Why fearmongering on low carbon heat is mainly hot air. Making the cheaper and cleaner option an easy choice when a boiler breaks down is vital to make sure we can stay warm at home without warming up the planet. Our homes are now front and centre of the net zero debate. Without tackling emissions from the UK’s 25 million gas boilers or insulating homes in all corners of the country, we’ll miss our world-beating climate goals. None of these changes to our homes come for free, of course, but there are ever-more reasons to believe that costs for households can be entirely manageable, especially if the government plays its cards right. First up is the notion that households will be forced to ‘rip out’ gas boilers, replacing them instead with low carbon heat pumps, apparently at great cost. Energy regulator Ofgem has found that high upfront cost is the main factor limiting heat pump uptake, the key concern for 70 per cent of Britons who aren’t currently keen on moving to low carbon heat. Getting this one right is key. Fortunately, there is a clear downward trajectory for up-front costs. Energy retailer Octopus has announced plans to slash the cost of an installed heat pump to £5,500 within 18 months, down from £8,000 to £10,000 currently. Add to this government support that will be available through the Clean Heat Grant from April 2022 and upfront costs could be as low as £1,500, cheaper than a new gas boiler. For now, higher running costs of electric heat also pose problems – but again change is on the way. Enthusiasm for heat pumps can’t skirt one unavoidable issue: vast numbers of British homes and flats leak too much warmth through walls, windows and roofs. The recently pulled Green Homes Grant showed huge appetite for home efficiency upgrades, although flaws in the scheme saw it unable to deliver. This soaring demand, though, will surely raise enthusiasm for Whitehall to deliver an ambitious replacement, backed with the long-term support needed to improve millions of homes. Replacing this is a clear priority for the government’s imminent strategy to decarbonise homes and buildings.
iNews 9th June 2021 read more »