The new scheme aims to encourage households to make the switch to a more efficient, low-carbon heating system.
The government has announced that in April 2022, it will offer a £5,000 grant to replace your gas boiler with a low-carbon heating system.
This is part of a £3.9 billion scheme to decarbonise heating and buildings, with £450 million being set aside for the boiler replacement scheme.
The scheme could help the UK reach its target of net zero emissions by 2050. It could also support the new target of all-new heating systems in UK homes by 2035.
Heat pumps are an example of a low-carbon heating system. These run on electricity and extract heat from either the air or the ground.
The price of the pumps ranges from £6000 to £30,000. So, is a £5000 grant enough to make them affordable?
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What are the benefits of heat pumps?
The government hopes that the heat pump system will reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and exposure to global energy price hikes.
This has been a problem for the UK over the last few months, with many energy providers going bust.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:
“Recent volatile global gas prices have highlighted the need to double down on our efforts to reduce Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels and move away from gas boilers over the coming decade to protect consumers in long term.”
The government also claims that the new heat pump systems will support 240,000 jobs across the UK by 2035.
What are heat pumps?
There are two types of heat pump:
Air source heat pumps
Air source heat pumps use air to heat your home.
The pump absorbs heat from the air outside. The air circulates the pump and is compressed to a high temperature.
The system can extract heat from air temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius.
Once the air has been compressed it’s transferred to your home and can be used for heating and hot water.
Ground source heat pumps
Instead of heating up the air, these types of pumps draw the heat from underground.
Ground source heat pumps use a network of pipes that are buried underground. The heat pump itself sits above ground level.
A mixture of water and anti-freeze is pumped around the pipes. This absorbs the naturally-occurring heat that’s stored in the ground.
This is compressed and transferred to your home for heating and hot water.
Both types of pump use electricity. The amount of electricity used should be less than the heat the pumps produce.
How much do heat pumps cost?
According to the Energy Saving Trust, an air heat pump costs between £7,000 to £13,000, and a ground heat pump costs around £20,000 to £30,000.
But these prices could vary depending on what type of house you have and the type of heat pump you choose.
The government claims that low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps will be no more expensive than gas boilers. They could also end up being cheaper to run.
Kwasi Kwarteng says:
“As the technology improves and costs plummet over the next decade, we expect low carbon heating systems will become the obvious, affordable choice for consumers.
"Through our new grant scheme, we will ensure people are able to choose a more efficient alternative in the meantime.”
Do I have to replace my boiler with a heat pump?
It’s not mandatory to replace your boiler with a low-carbon heating system yet - you can still use your gas boiler.
Are there any alternatives to heat pumps?
Hydrogen-ready boilers could be a possible alternative to heat pumps. The only by-product hydrogen produces is water.
Now, boilers use a mixture of gas and hydrogen. According to Worcester Bosch, it’s around 80% gas and 20% hydrogen.
If the government increases the amount of ‘green gases’ it uses, there may not be a need for people to switch their heating systems to electric.
This could be an option in the future when the government is confident that it can supply clean, green fuel to this type of boiler.
Is there anything I can do now to make my home more energy efficient?
There are a couple of things you can do to save energy in your home:
- Turn down your thermostat, even if it’s just by a degree
- Wash your clothes at lower temperatures
- Install loft insulation
- Never leave appliances on standby.
You can find more tips in our energy efficient home guide.
And if you want to make your home feel warmer, take a look at our home warming hacks.