Vision 1 — Liquid Gas UK: The trade association for the LPG and biopropane industry in the UK

[2] 2040 Vision 1 — Liquid Gas UK: The trade association for the LPG and biopropane industry in the UK

[3] The Role Of Lpg And Biolpg In Large Rural Off Grid Homes — Liquid Gas UK: The trade association for the LPG and biopropane industry in the UK