Upfront grants should be offered to help people install low carbon heat pumps, a coalition of campaign groups and businesses has urged.
More than 20 companies, energy suppliers plus green and anti-poverty groups have called for the Government to back a “fair heat deal” to make the transition away from fossil fuel boilers attractive, fair and easy.
They want the Government to ensure it is affordable for every household to install and run a heat pump, to help households benefit from cheaper bills and cosier homes and help tackle the 23% of emissions that come from buildings.
Alongside energy efficiency measures to cut demand for heating, a switch to heat pumps will have the largest role to play in cutting emissions from the sector in the 2020s, the organisations say.
They want to see grants that cover the full cost of heat pumps and insulation for low-income households, while for other people the grants should be offered at a level which makes it the same as replacing a gas boiler.
Air source heat pumps, which work like a fridge in reverse, using electricity to extract warmth in the air to heat and provide hot water to homes, cost about £10,000.
But that cost is expected to fall as what is currently a niche technology is scaled up, and the supporters of the fair heat deal said the subsidies could be reduced over time as prices drop.
The groups also want to see lower running costs for the efficient heat pumps compared to gas boilers, by removing environmental levies from electricity bills, while protecting those at risk of fuel poverty.
There should be incentives that encourage households to make green choices when it comes to their heating systems, such as a lower stamp duty for buyers of low carbon, efficient homes, and zero VAT on green products and works.
And the fair heat deal should also involve a new “warm homes agency” to oversee programmes and help create thousands of green jobs through skills and training, and it should ensure impartial energy advice and support for consumers.
Juliet Phillips, senior policy advisor at climate think tank E3G said: “Moving from a gas boiler to a heat pump is one of the biggest carbon savings a household can make to fight climate change.
“But it must be affordable and we urge the Government to support our fair heat deal to ensure no one is left behind in the green industrial revolution.”
Energy Saving Trust chief executive Mike Thornton said heat pumps were an important low carbon heating technology that will help the UK meet its goal to cut climate emissions to net zero by 2050.
“A fair heat deal will make heat pumps more attractive to householders and help them to switch over to low carbon heating.”
A Business Department spokesperson said more detail to the Government’s approach on heating would be provided in the upcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy.
They added: “We are supporting lower income households and vulnerable people to make homes greener and cut energy bills, and will continue to do so through schemes such as the Home Upgrade Grant and the new Clean Heat Grant from April next year.”