During the lockdown earlier in the year, we saw pollution levels drop significantly as the majority of people were no longer driving into work. The weather was warm and we didn’t need to have the heating on, but as we move into winter, those of us working from home will no doubt have the heating on at home more often than usual, and those offices that are open for those who still need to be at work will also have their heating on. This means that more pollution than normal is expected throughout the winter months. A report from think tank ECIU (Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit) advises that a spike in nitrogen oxides (NOx), emitted from gas heating systems, could compromise meeting the country’s legally binding air quality targets. Their modelling predicts there will be a 56% rise in boiler use this winter due to changing working patterns.
The report also highlights the implications of higher pollution levels to our health, explaining “Air pollution in the UK is a major issue. It contributes to about 40,000 early deaths and costs the economy more than £20bnper year. This is rising –respiratory disease now affects one in five people and is the third-largest cause of death in England. Hospital admissions are on the increase too, as admissions for lung disease have risen at three times the rate of all admissions generally over the last seven years.”
The government are expected to publish their 'Heat and Buildings Decarbonisation Strategy' in November, which should lay out the plans to switch homes to cleaner sources of energy. Read more from the BBC here, or find the report from ECIU here.