What is a hydrogen home and how environmentally friendly are they?

Ellsmere Port
Cheshire West and Cheshire Council have commissioned around 2,000 hydrogen homes in Ellsemere Port. Credit: ITV News

With the UK government targeting net zero carbon emissions by 2050, some gas providers are trialling the use of hydrogen in homes across the country.

Around 2,000 homes in Whitby, Ellesmere Port have been shortlisted to become a hydrogen home.

What is a hydrogen home?

Unlike natural gases which are generally used to heat homes, the chemical element hydrogen does not create any carbon dioxide when it is burned.

Using hydrogen means households will reduce carbon emissions which contribute to climate change - the heating of the earth's atmosphere.

Hydrogen homes are fitted with hydrogen cookers, hobs, fires and boilers and a hydrogen meter.

The difference between a hydrogen and natural gas cooker is that the flame burns orange with hydrogen instead of blue.

With hydrogen gas the flame would be orange instead of blue. Credit: PA Images

What is a natural gas?

Natural gases are a mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons. They are naturally occurring and provide warmth for cooking and heating.

Natural gases also fuel power stations which provide electricity to homes and businesses.

The four main natural gases are methane, ethane, butane and propane. Credit: ITV News

What are the supposed benefits of a hydrogen home?

  • Because hydrogen does not emit carbon, less harm is being done to the earth's atmosphere allegedly making it greener.

What concerns are there with using hydrogen?

  • There are concerns that hydrogen is less safe than natural gas as it is more prone to leaking and has a wider explosion range.

  • Although hydrogen can lower carbon emissions and slow global warming, how hydrogen is created is not green as it requires energy to be created in the first place. The problem is that this energy is not necessarily renewable and is often created with carbon-emitting energy sources.

  • A report by energy analysts Cornwall Insight states that hydrogen boilers would result in huge energy bill rises. The report also predicts that hydrogen would cost on average around 70-90% more than natural gases.