The government has increased its air source heat pump grants for homeowners in England and Wales by 50% to £7,500 amid criticism about slow adoption of the low-carbon technology.
The £2,500 in extra support – on top of £5,000 offered – aims to take the cost of installing an air source heat pump below that of the average gas boiler.
The rise, which was announced by the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, last month alongside the watering down of a planned ban on new gas boilers by 2035, comes after the government faced criticism from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) on its home heating policies.
Heat pumps are seen as critical to meeting the UK’s 2035 climate targets by halving the carbon emissions from heating buildings, which still accounts for almost one-quarter of the UK’s fossil fuel demand.
But the government’s stated ambition for 600,000 heat pumps to be installed every year by 2028 has struggled to find public support due to the high upfront costs of installations and a lack of clear information.
The NIC said last week that the current rate of heat pump installation is “not cutting the mustard” and the scheme’s funding needs to increase if more households are to benefit. The scheme’s current budget is underspent, according to PA, as households balk at the cost and complexity of switching.
The infrastructure tsars called on the government to spend up to £4bn every year for the next 12 years to cover the full cost of heat pump installations, and support energy-efficiency improvements for the 1.5 million households on the lowest incomes in England.
It also said the better off should be given access to 0% finance to cover additional costs beyond the heat pump grant and for further funds to be invested to update social housing heating systems.
Around 8m buildings will need to switch from gas boilers, which heat around nine in 10 English properties, to cleaner alternatives by 2035 to meet the UK’s 2050 net zero target, the commission said.
Greg Jackson, the founder of Octopus Energy – which has invested heavily in developing heat pumps – said: “We see enormous demand for heat pumps as they’re three or four times more energy efficient than gas boilers, and with these government grants they’re affordable to install too.”
The government said it has set aside £10m to support innovation to cut installation costs of heat pumps. It is also launching an advertising campaign to promote energy efficiency measures in the homes this winter.
The energy secretary, Claire Coutinho, said: “No one should have to choose between cutting costs and cutting emissions. Our pragmatic approach means we can continue to deliver on our ambitious net zero targets without unfairly hitting the pockets of hardworking families.”