The government yesterday announced that it will offer households in England and Wales grants of £5,000 from next April to help them replace old gas boilers with low carbon heat pumps.
As part of its Heat and Buildings Strategy, £450m has been allocated to the boiler upgrade scheme, which will run over three years and serve 90,000 homes.
The government says this will boost demand for the pumps, but critics say the plan does not go far enough.
Homeowners will be encouraged to switch to a heat pump or other low-carbon technology when their current boiler needs replacing.
An air-source heat pump costs between £6,000 and £18,000, depending on the type installed and the size of a property.
Writing in the Sun, prime minister Boris Johnson said: “The Greenshirts of the Boiler Police are not going to kick in your door with their sandal-clad feet and seize, at carrot-point, your trusty old combi.”
But with around 27.8 million households in the UK, as per the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, and only enough funding for 90,000 homes, who will be eligible for the grants?
All homeowners, small landlords and private landlords in England and Wales will be eligible for the Boiler Upgrade scheme. However, it will not be made available to social housing and new build properties.
Companies installing the heat pumps will apply for the grant on behalf of their customers, and the grant amount will be discounted from the total price homeowners pay.
The government scheme will replace systems that use fossil fuels, such as gas boilers, as these are damaging to the environment because they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
But the government has stressed that households will not be forced to remove them. Instead, it aims for the sale of new gas boilers to end in the coming 14 years.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the boiler scheme will support the government’s target for all new heating systems installed in UK homes by 2035 to use low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps.
The upgrade scheme comes into effect in April 2022.
Ross Counsell, chartered surveyor and director at GoodMove, commented: “Ministers yesterday announced plans for £5,000 grants to allow people to install home heat pumps and other low-carbon boiler replacements as part of a wider heat and buildings strategy. Although this may sound promising, I believe these sums of money are not sufficient to solve this crisis and could actually run the risk of causing further issues for homeowners.
“You just have to look at the poorly thought out Green Homes Grant which left administration costs of over £1,000 for some homeowners according to the National Audit Office (NAO). For many low-income families, this sum is extremely damaging and sees just how poorly thought out and underfunded these schemes have been.
“Furthermore, the current energy crisis has starkly demonstrated just how lagging the UK is on future-proofing homes from fossil-fuel dependency. Unfortunately, the lack of government investment in insulation and heat-pump technology means the UK has some of the oldest and leakiest housing stock in Western Europe.
“The initiative of these efforts to future proof homes is a step in the right direction for the government. However, a concise roadmap to phase out new boilers out by 2035, with significant funding would have been much more effective.
“If homeowners are looking to take this into their own hands, there are many ways they can raise the sustainability of their home – and in the long run save on bills. With the winter months on the horizon, home insulation would be a great investment, and although the upfront cost can start from £250, in the long run, they can expect to save around £150 a year on bills.”