How will heat pumps help the UK reach Net Zero?

The Government is keen on heat pumps for new builds, but to be effective, they rely on the best insulation or the heat isn’t retained and the fuel costs are exorbitant – hence the focus on new housing stock.

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The Government’s plan to phase out gas boilers by 2025 on new-build homes, with the rest of the UK following in 2035, has led millions of Brits to think about heating alternatives. As a result, there’s a lot of focus on heat pumps right now.

Heat pumps

The Government is keen on heat pumps for new builds, but to be effective, they rely on the best insulation or the heat isn’t retained and the fuel costs are exorbitant – hence the focus on new housing stock. The gas boiler ban in 2025 only applies to new-builds because building regulations can be adapted, ensuring that the insulation is in place to make heat pumps feasible, both from a construction and financial perspective.

Heat pump costs

A ground source heat pump costs between £11,000 – £15,000, while an air-source model will set you back between £5,000 – £8000.

It’s fair to say that’s still not affordable for the majority of homeowners in the UK at the current prices. To compare, the average price of a gas combi boiler is between £1,500 and £3,000.

Heat pump installation

There’s a skills shortage when it comes to tradespeople able to fit heat pumps, with 80% of engineers saying they don’t have the current training, so there’s certainly a need for more training courses.

Heat pump sustainability

A heat pump is sustainable if the electricity needed to run it from the grid is generated by solar or wind (renewable). Over the last year, almost half (47%) of the UK’s electricity was produced by burning natural gas at power stations at 38% efficiency. Modern gas condensing boilers are over 90% efficient, so that’s something to consider if you’re trying to weigh the environmental credentials of heat pumps as an alternative.

The verdict

To rely on heat pumps as a sustainable option for heating, there are lots of factors to think about – not least finding someone to install it, as well as whether or not it’s affordable at the moment.

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