Boris Johnson discusses introduction of heat pumps to UK homes
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The UK’s goal to install heat pumps across British households faces major hurdles as Britons are hesitant to replace gas boilers, it has emerged. Despite the Government’s ambitions to install 600,000 a year by 2028, figures show that the UK’s rollout of heat pumps is still lagging behind due to a number of factors. As the UK scrambles to end its reliance on expensive natural gas imports, heat pumps have been tipped to be one of the primary technologies for decarbonising heating, which is currently dominated by gas boilers.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent wholesale natural gas prices skyrocketing, highly energy-efficient heat pumps, which run on electricity, have also managed to save households hundreds of pounds on their energy bills over the past few years.
Heat pumps work by heat from the ground or the air around a property, increasing it, and moving it into the building, allowing the owner to keep their home at a steady, ambient temperature throughout the day.
Despite the Government’s plans to roll out 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, official figures show that the UK’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme had issued only 8,771 vouchers between 23 May last year, when applications first opened, and the end of November.
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) offers £5,000 grants for the installation of an air source heat pump and £6,000 to install a ground source heat pump, significantly slashing the cost of the low-carbon technology.
In total, the scheme is expected to fund 90,000 installations and will run until the end of March 2025, although experts note that more uptake is needed as reducing residential carbon emissions.
A recent survey by Samsung showed that one of the biggest challenges to this heat pump goal is that currently only 23 percent of current heating industry professionals are already fully trained to be air source heat pump installers and nearly three in five (57 percent) are not considering training at all.
61 percent of those polled attributed the skills gap in low carbon and energy-efficient technology to a lack of understanding about the future potential for heat pumps.
Scott Young, training manager of Samsung Climate Solutions commented: “Our research clearly shows that there are real concerns in the heating industry about the lack of suitable training options available in low carbon tech.”
Other barriers include consumer concern over upfront costs, which could seriously hurt the wallet, and potential disruptions during installation if changes to radiators, pipework or insulation are needed.
Meanwhile, a report last month found that the majority of homeowners are not confident in the low-carbon boiler alternatives, data from a science building centre has revealed.
The Building Research Establishment (BRE) figures show that most UK homeowners do not feel at all confident explaining how heat pumps work (62 percent), and less than half have heard of the Government’s BUS.
According to a survey last June by Public First on behalf of Centrica, only 14 percent of 4,000 UK adults surveyed said that they would choose a heat pump to replace their current gas boilers.
Energy companies and campaigners have repeatedly stressed that innovations in technology are making it even easier for households to switch from gas boilers to heat pumps.
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To trigger the major heat pump rollout across the UK, energy companies including Octopus Energy and British Gas have offered major incentives to slash installation costs.
Octopus Energy is partnering with Lloyds Banking Group to provide heat pump installations which, when used in conjunction with the Government scheme, could mean heat pumps for some homes will cost less than many gas boilers.
Under the pilot scheme, Halifax mortgage customers will be able to get a heat pump set up from as little as £2,000. Octopus Energy will provide and install the heat pumps, while Halifax will award a £1,000 Green Living Reward towards the costs.
Meanwhile British Gas recently announced that will price match any offer by rival competitors for accredited installations. The firm has set a starting price of £2,999 per install for an air source heat pump. This is just £1 less than the £3,000 starting price for a standard installation offered by rival company Octopus Energy.
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