The UK Government has announced that families can install a heat pump for cheaper than the average gas boiler, thanks to an increase in government grants available.
As promised by the Prime Minister as part of the government’s pragmatic approach to net zero, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme will offer £7,500 towards the cost of a new heat pump – a 50 per cent increase in the support available for air source models and making it one of the most generous schemes in Europe.
In New Radnor, heat pumps are a necessity as a high proportionate amount of houses in the village are not connected to the main gas network.
Jeff King lives in New Radnor and his background in senior project management in London helped him turn his attention to his own property in the village, which needed refurbishment. He received the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to install his system in his home.
"I've bought a 200-year-old place in New Radnor. It had an antiquated heating system. I'm used to going into things in a lot of detail and understanding the technical aspects of things. The brook runs alongside the northern and eastern boundaries, so I placed my order with a local company for a water source heat pump system to be installed. It was installed in the early part of last year."
The hope was to use the resources of the river that runs alongside his home, but when that ran dry he needed to get a stand-by system put in. "That system relies on an air source. I have two different heat pumps both serving the same property.
"I've taken on a project with this house. With old properties, it's a never-ending project," Jeff says. "I had the water source installed under the RHI scheme, so I get the grant money coming back over a period of seven years."
Jeff believes the grant is a good thing, but notes that more can still be done, highlighting the wind farm towards Llandrindod Wells. "The whole grant system needs to be more carefully managed and policed. That scheme should never have got the approval and never should have secured a grant. I think the Government running a grant scheme to support green energy installations is a good thing, but I think it should be more intelligently managed to make sure that what they're paying grants for represents good, viable schemes that are reasonable value for money.
"One of the downsides of green energy is it is expensive to install and it is expensive to run. But without Government grant funding, they wouldn't get off the ground. As time goes on, these schemes will become more normal and will be the norm of what should be installed. In New Radnor, it's a no-brainer. Your options are electricity or fuel oil, so it makes sense here."
Also in New Radnor, Sue Norton had her heat pump installed through the Welsh Government-funded programme, Powys Energy Saving Scheme. She said having it installed has helped her and her family become more aware of energy consumption. "It has made us even more aware of what energy we are using and the optimum time to use it, to make use of the electricity being generated. Being retired has the advantage of changing habits, showering, using the oven to batch cook when electricity is being generated, and reducing our energy costs.
"Given the grant was 100% of the installation cost, this ensured that any cost savings with electricity generated means we benefit from those cost savings immediately. The 100% funding ensured that our house was at the optimum level of energy efficiency to ensure the system worked efficiently and the energy savings were as high as possible. "
Since having the pump fitted, Sue's home has reduced cold spots and has seen a decrease in her outgoings. "We have had the ASHP for 9 months now. It was fitted on the coldest days of January. Our house no longer has cold spots! Our electricity consumption has risen, but as we are no longer purchasing oil, we are already making a saving on our heating costs. We are selling surplus electricity back to the grid. We are also reducing our carbon footprint with an estimated 23 tonnes of CO2 over 10 years."
Estimates place the typical cost of buying and installing a gas boiler at between £2,500 and £3,000 and starting prices for heat pumps can now be below this for some households when taking advantage of the grant and additional discounts offered by energy suppliers.
The increased grants form part of the government’s approach to reaching net zero – reducing costs on British families while still meeting international commitments.
Fay Jones, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: "Really happy that the Boiler Upgrade Scheme is now offering £7,500 towards the cost of a new heat pump – a 50% increase in the support available for air source models, making it one of the most generous schemes in Europe.
This is part of the Government’s pragmatic approach to net zero which will ensure we can continue delivering on obligations without financially penalising people. It will also see the ban on oil-fired boilers being delayed until 2035 and I am sure both measures will be welcomed, particularly in especially rural areas of Brecon and Radnorshire that are off the gas grid like much of Radnorshire.
Rural homes also need as many diverse heating options as possible, including biomass boilers, so the continued support for these is something I will continue to make the case for in Government as well.”
The UK government have also launched ‘Welcome Home to Energy Efficiency’ a new campaign to help people improve the energy efficiency of their home and lower their bills over the winter, as well as making £10 million available through the Heat Pump Ready programme to support innovation in the heat pump sector to cut installation costs even further.
As a result of the increased grant funding, thousands of families up and down the country have the chance to upgrade their heating to a cleaner alternative for less. The scheme has also been extended by three years to 2028, giving people more time to take advantage of the opportunity.
Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: “No one should have to choose between cutting costs and cutting emissions - our pragmatic approach means we can continue to deliver on our ambitious net zero targets without unfairly hitting the pockets of hardworking families.
"From today, for some households starting prices for heat pumps could now be below the average gas boiler, as we have increased the cash grant by 50 per cent to £7,500 – making our scheme one of the most generous in Europe.
“This will help thousands of people across the country reduce their energy use and keep their homes warm.”
Eligibility for the grant can be found by visiting the GOV.UK website, anyone interested just needs to agree to a quote for the work with an MCS-certified installer, who will then do all the paperwork. Ofgem will simply contact the customer after that to confirm they would like to proceed.