How to Heat Scotland's Homes

Nesta in Scotland commissioned Energy Systems Catapult to better understand which dwellings in Scotland are most and least well suited to the transition to ground and air source heat pumps. The objective was to identify the barriers to installing low carbon heating technologies within existing housing stock in Scotland and the steps required to overcome them.

As part of this research ESC collated energy efficiency data for several dwelling archetypes and conducted detailed modelling for heating a tenement flat in different heating upgrade scenarios. They found that:

  • Housing stock in Scotland has a poor standard of energy efficiency with over 70 per cent of dwellings having an EPC rating D or C and 15 per cent having the lowest ratings of E, F or G.
  • Barriers to installation of heat pumps, including cost, supply, public awareness and practicalities such as space, exist across all housing types in Scotland.
  • Older, pre-1914 housing stock such as tenement blocks would require substantial and costly energy efficiency measures including to the fabric of the buildings (often prohibited by current planning restrictions), in order for heat pumps to deliver an acceptable standard of comfort and cost.

Decarbonising the way we heat our homes in Scotland is an essential step towards our net zero target. This research highlights how doing so will mean overcoming numerous challenges and developing and testing multiple solutions to suit the different requirements of our homes.

Report written by Dr. Carl Holland, Dr. Amanda Knight, Dr. Soma Mohammadi and Giorgio Cucca

Reviewed by Dr. Karl Sample


Dr. Carl Holland

Technical Collaboration Manager, Energy Systems Catapult