Govt’s Grants ‘Not Big Enough Incentive’

The government’s plans to offer grants for low-carbon heat pumps to reduce the number of households using gas boilers do not go far enough, experts have warned.

Last month, the Heat and Buildings Strategy revealed people will be offered a £5,000 government grant to install low-carbon heating systems to replace their old boilers.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, worth £450 million, is being introduced as part of a policy to decarbonise heat and buildings, with funding of £3.9 billion being put towards this.

It hopes these grants, which can be applied for from April 2022, will encourage people to install more energy-efficient heating systems, which will be better for the environment and save them money on their household bills.

If enough people take up these grants, this will help the UK reach its target for all heating systems using low-carbon, or new technologies, to replace new boilers by 2035.

Speaking about the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “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.”

However, some believe the government’s grants are not enough of an incentive to make a huge difference.

For a start, the grants will only fund 90,000 pumps over the next three years, despite there being 25 million homes in the UK with gas boilers, BBC News reports.

In addition to this, these pumps typically cost between £6,000 and £18,000. Therefore, a £5,000 deduction has been classed as “insufficient” to make them comparable in price to gas boilers, particularly for those with large properties.

There is also the cost of insulation and other home improvements that need to be accounted for to help people benefit from the change to heat pumps the most.

Dr David Glew, head of energy efficiency and policy at the Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University, told the news provider: “Gas is actually relatively cheap to heat your home with.”

“Needing to insulate your house might cost you tens of thousands of pounds and you’re only going to be saving several hundreds of pounds, so the economics of that doesn’t really add up,” he went on to say.

A better alternative could be electric boilers, according to The Conversation. As all the electrical energy is turned into heat, they are far more efficient. What’s more, they do not create an extra noise and do not take up much space, unlike air-sourced heat pumps.

They are cheaper to install, do not typically require major construction work, and the cost of running an electric boiler is likely to fall in the future as renewable energy becomes cheaper.

The article concluded: “With electricity provided from renewable and low-carbon sources, a combination of heat pumps and electric boilers for domestic heating and hot water production will cover our energy needs in a sustainable and climate-friendly manner.”


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