Popular YouTuber and building expert Roger Bisby has warned landlords and homeowners that plans to ditch gas boilers for heat pumps are a “car crash coming in slow motion”.

The government hopes to fit 5.5 million heat pumps in UK homes by 2030 with the aim of phasing out all gas boilers by 2035, while landlords tasked with raising the energy efficiency rating of all their properties to at least band C by 2028 are being encouraged to consider green alternatives.

However, Bisby tells the 200,000 people on the Skill Builder channel who watched his video so far that after getting a £4,000 government grant for a heat pump, you’d have to spend £16,000 to make it work.

He also reckons that running a heat pump is roughly three times more expensive than running a gas boiler. “After a couple of years of having one, people see their house isn’t warm – you’re paying three times as much for your fuel bills,” he says.

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Lovely houses

“They might work in lovely houses that are beautifully insulated and draft-proof but they don’t work well enough in our housing stock.”

Bisby explains that a heat pump is like a fridge in reverse: a big box is hung on the wall with a fan inside that sucks in hot air which it sends into the house in a couple of pipes.

A buffer tank is used to distribute heat into the house and produce hot water. “I’ve put them on a patio and people say their neighbours complain about the noise of the fan,” he says.

Nottingham landlord Tricia Urquhart tells LandlordZONE that heat pumps are not a financially viable solution for most people. She says: “On an electricity-only estate where I own a BTL, houses have storage heaters, electric radiators and one has a heat pump – yet every EPC (bar one with storage heaters due to expire shortly) is a D or E, so even if you fit the government’s preferred electric heat source, the property would still be un-lettable under the EPC C proposals about to be put before Parliament.”

Watch Bisby’s video

10 COMMENTS

  1. I completely agree. Air source heat pumps are not the answer for older housing stock and until the EPC fiasco is sorted who knows what the solution will be to raise the PRS stock to a C! Lets hope that some sense comes out of the impending legislation and that the first resolution is to give us EPCs that we can work with before decisions on solutions to improve efficiency and green credentials need to be made. Currently I feel as a LL that I am shooting in the dark and the only resolution I see is planning my exit strategy!

  2. Heat pumps not fit for purpose in most housing stock. If anyone was serious about climate change / carbon emissions etc then all housing – PRS, local authority & especially owner occupier (as that is the vast majority) should have minimum EPC ratings.

    It’d make more sense to have all properties at say, “D” rather than just the approx 20% of PRS properties at B.

    But it won’t happen as virtually no-one really cares enough about it. Even those with children & grand children. All governments priority is votes, & because people don’t care enough about the planet to want to spend their own money on it, they wouldn’t vote for a government that forces them to improve their own houses – they’d rather someone else (landlords, then in turn tenants) pays for it even though it’s not an adequate solution.

  3. What a depressing article that offers no hope, no solutions, no alternatives. You can do better than this!!

    Everyone in the industry knows thermal efficiency has to come first. Existing stock desperately needs retrofitting. Government is promoting heat pumps for new build, where high thermal values are easily attainable.

    It’s strange, I’m seeing lots of articles trashing heat pump’s at the moment. Just when the government are rumoured to be be reconsidering restricting use of gas boilers from 2025…

  4. Why the mad rush? With a stated aim of being carbon free by 2050, there is still a lot of time to look at alternatives such as hydrogen. Spending a ton of cash on heat pumps will end up being like the scandal we had with diesel cars, where we were encouraged to buy-in to a lower carbon solution only to be told later they are not suitable and either scrap them of face levies in towns for using them! I blame Carrie Symonds. She’s pulling Boris’ eco strings.

    • Absolutely right about the diesel cars. The same applies to smart meters – another debacle. First gen ones all had to be replaced as soon as the energy supplier changed.

  5. I was well aware more than 5 years ago of the govt direction of travel with EPC’s the only change really is that they have accelerated the plans by bringing dates forward.

    I know the way govt works… they initially flag proposals of any sort and then gradually tighten the screws (Same with EICR where govt raised the pressure and in the middle of the pandemic brought them in)
    Let’s face it, govt’s of all colours don’t reduce standards.

    With that in mind I set about assessing all of my properties and simply sold those that needed more than a couple of grand to get to C, anything more means its cheaper to pay the fees to sell and replace with modern units. Plus, modern units are future proofed to a degree when compared to old property.

    Now all my portfolio is C with just one easy fix D rated flat.

    This opportunity will not remain forever because sooner or later the govt in order to meet its climate change goals are going to have to introduce EPC’s or something similar across ALL housing stock and at that point it will be far more difficult to offload dud properties.

    I’ve watched Roger Bisby’s video on this and he puts into very simple words the dilemmas facing us all with regard to heat pumps of any type.

  6. I wasn’t aware of the operational issues highlighted here, which are illuminating, but I already had a strong feeling that retrofitting is a terrible idea, just based on common sense. It will cost a huge amount of money, it will waste a lot of perfectly good low energy gas boilers with plenty life still in them, which will need to be scrapped, and their manufacture, delivery, installation etc will in itself be hugely costly and detrimental to the environment.

  7. The laws of physics apply to heat pumps. They will only transfer two and a half times the amount of power absorbed by the heat pump motor itself, i.e for a 1Kw motor, 2 1/2 Kw are transferred under ideal conditions.
    As 1 Kw of electricity is approx. 3 times the cost of 1Kw of gas you are paying more to run it than you can ever save (?).
    This demonstrates that politicians and Civil Service heads do NOT understand engineering and physics.

    • Correct – except that good ones can reach a CoP (Coefficient of Performance) of around 3 or more in heating mode. As a quick rule of thumb, I work on a CoP of 3. But as long as lecky bills have all the various extra green taxes and gas doesn’t, it won’t be cost effective to switch for anyone on mains gas.
      And of course, there’s the not so minor detail that almost all the time, and especially during the heating season, we have a significant amount of fossil fuelled lecky generation. Put simply, almost all the time, any extra demand on the grid is met by opening the taps on a gas turbine plant somewhere – the nukes are maxed out, interconnects from abroad are mostly maxed out (and don’t forget that imported continental power includes coal generation in Germany using dirty Polish coal since they shut their nukes down as a political move), and renewables are generally maxed out as well. So the only plant with spare capacity is fossil fuelled.
      I really really doubt that running a gas turbine to make lecky, and then using that lecky to run a heat pump, is more efficient than just running an efficient gas boiler – more so in the depths of winter when many heat pumps start losing efficiency.

      Now when we get that extra 10GW, 20GW, or so of nuclear on-line then things will be different … Oh look, there’s a porcine aerobatics team practicing over my house 😀

      But this is not all about the engineering and physics – there’s a lot of politics involved. And BTW – there are a lot of good civil servants who do understand all this (I’m one of them, though I’m not in any way involved in this area). But what comes out of the CS gets filtered according to what the ministers want to project.

  8. heat pumps are fine if you have a fully insulated home with a fair bit of ground around , you live in a row of terraced houses with little in the way of garden and pumps in every house wont work

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