Gas: The natural choice for heating our homes

Gas: The natural choice for heating our homes

Summer’s gone, and the warm autumn colours will soon fade. Cooler weather’s just around the corner, and soon we’ll need to heat our homes, offices and schools to stay warm this winter. For many Europeans, affordable heating will be essential to maintain quality of life and good health as they endure the darkest months of the year.

Residential buildings make up the largest portion of Europe’s building stock, with 60-70 percent of EU housing stock dating to 1980 or earlier, and homes have the largest specific consumption (kWh/m2/year). Pair this with low building refurbishment rates, and the result is mediocre energy efficiency and a high financial burden for consumers. This is an opportunity, more and more recognized by policymakers and consumers.

When using an equally efficient boiler, natural gas produces less CO2 than other fuels, including heating oil, coal, or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Gas-based heating appliances also partner well with renewables, such as solar energy, to produce heat, and mCHP appliances can enable gas and electricity to work together. With power to-gas, gas-based heating can be a renewable alternative, using the well-established European gas network. This offers opportunities for decentralized gas production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The need for heating fluctuates greatly, whether we are at home, at work, if it’s cold outside or not. This creates large swings in Europe’s gas system, which is traditionally built to respond to rising and declining heating demands, making gas the ideal partner for renewables.

GHG emissions can be reduced quickly by maximizing the energy efficiency of gas. Over four-fifths of Europe’s boilers are still older, less efficient makes. By replacing these appliances with newer gas-condensing boilers, or by using hybrid heating systems, Europe can achieve reduced GHG emissions, enhance energy efficiency, and avoid large infrastructure investments.  As gas infrastructure is already well-developed, significant new investment isn’t necessary, like it would be to replace it with other heating fuels. Plus, the vast majority of the gas distribution system is underground, protected from harsh weather conditions, making gas a reliable provider to meet the heating needs of tens of millions of households.

Affordable and accessible heating throughout Europe will continue to be important for winters to come. The EU Heating and Cooling strategy, which is due to launch in January 2016, should bear in mind these realities, and foster a competitive heating and cooling sector that places consumers’ needs at its forefront.


François-Régis Mouton
GasNaturally Chairman