The government has announced plans to encourage households to swap gas boilers with low-carbon heating options, including heat pumps.
A £5,000 grant will be offered to people living in England and Wales from next April as part of a £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
Currently, 22 million homes in the UK are heated by natural gas. The government says it wants no new gas boilers to be sold after 2035, following a national commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
Do you have to replace your gas boiler?
You won’t be forced to remove your existing gas boiler. However, the aim is for households to gradually move away from fossil fuel boilers over the next 14 years, with more cost-effective greener alternatives available to make it easier when the time comes to replace your gas boiler.
What is a heat pump and how do they work?
Heat pumps extract warmth from the outside air, the ground or from a water source, and then transfer it at a higher temperature to provide heating and hot water for homes.
Air source heat pumps look like an air-conditioning unit and are installed outside of the home. The size depends on how much heat needs to be generated for your home.
Ground source heat pumps require enough outside space for digging shallow trenches or boreholes.
Heat pumps run on electricity, but are considered to be energy-efficient because they don’t burn fuel to create heat. They’re most effective in homes that are well insulated and not draughty.
How much do heat pumps cost?
At the moment, heat pumps are expensive, with prices reportedly ranging from £5,000 to £18,000, depending on the type of device and size of your home.
However, the government expects prices to come down significantly by 2025. Octopus Energy, a British renewable energy group, has already said they think they can reduce the cost of heat pumps to match natural gas boilers by April 2022.
“Our new grants will help homeowners make the switch sooner, without costing them extra, so that going green is the better choice when their boiler needs an upgrade,” says Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
What other low-carbon heating alternatives are available?
There will need to be a mix of new, low-carbon heating solutions for different property types in different parts of the country, including hydrogen-ready boilers. These appliances are similar to a gas boiler and have the ability to burn both natural gas and hydrogen. So you could make the switch from one to the other, and wouldn’t need to replace a hydrogen-ready boiler in 2035. Linking them to central heating would significantly reduce carbon emissions from residential homes.
How to access the scheme
The £5,000 grants for homeowners will be available from April 2022. Further information on how to apply for a grant will be provided closer to the scheme’s opening date.