About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

This event was held on Thursday 8 September. The recording is available below.

In this Nesta talks to… Andy Reagan, Nesta Cymru’s Mission Manager for our sustainable future mission, and Dr Jan Rosenow, Director of the European programme at the Regulatory Assistance Project, delved into the ways in which we can decarbonise homes. They discussed the flexibility of our energy systems and alternative methods for heating homes more effectively.

There was much speculation about Liz Truss’s new government’s approach to the energy crisis. Based on announcements on 8 September, Dr Rosenow believed that the impact of the package could be limited. His main criticism was that there was very little information on energy demand – the approach merely mentioned subsiding energy bills and provided no options to enable a switch from gas to more energy efficient programmes. 

In comparison to the UK, countries in Europe have provided better alternatives to reducing energy demand with initiatives such as energy-saving campaigns and regulatory measures. For instance, in Spain and France there are laws requiring public buildings to not exceed certain indoor temperatures. In the Netherlands, the government has committed to phasing out stand-alone fossil fuel heating systems by 2026. Hybrid systems will still be allowed but there must be a secondary heat source from renewables. With such policy implementations, Dr Rosenow argues providing clarity to the market is key to ensure the kind of investment and innovation that can inspire customer demand. 

Low-carbon heating solutions such as heat pumps are a great way to improve the energy efficiency of buildings but several myths exist in relation to their usage. The most prevalent myth, that heat pumps aren’t compatible with existing buildings, can be tackled by devising better campaigns providing evidence that they work. Though the discussion is quite complex, making it accessible to consumers is important so that people can employ this technology in their homes. The reality is that any heating installation is more efficient in a well-insulated building, whether you have a gas or an oil boiler. Therefore, the best advice is to install basic insulation measures before getting a heat pump as it is more expensive to run without these in place.

With these kinds of policy changes in mind, Dr Rosenow’s most optimistic vision for homes in 2050 has three priorities. 

“More energy efficiency, not using fossil fuels anymore and having buildings as a resource to support the energy system, I think, is a vision for a decarbonised building stock that can hold.”

Dr Jan Rosenow

There is much potential in the UK to achieve better energy efficiency in homes by installing insulation which could result in a 30% reduction in energy use.  Rosenow wants to see homes using heat pumps, district heating, solar and other renewable sources so that they no longer need fossil fuels for heating. Finally, we need to ensure that buildings are interactive with the national grid. The more we electrify heat generation the more we should ensure these buildings are better equipped for this by  integrating renewable energy alongside fossil fuels. As a result, buildings in 2050 should be “grid-interactive resources”, promoting energy efficiency and utilising renewables to further drive decarbonisation.

The opinions expressed in this event recording are those of the speaker. For more information, view our full statement on external contributors.


Portrait Jan Rosenow (1)

Dr Jan Rosenow


Dr Jan Rosenow is a Principal and Director of European Programmes at the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), a global team of highly-skilled energy experts. Jan has several board appointments including the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and the Coalition for Energy Savings. Jan also has a passion for energy research. He is an Honorary Research Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. In recognition of his work within the field, Jan was named one of the world’s Top 25 energy influencers and has been appointed Special Advisor to the House of Commons as part of their inquiry into decarbonising heating. He is a regular commentator in the national and international media and has been an expert witness to the European Parliament and the House of Commons on many occasions.

Andy Regan

Andy Regan


Andy is working within the Nesta Cymru (Wales) team as a mission manager for our sustainable future mission. Andy joined Nesta from independent think tank the IWA, where he oversaw their research into a successful, clean, green and fair economy, and stronger, more confident democracy in Wales. He also delivered their professional training courses on Welsh devolution. Prior to that Andy specialised in energy policy in roles at Ofgem and Citizens Advice - where he co-chaired the Fuel Poverty Coalition Cymru.