The government has announced a new grant to subsidy homeowners switching from gas boiler powered central heating to heat pumps. The announcement comes as part of the government's green strategy, which includes phasing out the sales of new gas boilers by 2035.
As far as different types of heating go, heat pumps are an environmentally sound solution that could, if implemented en masse, help the UK reach its net zero 2050 target. However, scientists and climate experts are already pointing out that the amount allocated for the grant is not nearly enough to cover enough homes.
What are heat pumps?
Heat pumps extract warmth from the air, ground, or water source outside, in a mechanism that is a little bit like a fridge working in reverse. They are typically installed outside and look similar to air conditioning units.
Heat pumps are not completely carbon neutral because they need electricity to work, but they generally are very efficient at converting energy, making them a better option than gas boilers.
Heat pumps, if correctly installed, do a good job at keeping homes warm and have the additional benefit of maintaining a steady indoor temperature, without the need to quickly heat a home that is cold.
What is the new heat pump grant?
The heat pump grant will make £5,000 per household available when a homeowner chooses to replace a traditional gas boiler with a heat pump system. A total of £450 million is being allocated for the scheme, which will go live next April.
- Here are the different types of boilers explained.
What are the potential problems with the grant?
The most obvious problem, which has already been pointed out by climate and sustainability experts, is that the money allocated is just not sufficient to cover enough homes. The individual grant amount of £5,000 is also not very much, considering that heat pumps very often need to be installed in combination with loft insulation, wall insulation, and more in order to work properly.
Experts are saying that the current grant will likely benefit only wealthier homeowners who are able to afford expensive insulation projects. The cost of heat pumps themselves already adds up to around £6,000-£10,000.
Ross Counsell, chartered surveyor and director at GoodMove, said that although the £5,000 grant '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.'
Ross added that '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.'
Although the grant is a step in the right direction, it's unlikely to impact enough homes to significantly reduce the current levels of pollution and carbon footprint from gas boilers.