Ministers want to install 600,000 pumps every year by 2028 as part of their “net-zero” carbon emissions drive. Heat pumps can cost up to 10 times the average £1,500 charge for a new gas boiler and the running costs could exacerbate the cost of living crisis with electricity costing four times as much as gas.
Andy Kerr, founder of boiler installation experts BOXT, said that in practice this project will cost a lot more than that, especially in older homes and flats.
He said: “It is a complex installation and usually requires the whole of the central heating system to be replaced, which is naturally very expensive.
“Even with the new grants available via the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, it will have a significantly larger upfront cost than a gas boiler.”
Those living in period or poorly insulated properties may be expected to pay an additional £12,000 to ensure their pumps work efficiently, raising the total cost to around £22,000.
Mike Foster, chief executive of the Energy and Utilities Alliance said: “These absurd sums might mean nothing to the millionaires suggesting heat pumps are the future, but to ordinary hard-working families, they are beyond reach.”
The Government’s infrastructure chief Sir John Armitt has warned of widespread resistance to the plans: “Why would you move to a heat pump at between £5,000 to £15,000 when you can buy or exchange for a new gas boiler for £1,500.”
He also said: “The only way you can make such a significant shift is by saying from a particular date, you won’t be able to buy a new gas boiler.”
The International Energy Agency has said that gas boiler sales should cease after 2025, if the UK is to hit its net-zero target.
Heat pump manufacturers are also sceptical about scrapping gas boilers with technical director at Viessmann Christian Engelke saying “heat pumps are not the only game in town”.
Mr Engelke called for a mixed approach, including hydrogen boilers, hybrid heating systems, and fuel-cell boilers.
He said heat pumps will not suit every UK property and that it is unrealistic to expect the nation to rush to adopt heat pumps “especially as the industry is struggling to meet demand right now”.
Currently, 85 percent of UK homes are heated by gas boilers, with 1.5 million installed each year, more than any country in Europe.
So what do YOU think? Should the government pay to replace ALL boilers with heat pumps? Vote in our poll and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.