Survey shows rural voting intentions will be influenced by heat decarbonisation policy

30th May 2024

UKIFDA Future Ready Fuel

Political party policies on transitioning off-grid homes onto low carbon heating will impact how rural households vote at the general election, results from a new survey reveal.

In a poll of just under 1,000 rural homeowners published by the Future Ready Fuel campaign, 85% of respondents said the government and opposition party policies on decarbonisation will influence how they cast their vote at the ballot box.

Significantly, the survey also revealed that 94% of households felt they should be responsible for choosing the heating system they install when it needs to be replaced, compared to 2% who thought the government should have the final say.

When asked about renewable liquid fuels, 88% of respondents said they would prefer to switch to the fuel compared to just 6% for a heat pump. This emphasises the importance of greater choice in the marketplace for low carbon heating, including renewable liquid fuels.

In October, following significant support from a cross party group of MPs, Parliament approved the Energy Act which included provision to legislate for a Renewable Liquid Heating Fuel Obligation which would allow rural homes to use renewable liquid fuels in their existing boilers without costly and disruptive additional work, but still reducing their overall carbon footprint.

This was subject to a further consultation which will now be delayed as a result of the general election.

Paul Rose, CEO of OFTEC, and Ken Cronin, CEO of UKIFDA, who are backing the Future Ready Fuel campaign commented: “At the start of the general election, this survey reveals that the policies political parties set out for transitioning rural homes onto low carbon heating will be an important factor in how households vote.

“We are urging all parties to publicly commit to delivering on the commitments Parliament made to the UK’s 4 million people in 1.7 million off-grid households in passing the Energy Act.

“In this election, rural off-grid households now must have the certainty they need to be able to choose how best they can make their contribution to achieving net zero. We stand ready to work with the next government to make that a reality.”

Paul and Ken added: “There is overwhelming public support for renewable liquid fuels and the government and opposition parties have the opportunity to show they are on the side of rural homeowners. Otherwise, they will make their voice heard at the election.”

Among the other findings in the survey, over 40% over respondents said their property was over 100 years old. Whilst over 90% had loft insulation and double glazing, only 43% had cavity wall insulation, 19% external wall insulation and 14% underfloor heating.

According to the government’s online calculator, the cost for some properties to install a heat pump could exceed £20,000 and involve significant disruption from the installation of new radiators, piping and the reintroduction of a hot water tank.

When asked how much they would be willing to spend on a new heating system, 56% of those surveyed said between £1,000 to £5,000. Only 2% said up to £15,000. Two thirds (64%) were also more concerned about the cost of installing a low carbon heating system than three years ago.

Around 150 oil heated properties across the UK have switched to the renewable liquid fuel Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) as part of an industry backed demonstration project. The sustainably sourced fuel reduces emissions by 88% and only requires a small modification to an existing boiler which is expected to cost around £500.

Survey respondents strongly supported this option and 97% said the incentives on HVO in transport and aviation should also apply to home heating.

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