HOMEOWNERS in England and Wales will be offered subsidies of £5,000 from next April to help them to replace old gas boilers with low carbon heat pumps.
The grants are part of the government’s £3.9bn plan to reduce carbon emissions from heating homes and other buildings.
It is hoped no new gas boilers will be sold after 2035. The funding also aims to make social housing and public buildings more energy efficient.
Experts say the budget is too low and the strategy not ambitious enough.
Ministers say the subsidises will make heat pumps a comparable price to a new gas boiler. But the £450m being allocated for the subsidies over three years will cover a maximum of 90,000 pumps.
Heating buildings is a large contributor to the UK’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, representing 21% of overall emissions, so there is pressure on the Heat and Buildings Strategy to deliver effective reductions.
It comes as the government prepares to outline its overarching strategy for how the UK will reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and achieve sharp reductions in emissions over the next couple of decades.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the grants to support the adoption of heat pumps, available from next April, would play a role in that, by helping to bring down the cost of the relatively new technology by 2030.
Currently an air source heat pump costs between £6,000 and £18,000, depending on the type installed and the size of a property.
“As the technology improves and costs plummet over the next decade, we expect low-carbon heating systems will become the obvious, affordable choice for consumers,” Mr Kwarteng said.
“Through our new grant scheme, we will ensure people are able to choose a more efficient alternative in the meantime.”
While homeowners will be encouraged to switch to a heat pump or other low-carbon technology when their current boiler needs replacing, there is no requirement to remove boilers that are still working, the government emphasised.
Writing in the Sun, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “the Greenshirts of the Boiler Police are not going to kick in your door with their sandal-clad feet and seize, at carrot-point, your trusty old combi”.
Mr Johnson also sought to reassure voters about the government’s ambitions by stressing that the costs of low-carbon heating systems would go down over time while their introduction would help create thousands of new job opportunities.