If the future looks bright for EV adoption, then, what about electric heating? In the UK, roughly 15% of CO2 emissions come from space and water heating. In order to reach net-zero, we need to migrate millions of gas heating systems to electric alternatives and power them with clean energy from the grid. The decarbonisation of heat is a huge and crucial challenge, yet headlines on the subject are conspicuous by their absence. Where are the inspirational product launches? Where are the legions of mission focussed fans, placing hundreds of thousands of pre-orders for the latest electric heating tech? Where are the Elon Musks of heating?
Numerous arguments for EVs vs ICE cars apply to heating: far lower CO2 emissions, air quality, safety (gas leaks etc), reliability and longevity. Beyond cost-comparison, there are many upsides to electric heating which provoke powerful arguments to make the switch. If burning fossil fuels out on the roads is increasingly unacceptable, why do we still tolerate it in our kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms?
The reality is that the fundamentals that make EVs so appealing to consumers, conspire to work against electric heating. Natural gas is typically less than half the cost per kWh than ‘off-peak’ electricity, and this ultimately means a deal-breaking cost-of-ownership increase for the vast majority of consumers who would consider making the switch. Unlike cars, heating systems aren’t known for being lifestyle products; tempting consumers to stretch for an upgrade by speaking to their aspirations or identity. They are often hidden away in a cupboard somewhere, out of sight and out of mind until the home gets too warm or too cold.