The government has announced proposals to decarbonise UK homes through which households will be offered grants to install heat pumps.
With homes said to account for 13% of the UK’s carbons emissions, the latest proposals aim to ensure that heat pumps are no more expensive to buy and run for consumers than fossil fuel boilers. The government also confirmed its ambition for all new heating systems installed in UK homes to be low carbon from 2035.
Under the proposals, some households will be able to access £5,000 worth of grants designed to incentivize the installation of low-carbon heating systems, particularly at the point when they are considering replacing or upgrading their current boiler.
Last week, a YouGov poll found that three in five of the British public had either never heard of, or barely knew anything about, heat pumps.
Two weeks in advance of the COP26 summit to be held in Glasgow, the government hopes that encouraging a move away from gas and oil boilers will both reduce the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels and its exposure to global price spikes, whilst supporting up to 240,000 jobs by 2035.
Announcing the proposals, Prime Minister Boris Johnson 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.”
The latest proposals appear to have received some support from both industry and environmental groups.
Simone Rossi, Chief Executive of EDF Energy UK Simone Rossi, said: “Moving away from fossil fuel heating to electric heat pumps will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our homes and could also protect consumers from future spikes in wholesale gas prices.”
Joe Tetlow, senior political adviser at Green Alliance, said: “The pledge to phase out gas boilers by 2035 is truly world-leading and demonstrates serious climate leadership ahead of COP26.”
The left-leaning think tank, the Institute of Public Policy Research, also said the government appeared to be heading in the right direction. It did however suggest that the grants were not generous enough, and called for the sale of new oil fired boilers to be banned by 2028, with new gas boilers prohibited by 2033.
The government’s proposals have though been attacked by political opponents.
Ed Miliband, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary responded by saying: “As millions of families face an energy and cost of living crisis, this is a meagre, unambitious and wholly inadequate response.”
Wera Hobhouse MP, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change described the plans as “a kick in the teeth for families across the country facing soaring energy bills this winter”, arguing they will do little to help people out of fuel poverty and hardly make a dent in the emissions produced from homes.
Meanwhile, Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas wrote on Twitter: “We can’t wait till 2030 to get costs down – we need larger grants and a major insulation plan now”.
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is part of a wider £3.9 billion funding programme designed to support decarbonising heat and buildings from 2022 to 2025.
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