The government has announced that it is to introduce a grant of up to £5,000 to homeowners for low carbon heat pumps to replace gas boilers in homes across England and Wales. The move follows the closure of the Green Homes Grant scheme and has been part of a long-awaited plan to support households and landlords make energy-efficient improvements. The grants align with the Government’s decision to ‘ban’ the installation of new gas boilers from 2035. Whilst a step in the right direction, the Government’s decision has been criticised for not reaching far enough and falling short of expectations. In this article we cover the government’s plans and outline some of the concerns raised by key players in the industry.
What does the Government’s boiler ban mean?
The government has announced that it will ‘ban’ the installation of new gas boiler from 2035 as part of its net-zero strategy. In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to enshrine its target of bringing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 in law. Cutting out the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels is crucial if the Government wants to achieve this goal. Phasing out of coal from the national grid has helped the UK reduce its emissions but its infrastructure’s reliance on gas may jeopardize the Government’s plans.
Therefore, with gas contributing to 78% of the total energy used for heating in buildings (EDF Energy), the government has sought to introduce a ban on the further use of gas-powered systems from 2035. However, unlike the government’s commitment to net zero, the so-called ‘ban’ has not received legal backing so the level of its future enforcement will be interesting.
What is the Government’s grant programme?
As a result of this commitment, the Government has also introduced grants of up to £5,000 from April 2022 for up to 90,000 homes in England and Wales to replace their gas boilers with low carbon heat pumps in line with its intentions to decrease its dependence on gas and to ease the ‘ban’ into effect. The idea is that homeowners, small landlords and private landlords will be encouraged to switch to these heat pumps and low-carbon alternatives when their current boilers need replacing. New build properties and social housing will not be eligible for the grant.
These cleaner air-source heat pumps, depending on their brand and the size of the property, cost between £8,000 and £17,000. When one of these pumps is fitted, the installation company will apply for the grant on behalf of the customer and discount this from the invoice. It is believed that homeowners in receipt of the grant will effectively pay the same as if they were installing a similar gas boiler.
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Are these changes sufficient?
Whilst the introduction of these bans and grants marks a part of the Government’s net-zero goal, concerns have been raised by the scope and adequacy of the new measures. Policy Manager, Timothy Douglas, at ARLA Propertymark stated that the Government missed a ‘vital opportunity’ to provide adequate financial support and incentives to ensure that it meets its decarbonisation targets. He considers that the package does not recognise the varying factors to play, such as age, type and condition, that will skew and affect the costs of bringing properties up to standard. Head of Policy, Mike Childs, at Friends of the Earth has also stated that more money should be given upfront to make heat pumps affordable.
With the grant to take effect in April 2022, we will have to wait and see whether it is sufficient but calls from industry leaders might influence a change in tactic.
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