Households will be offered subsidies of £5,000 from next April to help them make the switch.
Homeowners will be encouraged to switch to a heat pump or other low-carbon technology when their current boiler needs replacing.
An air-source heat pump costs between £6,000 and £18,000, depending on the type installed and the size of a property. The Government says the subsidies will make heat pumps a comparable price to a new gas boiler.
Insulation and other improvements may be needed to help households get the best out of the switch.
‘It’s been worth the bother’
A family moved into a 1930s semi, and knew they wanted to undertake home improvements, an upgrade to the heating system and an extension.
It wasn’t cheap and they chose an air-source heat pump and alongside it, they had a specifically designed insulation upgrade, new radiators and brand-new underfloor heating. They already had double or triple-glazing, insulated walls and were upgrading the lofts.
To help with the project, they used the old Renewable Heat Initiative funding that they will pay back quarterly over seven years and go quite a long way to covering the costs.
Heating buildings accounts for more than a fifth of the UK’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, so there is pressure on the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy to deliver effective reductions.
What is a heat pump and how much will one cost me?
Heat pumps extract warmth from the air, the ground or water – a bit like a fridge operating in reverse. They are powered by electricity, so if you have a low-carbon source of electricity, they provide even greener heating.
Octopus Energy, said it expected homeowners to pay about £2,500 to the cost of installing a heat pump, roughly equivalent to the cost of a new gas boiler. The government subsidy would cover the rest. To benefit fully, many houses will require an upgrade to their energy efficiency, including insulation, before installing one.
You’ll need a place outside your home where a unit can be fitted to a wall or placed on the ground. It must have some space around it to allow a good flow of air.
Which heat pump should I purchase?
There are two types of air-to-water heat pumps: monobloc and split systems. A monobloc system has all the components in a single outdoor unit, with pipes carrying water to the central heating system and a hot water cylinder inside your home. A split system separates the components between indoor and outdoor units. Whether a monobloc or split system is right for you will depend on your budget and the space available.
Monobloc systems tend to be cheaper and quicker to install and don’t take up as much space in your home, although they are generally slightly less efficient than split systems. The efficiency gain from split systems comes from some of the heat transfer taking place inside the building where it is warmer, rather than outside.
If you’re not limited by space inside your home, it may be worth the extra cost of installing a split system. Your installer should be able to talk you through your options and help you choose the design that works best for you.