The “bonkers” Government plan to scrap 26 million gas boilers is designed to cut carbon emissions from our homes but will only worsen the cost of living crisis with energy bills already expected to hit £3,000 later this year. Replacement heat pumps cost a fortune to install, but the running costs could come as an even bigger shock.
The nation’s gas boilers are living on borrowed time as the Government looks set to ban them at some point in the next few years to save the planet.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to replace them with electric heat pumps, but they cost between £5,000 and £15,000 to install. This is up to 10 times the average £1,500 charge for fitting a new gas boiler.
Andy Kerr, founder of boiler installation experts BOXT, said in practice it will cost a lot more than that, especially in older homes and flats.
“It is a complex installation and usually requires the whole of the central heating system to be replaced, which is naturally very expensive.”
He said heat pumps may suit newly built or renovated homes, but will cost others a fortune.
Kerr said it is usually costs five times as much as a replacement gas boiler. “Even with the new grants available via the Boiler Upgrade Scheme will have a significantly larger upfront cost than a gas boiler.”
So far, homeowners have been understandably reluctant to switch, despite being offered a £5,000 grant under the £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
The Government says no-one will be forced to remove their existing fossil fuel boilers, but its infrastructure chief Sir John Armitt admitted last week that the plan will only work if people are banned from buying a new gas boiler.
Heat pumps aren’t just much more expensive to install, they have much higher ongoing running costs, too, warned Ian Henderson, founder and managing director of installation and servicing specialists Boiler Plan UK.
“Government levies mean that electricity actually costs four times as much as gas, so homeowners could end up paying more to heat their home.”
Incredibly, the Government has scuppered its own plan from the start, by imposing the costly green levy, which already adds a staggering £159 a year to our electricity bills.
Henderson puts the average cost of upgrading a home’s system for an air source heat pump at £18,000 but said the real shock will come afterwards, Henderson said. “Current levies on energy mean that electricity is four-times the price of gas.”
This means that any energy savings a homeowner makes will be “irrelevant”, he added. “They will still be paying the same amount, if not more, to heat their home.”
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The average price of electricity in the UK is currently 28p per kilowatt-hour (kWh), according to British Gas. That is four times the price of gas at just 7p per kWh.
Electricity standing charges are twice as expensive, at 45p per day compared to 27p for gas.
Households who have made the leap to an all-electric home using suppliers that only produce power from renewables are being punished as a result.
If Boris Johnson pushes his net zero plans, everyone else will pay more too. Henderson said there is another problem.
“The UK has some of the least energy efficient housing in Europe, meaning that in some instances the higher cost of heat pumps could further drive fuel poverty as heat escapes.”
Under current net zero plans, our household bills will quite literally go through the roof.