The Prime Minister has promised to make heat pumps more affordable by offering households £5,000 grants to swap their old gas boilers for eco-friendly alternatives.
The funding, which will be available from April, forms part of a £450million Boiler Upgrade Scheme to help install low-carbon systems in millions of homes, however it will only help a tenth of those who qualify.
It comes ahead of the Cop26 UN climate change summit – and is part of a wider £3.9billion boost to decarbonise heating and buildings.
There are around 22million homes in the UK contribute more than a third towards the country’s carbon emissions, which must be slashed to ‘net zero’ by 2050 under the Government’s legal obligations.
Heat pumps – which can cost up to £14,000 to install – will cost the same to buy and run as fossil fuel boilers by 2030 under the Government pledge.
However, the funding will allow just 90,000 heat pump installations over three years – far short of Boris Johnson’s ambition of 600,000 a year by 2028.
Under the plans, green levies on electricity bills will also be removed in an attempt to drive down the cost of heat pumps.
One option is understood to be placing green levies on gas bills instead, despite gas prices soaring 250% due to global shortages.
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.”
But Greenpeace UK said the heat and building strategy has stopped short of what is needed to transform housing into clean, affordable, energy-efficient homes “we all want and need to be living in”.
Caroline Jones, the group’s climate campaigner, said: “More money must be provided to rapidly increase the number of homeowners switching, with full costs covered for families on low incomes.
“A clearer signal would have been a phaseout of new boilers before 2035. All of this must be delivered at a scale and speed the Government hasn’t fully grasped.”
Will I be forced to swap out my gas boiler?
No. Under the scheme, the Government has pledged no one will be forced to remove existing fossil fuel heaters.
Instead, households will install the eco option when they need to be replaced.
Will gas boilers be banned before 2035?
No. As it currently stands, sales will continue as late as 2035 despite looming climate targets.
What are the current costs of going greener?
Replacing a gas boiler with a heat pump could save homeowners in a four-bed house £1,300 a year on their heating bills, according to figures from Rated People.
However, low-carbon heat pumps could add £5,000 to the cost of a new-build, due to often involving underfloor heating and larger radiators. That compares to a £1,000 typical boiler.
What alternatives are there and how much do they cost right now?
We asked Thomas Goodman, construction Expert at MyJobQuote, for some advice on what low-carbon options are available to UK households and how much they would cost to use.
Heat pumps are an effective eco-friendly option that are powered by electricity. They work by using small amounts of electricity to collect heat from cold spaces, which is then released into warm areas.
Both air and ground heat pumps are reliable all year round. They are also classified as a sustainable source of power, as they use natural heat and do not emit any greenhouse gases.
For a typical two or three-bedroom home, you could receive around £1,300 for a ground source heat pump or over £2,500 for an air source heat pump.
Most families should expect a reduction in their energy bills when using a heat pump, as they produce a large amount of heat with just a small electricity output.
Running costs: The running costs range from £870 to over £1,000 per year for a four-person household for both space heating and water.
Cost of installing one: Ground source heat pump – up to £14,000, air source heat pump – up to £11,000.
A biomass boiler is a good green alternative to a gas boiler, as instead of gas, they are mostly powered by burning logs, wood chips, pellets. However, food, industrial and animal waste can also be used.
The process of burning the materials is sustainable, as the level of carbon dioxide produced is equal to the amount released during the plant’s growing state.
But before investing in a biomass boiler, you should be aware of the high upfront cost, as installing this type of boiler can cost anywhere from £5,000 to £19,000.
It can also take up a significant amount of room, so you need to make sure that you have the right amount of space before having the boiler fitted.
Running costs: You can make significant savings with a biomass boiler, as the yearly running costs for an average household tend to be priced at £860 for a wood pellet model or just over £890 for a wood chip biomass boiler.
Cost of installing one: £5,000 to £19,000
These are still at testing stage, but once fully developed, hydrogen boilers will run solely on hydrogen gas or natural gas.
These boilers will use up no no carbon dioxide, and can be manufactured from either water using electricity as a renewable energy source, or from natural gas accompanied by carbon capture and storage.
A hydrogen-ready boiler is intended to be a like-for-like swap for an existing gas boiler, but the cost is unknown, with estimates ranging from £1,500 to £5,000.
Solar photovoltaic panels
Solar photovoltaic panels generate renewable electricity by converting energy from the sun into electricity.
Options include roof panels or ground-standing panels or solar tiles.
The cells work best in high heat.
Cost of installing one: £4,800
Solar water heating
Solar water heating systems, or solar thermal systems, use heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water.
A conventional boiler or immersion heater can then be used to make the water even warmer.
The system works by circulating a liquid through a panel on a roof, or on a wall or ground-mounted system.
The panels absorb heat from the sun, which is used to warm water that is then kept in a cylinder.
Cost of installing one: £5,000