As the pace has gathered for the electrification of home energy and cars, so too has its associated evangelism and social separatism. As this social pressure increases, more people are seeking facts, not popularist headlines and pressure, in order to make the correct (expensive) decision.
Some heat pump (HP) enthusiasts now advocate ripping out gas boilers that are just a few years old and replacing them with a HP system. They say it’s ‘always better for the environment’. My instinct, along with many other experienced people’s, is that simply does not add up.
So, I have been trying to track down the scientific basis of various values bandied about as ‘standard’ by the HP lobby. For example, the amount of energy consumed by a home heating system as used in comparisons to an HP system. My engineering instincts scream that a fully optimised boiler system is achieved at almost zero environmental cost and can be far more efficient than is being allowed for. I also feel that replacing a gas system without it reaching the end of its efficient working life is unlikely to be justified simply from a whole life emissions perspective.
During my investigations, I have seen that the methodology used to quantify the emissions embedded in products is based in large part on estimation and assumption. I have seen too that it is in a manufacturing organisation’s profit interests to minimise those numbers because Joe public are increasingly choosing based on said numbers. Make no mistake, electrification is indeed the way forward, however this electrification of our industry also happens to have the biggest potential profit bonanza it has ever seen so let’s say one might be a little wary of in-house calculated numbers when so much is at stake.
In all of the ‘discussions’ I have been involved in with HP advocates, not one has been open to my questions. I have been ignored or roundly attacked for being either a luddite or a climate denier. Frankly, as anyone who knows me will testify, that could not be further from the truth. All I have ever wanted to do is establish the facts so that the chance of us making yet more environmentally disastrous decisions, due to avarice at worse or misguided over-enthusiasm at best, are minimised. Of all the ‘experts’ in the HP field, not one is able to give me the information I seek or is able to point me to where to find it.
That last point encapsulates my concerns. Am I the only person who has ever asked this question? Am I the only person who wants to know that this major environmental decision both for individuals and our planet has its basis in fact rather than mythology. Surely humanity, having been bombarded with fake news to its eternal detriment over the last 10 years, must not have suddenly stopped learning? Surely to goodness the combined cognitive abilities of all these wealthy, well-educated people pushing us to make this ‘right’ choice have done some due diligence before advocating for it?
Once again, I am all for positive, effective change, but we have so little time left before we irreversibly leave descendants a shrivelled-up prune of a planet. We have the heaviest obligation we have ever faced to be certain that the way advocated is right choice, the properly sustainable for planet Earth choice, and not just ‘Heat Pumps Chucked In Limited’.
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