The UK government introduced a new grant scheme in March 2022 to incentivise people to replace their old gas boilers with low-carbon heating options, including heat pumps.
Boris Johnson’s administration made £5,000 grants available to households to help them to install low-carbon technologies.
The plan aims to make heat pumps – which run on electricity and work like a fridge in reverse to extract energy from the air or ground – no more expensive to install than a traditional boiler.
But environmentalists criticised the three-year scheme – which would actually contribute towards just one in 250 boilers being replaced – for not going far enough.
Out of the 22 million gas-heated households in the UK, only 90,000 would be able to benefit from £5,000 grants under the £450m plan, they warned.
While the new incentive aims to make the UK’s homes greener, the government pledged homeowners would not be forced to make the low-carbon switch when replacing existing boilers.
But for those who want to choose a more environmentally-friendly option, the grant is available to reduce the considerable installation cost, which is around £10,000 on average for heat pumps.
Instead of forcing people into making an immediate switch, the grants aim to encourage homeowners to make green choices when the time comes to replace their old boilers.
Octopus Energy, a renewable energy group, pledged that it would install heat pumps for about the same cost as gas boilers in support of the grant scheme’s launch.
For its part, the government says its ultimate goal is to see households “gradually move away” from fossil fuel boilers “in an affordable, practical and fair way” over the next 14 years.
But speaking about the upgrade scheme in October 2021, Mike Childs from Friends of the Earth said: “£450m pounds delivered via individual £5,000 grants means 90,000 heat pump installations over three years.
“That just isn’t very much, and won’t meet the prime minister’s ambition of 600,000 a year by 2028.”