The government has vowed to push ahead with plans to phase out gas boilers by 2035 (2025 for newbuilds) and promised there would be enough heat pumps and installers to go round.

During a debate in the House of Lords, where peers questioned the cost and technology involved, Lord Callanan, under-secretary for business, energy and industrial strategy (picture, main pic) was quizzed on the final bill for individual households, property owners and tenants – but was unable to give a figure.

Lord Howell of Guildford said that while it made sense to equip newly built homes with hydrogen or heat pumps or other technologies, the cost of retrofitting all existing homes – estimated at anything between £2,500 and £8,000 each – and possibly also having to replace large parts of the gas delivery grid, was going to be, “absolutely astronomical”.

Most effective?

He asked: “Is this really the wisest or most effective use of our national resources in combating worldwide climate change?”

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Baroness Neville-Rolfe (pictured) asked how the government would ensure that the energy and construction industries had capacity to cope with this change.

She added: “I understand that there is currently capacity to install only 30,000 heat pumps a year, whereas the need is estimated to be more than 600,000.”

Lord Callanan replied that there would be enough skilled heat pump installers to deliver its target, while heat pump manufacturers could meet a significant ramp up in demand.

He added: “We are publishing a call for evidence by April to begin a strategic dialogue between government, consumers and industry on affordability and fairness. We have also expanded government support schemes…to those on low incomes, who are likely to benefit from them or to be at risk of fuel poverty.”

11 COMMENTS

  1. It is uneconomical & in many cases physically impossible to retrofit heat pumps to older housing stock. Unless hydrogen becomes a possibility this is just pie in the sky.

  2. I was quite tempted to look into changing the gas boiler in a flat I let out for an electric one when it’s as the end of its life

    A chance conversation with the guy doing the epc leads me to believe that my D rated property would fall to F if I did and therefore i wouldn’t be able to let it.

  3. How can a heat pump be fitted in a flat in a multi storey building with no outside space? Heat pumps are not efficent using standard radiators as the optimum water temperature output from a heat pump is 35 to 40c which is not hot enough for rads. It is fine for underfloor heating. Another badly thought out idea with little regard to reality.

  4. Sheer lunacy. Awful idea for owners, landlords, tenants, the environment. It is a lose-lose decision. Ridiculous to scrap perfectly good boilers (which in itself will be terrible for the environment) to save a relatively small amount of carbon emission, which won’t impact one jot on global climate change. The impact of deforestation and warmongering will eclpse anything this will achieve on carbon reduction, and I doubt there would even be any carbon reduction if the carbon costs of procurement and scrappage were brought into the calculations.

    • So true. It will be the equivalent of the diesel cars fiasco. Government declares they are better for the environment, some of us rush out and buy one thinking we are doing the decent thing and then …. wait a minute… turns out they are a disaster for the environment and the people driving them are pariahs.
      Stupid, knee-jerk policies that are badly thought out. And, sorry to be sceptical but I can’t help but think that somewhere there is a government minister or two with substantial share holdings in…. heat pumps.

  5. First clue to whether he’s talking b***ocks – he’s mentioned hydrogen which is generally an awful fuel and will remain so until we have a massive excess of renewable and nuclear electricity generation. Until we have massive supplies of carbon free lecky, there is no low carbon route to making hydrogen. So anyone suggesting hydrogen as a useful fuel in the short-medium term is talking rubbish.
    Clive is correct that simply replacing an older gas boiler with a heat pump is a non-starter, typically the older the property, the smaller the radiators as they’ve been sized for higher system temperatures that are not economically attainable for any current heat pump. Even new properties typically have under-sized rads as developers a) want to skimp on the price of rads, and b) they want to keep them as small as possible or they over-whelm the tiny rooms in modern shoe box houses.
    Retrofitting under floor heating would be a massive investment unless it was being done alongside other works that involved renewing the floor – and as most new houses have (cold, unheated) solid concrete ground floors, retrofit is a non-starter for them even before you consider the cost.
    I read elsewhere that part of the economic problem is the way green levies are applied to electricity but not gas. There is a valid argument for altering that – so gas prices go up and lecky prices go down. If that happened, then there would be a natural market for heat pumps as they would become cheaper to operate than gas. As it is, allowing for the coefficient of performance (CoP) of heat pumps, they will all cost more to run than gas – CoP is typically a maximum of about 3-4, lower when it’s cold outside, or if you want higher flow temperatures to compensate for under-sized rads, but lecky is typically at least 4 times the price of gas. So at the very best you’ll get parity on running costs, but typically a heat pump will cost more to run. Why pay significantly more for the equipment, knowing that at the very best it will cost the same to run (assuming no expensive breakdowns), but will more likely cost more to run than the cheaper gas boiler !

    • Carbon Tax is levied on Gas Fired Power stations emissions, but that makes electricity more expensive. Will this Government try to increase the tax on gas supplied to domestic properties? Driven by ideology, they could do.

    • Well said, this is what I’ve been saying/arguing, and as others point out, lunacy, so many numbers not there, yet another pie in the sky idea from someone who clearly hasn’t a clue, hydrogen – makes you laugh, and livid! As always the end user that is penalised/blamed.

      Your comment about undersized rads, just over a year ago – we viewed a new build, 4 bed that seemed perfect, my oh my, most rooms where tiny, 1st thing I noticed as soon as I entered was radiator sizes, and I immediately asked, the lady didn’t have a clue, evidently it’s because the rooms are in the small side I said after seeing the 3rd/4th room, but all/most rads where still to small, lol, and all furniture was arranged/bought to try maximise it’s size, like the queen bed in master bedroom that they said was king!! Laughable, really is, needless to say, we were not interested, overpriced shoe box, altho it soon sold 😉

  6. As badly thought out as plans to introduce electric cars, which are fundamentally a good idea to reduce city pollution but require a massive increase in generating capacity and the installation of hundreds of thousands of charging points.
    It’s more sound-bite policy-making like ‘getting Brexit done’ and ‘world-beating test and trace system’.

  7. The push for being carbon neutral by 2050 is a target and something to shoot for. Given the UK contributes less than 1% of global emissions, forcing EPC level C by 2025 (2028 for existing lets) is arbitrary and is a huge and costly imposition just so the Government can show off it’s green credentials. We are all responsible for helping reduce our carbon footprint, yet dumping on landlords is an easy option since there would be little public concern of the fairness of singling us out. They could just as easily legislate that ALL properties being sold after 2025 should comply with EPC level C, but they won’t because it would be political suicide. Meantime, landlords have to, once more, take it up the proverbial!

    • Exactly, yet, they have just give the green light to another coal mine (Whitehaven), hypocrisy, probably backhanders, lol, as it’s always about the £££!

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