Boris Johnson discusses introduction of heat pumps to UK homes

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As the Government struggles to balance the books amid a major cost of living crisis, industry experts have urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to scrap the UK’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mike Foster from the Energy and Utilities Alliance slammed the subsidy scheme as an “immoral waste of money”, arguing that it only helps rich homeowners install heat pumps. Heat pumps are a low-carbon alternative to gas boilers that the Government is scrambling to roll out at scale to reach its net zero target. This accelerated rollout comes alongside a ban on any new gas boiler installations by 2035.

The technology has been thrust into the spotlight over the past year, particularly as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent energy bills soaring to record levels due to a restricted supply of natural gas.

Aside from being far more energy efficient than a traditional boiler, heat pumps also run on electricity, meaning that over the past year, the technology has been touted to help Britons save on their energy bills.

However, one of the drawbacks of the technology is that it can be prohibitively expensive, costing an average of £13,000 for installing one.

To promote more heat pump installations, the Government has unveiled the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which will offer up to £5,000 in subsidies for households looking to replace their gas boilers.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Foster said: “The Government should absolutely be looking at the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. It is an immoral waste of money.

“It is taxpayer’s money that is being given to people who by definition do not struggle to pay their bills. The average cost of a heat pump under the BUS according to BEIS is £13,000. The Government will pay the first £5,000, and the homeowner will pay the other £8,000.

“Every year, 30,000 get a boon of £5,000 to fit a heat pump. They were probably going to put a heat pump in already, but the Government have now given them £5,000 for it.

“If you can afford the other £8,000, you are by definition not short of a buck or two and that is not where the money should go. In these difficult times, a much better use of the money- the £150million a year- be given to 312,000 homes to have their lofts insulated.”

Many experts regarded boosting insulation measures as one of the fastest ways to permanently lower the energy bills in a household by reducing their reliance on gas.

Jess Ralston, Senior Analyst at the energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) also previously hailed insulation measures saying: “If prices stay high, the Government’s gas subsidy bill would be several times the investment needed to get all 28 million homes in Britain properly insulated.

“Boosting the ECO scheme could well end up being cost neutral on Treasury with insulation cutting gas demand and so the overall price tag of the bailout.”

Speaking of Government funded insulation measures, Mr Foster said: “That is a much better use of the taxpayer’s money, and I as a taxpayer, object to giving a subsidy to people who have got £8,000 at their disposal so that they can go green.

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“Heat pumps do not need this subsidy. I have been told there are waiting lists for people looking to get heat pumps installed, why do you have to subsidise it? You’re giving money away to people who have got it already, and that is immoral in these difficult financial times.”

In September, the Government unveiled a new £1.5billion energy efficiency scheme to upgrade over 130,000 low-income households with energy efficient measures, like external wall and loft insulation, energy efficient doors and windows, heat pumps and solar panels.

This investment in energy efficiency upgrades is tipped to save around £400 to £700 off bills a year for thousands of homes across England.

The pot of money will be made available through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Home Upgrade Grant schemes, which will allow social housing providers and local authorities to submit bids for funding to upgrade the properties of around 130,000 low-income and social households.

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