Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants 600,000 heat pumps constructed every year by 2028 as part of his “net-zero” carbon emissions goal.
Sir John Armitt, the Government’s infrastructure head, believes that most households would refuse to spend £5,000 to £15,000 on a heat pump when a new gas boiler costs only £1,500. Thus, he suggested banning the sale of new gas boilers whereas households will be obliged to make the changeover.
The International Energy Agency also stated that gas boiler sales should end after 2025 if the UK is seriously considering the net-zero claim.
Following up on a scheme announced in October 2021, the UK government said that beginning in April, it will grant £5,000 to households to install air source heat pumps, covering between 75% and 50% of the cost.
For ground source heat pumps or water-source heat pumps, the government also pledged to provide £6,000, which will cover between 50% and 30% of the cost of the equipment, respectively.
“Decarbonising British homes will play a vital role in delivering Net Zero, and as this report shows much will depend on the skills and effort of plumbers and heat installers,” says Conservative MP Peter Aldous.
However, the cost of installation may be much higher.
In England and Wales, the government has put aside £450 million which can cater only to a maximum of 90,000 boilers as the UK’s expected household population will be 27.8 million.
Visioned to decrease gas boilers as the UK’s central mainstay of heating, an electric heat pump functions similarly to a reverse refrigerator, taking heat from the air, the earth, or a local water supply before concentrating and transferring it indoors.
According to GreenMatch.co.uk, heat pump prices are “typically costly, taking into consideration the installation.” An air to water heat pump can cost anywhere between £7,000 and £18,000, while ground source heat pumps might cost as much as £45,000.
The cost of running a heat pump is determined by the size and insulating properties of your home.
The government has a legal commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but doing so would be difficult as living costs rise, according to Mike Foster, CEO of the Energy and Utilities Alliance.
“Some of the options put forward to achieve net-zero homes involve eye-watering sums of money, which frankly, people do not have.”
On the other hand, even heat pump manufacturers are sceptical about scrapping gas boilers. Christian Engelke, technical director at Viessmann, said “heat pumps are not the only game in town”.
Engelke called for a mixed approach, including hydrogen boilers, hybrid heating systems, and fuel-cell boilers. “This is on top of improving leaky and inefficient housing through insulation,” he said.
“They will not suit every UK property, and it is unrealistic to expect the nation, its heating industry or the electricity grid to embark on a mass rush to adopt heat pumps – especially as the industry is struggling to meet demand right now,” Engelke closed.