Boiler upgrade scheme: When can you claim £5,000 to swap gas for a heat pump?

·Political Correspondent - Yahoo News UK
·4 min read
Air source heat pump installers from Solaris Energy installing a Vaillant Arotherm plus 7kw air source heat pump unit into a 1930s built house in Folkestone, United Kingdom on the 20th of September 2021.  With gas prices increasing and the increasing need to reduce fossil fuel air source heat pumps are slowly starting to replace the gas boiler use in properties in the UK. (photo by Andrew Aitchison / In pictures via Getty Images)
The government's new grant will help 90,000 homes install heat pumps. (Getty Images)

The government has announced a boiler upgrade scheme that will provide tens of thousands of households with £5,000 each to replace fossil fuel boilers with heat pumps.

The government also confirmed a target for all new heating system installations to be low carbon by 2035, and insisted families will not be forced to remove their existing fossil fuel boilers.

Switching to low carbon heating in the coming years will cut emissions and reduce the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels and exposure to global price spikes in gas, ministers said.

Here are some of the key questions around the grant.

Watch: Which countries release the most CO2?

Why does the government want us to install heat pumps?

Heat pumps produce considerably fewer emissions than fossil fuel boilers, and the scheme comes as part of the government's push towards net zero by 2050. 

The pumps, which cost around £10,000 on average, resemble air conditioning units and use electricity to extract energy from the air outside to provide heating. Other types draw energy from the ground or water. 

In contrast, traditional gas boilers cost between £1,000 to £3,000 on average. 

It is estimated the plans will cost £450 million via the Heat and Buildings Strategy, benefiting around 90,000 households.

When will the £5,000 boiler grant be available?

The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy said the scheme will open in April 2022, and that the government will seek to work with industries to reduce the cost of heat pumps to the same cost as fossil fuel boilers by 2030. 

Read more:

How to replace your old gas boiler with a heat pump

Green homes could cut energy bills and give UK economy £10bn boost

Plan to phase out new gas boilers by 2035 'does not go far enough'

How do I apply?

The government has not yet provided the details of how to apply for the scheme.

Who is eligible?

Exactly who will be able to claim the grant remains unclear, and the government has not announced whether or not the scheme will be means-tested.

Previous schemes such as the Green Homes Grant, which provided vouchers for making energy efficient home improvements, were not means-tested by wealth and were available for homeowners as well as landlords.

What is the government saying?

Boris Johnson is enthusiastic about the scheme, saying it will enable homeowners to become greener without "costing them extra". 

He said: "As we clean up the way we heat our homes over the next decade, we are backing our brilliant innovators to make clean technology like heat pumps as cheap to buy and run as gas boilers – supporting thousands of green jobs," he said. 

File photo dated 22/01/15 of controls on a domestic gas boiler. Consumers will need
The government is seeking to ensure no new houses are built with fossil fuel boilers after 2035. (PA Images)

"Our new grants will help homeowners make the switch sooner, without costing them extra, so that going green is the better choice when their boiler needs an upgrade."

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said instability in the energy market makes switching to heat pumps a sensible and attractive choice. 

He said: "Recent volatile global gas prices have highlighted the need to double down on our efforts to reduce Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels and move away from gas boilers over the coming decade to protect consumers in long term. "

Does the government want everyone to have heat pumps?

The government said it will seek to ensure no new houses are built with gas boilers by 2035, but also says existing households will not be forced to remove their pre-existing gas boilers. 

However international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan hinted that that may not be a permanent arrangement. 

“In the short term, yes, of course this is a voluntary scheme," she told Sky News.

Watch: Boiler upgrade scheme: Households will be able to apply for £5,000 grant to replace gas boilers

“There will be a point at which that changes but, yes, for now that’s the case.”

She said the heat pump scheme will help those who "really want to crack on, to give them effectively a cost-neutral opportunity to change the gas boiler they have now". 

Will the scheme be effective?

The plans, which will affect 90,000 homes out of a total of 27.8 million, have been criticised by the Green Party for not being ambitious enough.

Caroline Lucas MP said heat pumps would be ineffective without proper insulation. 

"A heat pump in a poorly insulated home just won't work," she said. 

"It’s like buying a teapot with cracks in it: leaky, inefficient and a waste of money."

Home insulation in the UK has become a growing topic of conversation in recent weeks after Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, staged protests blocking busy roads sparking backlash both from the government and the public. 

The government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme comes the week before COP26, when representatives from almost 200 countries will meet in Glasgow to discuss how to tackle the existential threat of climate change.

Watch: Who is 'Insulate Britain'?

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