The government has set out its plan to incentivise people to install low carbon heating systems to reduce the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels

Through the Heat and Buildings Strategy, the government has set out its plan to incentivise people to install low carbon heating systems in a simple, fair and cheap way as they come to replace their old boilers over the coming decade.

This aims to reduce the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels and exposure to global price spikes, whilst supporting up to 240,000 jobs across the UK by 2035.

Boiler Upgrade Scheme

New grants of £5,000 will be available from April next year to encourage homeowners to install more efficient, low carbon heating systems through a new £450m 3-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

These grants mean people choosing to install a heat pump will pay a similar amount as if they were installing a traditional gas boiler.

The £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme is part of more than £3.9bn of new funding being announced by the government for decarbonising heat and buildings.

This will fund the next 3 years of investment through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, the Home Upgrade Grant scheme, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and the Heat Networks Transformation Programme and will reduce carbon emissions from public buildings through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

The government and industry will also work together to help meet the aim of heat pumps costing the same to buy and run as fossil fuel boilers by 2030.

‘Making the switch sooner’

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.

“Our new grants will help homeowners make the switch sooner, without costing them extra, so that going green is the better choice when their boiler needs an upgrade.”

Greg Jackson, CEO and founder of Octopus Energy, said: “This Heat and Buildings Strategy will help kick-start a cheap clean heating revolution, by bringing prices down for households and allowing companies to invest in scaling up their clean heating operations.

“When the new scheme launches in April, Octopus Energy will install heat pumps for about the same cost as gas boilers.

“Electric heat pumps are more efficient, safer and cleaner than gas boilers and can help make homes more comfortable with less energy.

“Today we’ve crossed a massive milestone in our fight against climate change and to reduce Britain’s reliance on expensive, dirty gas.”

Matthew Fell, CBI chief policy director, commented: “£5,000 heat pump grants will help get the ball rolling when it comes to decarbonising homes across the UK.

“The government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy provides a golden opportunity for both the public and private sector to pick up the pace of progress to net zero.

“There’s no doubt that the scale of the challenge is considerable. These welcome measures – including the 2035 phase out of new gas boilers – will help consumers and business better prepare to change the way they heat their homes and buildings.

“Government must now support this valuable work with a clear delivery plan for consumers, businesses and local authorities.

“The time is now to accelerate low carbon heat and energy efficiency solutions, grow the number of green jobs across the UK, and further support the government’s net zero ambitions.”

‘A net-zero future should not just rest on the shoulders of homeowners’

Asif Din, sustainability director, Perkins&Will, said: “The focus on decreasing the UK’s housing stock’s emissions through energy-efficient heat pumps is welcome.

“However, a drive towards a net-zero future should not just rest on the shoulders of homeowners. It must also be the responsibility of corporate landlords and include the operational and embodied carbon associated with commercial buildings they own and the construction activity that occurs within them.

“To hit the net-zero embodied carbon targets, the government must incentivise businesses and supply chains to ensure projects are designed using sustainable resources and re-used materials which can be disassembled at the end of its lifespan in line with circular economy principles.”

Russell Pedley, co-founder and director of Assael Architecture, added: “Architects have long been aware of the need to design low carbon homes, and this new strategy marks a major step forward when it comes to decarbonising England’s ageing housing stock.

“However, with much emphasis placed on incentivising households to install heat pumps, it is unclear what this means for private renters, who make up nearly a fifth of the country’s household occupiers.

“As England’s build-to-rent sector continues to grow year on year, more attention needs to be paid to the crucial role these homes can play in meeting the government’s decarbonisation targets while making up the shortfall in annual housing delivery.

“Modern methods of construction, used for many build-to-rent developments, can also help to bring in new talent from across the manufacturing sector to ensure we have the skills available to deliver a transition to low carbon housing.”

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