Decarbonising the way we heat our homes will be key to achieving a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, a pledge made by the European Commission in their flagship EU Green Deal. Europe’s heating equipment is responsible for about 25% of the continent’s CO2 emissions, similar to road transport or industry. Heating is by far the largest source of energy consumption in our homes – 80% of the energy used in EU households goes to warming our homes and producing hot water.
The lifespan of heating appliances is much longer than those of other machines — this means that to reduce emissions from the heating sector we need to plan many years ahead. Most heating appliances last for over 20 years (half of the ones working today in the EU were installed before 1992), and 75% of them are powered by fossil fuels.
To reduce the impact of heating, it is essential to set strong environmental requirements as part of the EU energy labelling and ecodesign regulations. These legislative instruments have already proved to be strong weapons to reduce emissions. It is estimated2 that energy use from central heating has decreased by 22% between 2015 and 2020, partly thanks to the current energy labelling and ecodesign and rules, in force since 2015. It had taken almost seven years of discussions among the Commission, industry, researchers and NGOs to agree on these regulations — but the effort was definitely worthwhile.
Most heating appliances last for over 20 years, and 75% of them are powered by fossil fuels.
Now the Commission is reviewing those rules, although in a very different context. It is no longer a matter of reducing emissions – we are now working to achieve climate neutrality in the next 30 years. For that, we need to take bold steps, and phase out fossil fuel technologies entirely, and once and for all.
Today, fossil fuels are still the main power source for heating Europe. And it does not help that 22% of gas boilers installed across the continent exceed their technical lifetime or that new condensing gas boilers available on the market are still granted A-class energy labels. The time to phase out fossil fuel operated appliances is now, and we must stop putting them on the market by 2030 at the very latest if we are serious about our climate commitments.
PUT FOSSIL FUELS WHERE THEY BELONG – IN THE DISTANT PAST
The NGOs behind the Coolproducts campaign are working hard to put pressure on European policymakers to set the rules needed to eliminate fossil fuels from our heating systems.
We closely follow the review of the rules for ecodesign in boilers and heaters and participate in the expert forums set by the European Commission, advocating for a true decarbonisation of heating, and proper consumer information on the energy label.
Would you like to know more?
- Opinion piece: Cooling down Europe’s heating system
- Opinion piece: Gas boilers deserve an ‘F’, not an ‘A’
- Read our position paper: The ugly truth about electric heaters
- Watch our webinar: Cooling down Europe’s heating system